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LWVUS Board President and Planned Parenthood Leader Responds to Abortion Decision

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At the League's 2022 Convention, LWVUS board president and associate medical director of Planned Parenthood North Central States, Dr. Deborah Ann Turner, made the following remarks in response to the Supreme Court of the US's decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion.

Watch her speech in full


Good afternoon, League members, friends, guests, and all who believe in the right to vote, and free and fair democracy — in other words, those who believe in freedom.  

Deborah Turner headshot Board

I have to be real. Today, our freedom was eroded. The Supreme Court overturned our right to abortion and signaled a wider threat to all our other civil liberties. I know right now all of us are feeling the pain, the anger, and the fear that this decision handed us today. We must use our anger as fuel for action. 

The League has supported freedom of choice since 1982 and denounced reproductive coercion in any form. Speaking as a health care professional who has dedicated my career to women’s health and reproductive health, it makes me furious, and it frightens me that a woman’s right to choose to have a safe and legal abortion has been stripped away.  

I started medical school in 1973. One of the first patients I helped care for was a young woman who had undergone an illegal and unsafe abortion. She had four children at home, and she died from her complications. I can still see her in my mind in her bed in the ICU.

I have spent my entire medical career caring for women and their families, who are making difficult decisions about their lives. First as a gynecologic oncologist for 32 years and then as Associate Medical Director at Planned Parenthood of North Central States.  

I am angry that pregnant women, and those who can become pregnant have been reduced to the status of political footballs. These women are individuals with individual stories, making what is always a serious decision to them. I know. I have sat in the room with them and heard their stories, held their hands, and shared their tears and relief at being treated in a nonjudgmental manner. Women Power Democracy is also about being there for these women, and we will join our allies in the fight for reproductive freedom. 

Moments like this fuel our fight.

We will use our anger to fight in the legislatures, in the courts, and in the streets. We call on our elected leaders at the state and federal levels to act swiftly to restore bodily autonomy to all people.   

We will not stand by as constitutional rights are stripped away, one by one. 

We hold the power to create a more perfect democracy. Women’s rights are human rights, and we will continue to fight until the right to abortion is restored. Our lives depend on it.  

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