I applaud the unanimous vote by the Portland City Council to enact a protest-free zone around Planned Parenthood on Congress Street. Given how much attention has been focused on Planned Parenthood, you could easily think it is the only health care office in Portland that performs abortions. It is not.

Although it has not always been the case, abortion has become a highly stigmatized health care service. Therefore, most clinicians providing this care will do so quietly in an effort to avoid the disruption and violence perpetrated by some people opposed to women’s autonomy and reproductive human rights. The clinicians and support staff at Planned Parenthood work bravely in public to help dispel this stigma and silence.

Abortion is a very safe and common medical service.

Conclusive, scientific, well-published data shows evidence that both medication and aspiration abortion can be safely performed not only by gynecologists, but also by doctors in other specialties like family, internal and pediatrics, as well as by physician assistants, certified nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners.

Since it is proven safe for any of these health care clinicians to provide abortion care in their private office settings, it is an incorrect assumption that they are not doing so.

Maine has a lot to be proud of. We have one of the lowest unintended pregnancy rates in the country, and, as you could expect with that fact, one of the lowest rates of abortion. We achieved this success using solid public health strategies. Verbally assaulting women on Congress Street hasn’t done anything positive to help improve our already impressive achievements.

Congratulations to the Portland City Council for voting to support safety on Congress Street.

Nancy A. Foss

Portland