Learn More About “Indies” From a Supporting Staff

By Maryam

Below is an interview with Rebecca Willman from Abortion Care Network (ACN), the only nonprofit dedicated to supporting independent abortion providers and their allies. Here, she discusses what “indies” are and the constant challenges they face trying to provide much needed services to millions of women.

What are Indies?

RW: Independent abortion care providers (“indies”) include small practice owners, non-profit clinics, local women’s health centers, and others providing abortion care in their communities. Because indies are locally based providers, they lack the support or resources that come with affiliation with a national healthcare system, so ACN fills this gap. Our work centers on independent provider sustainability by ensuring that clinics are equipped to provide exceptional patient care, and by raising the collective voice of independent abortion providers.

What is missing in our system in terms of reproductive health?

RW: In terms of abortion care, we have an added layer of legally protected (and in some instances, legally sanctioned) harassment, shame, stigma and violence that providers and patients are up against.

This is ludicrous.

Reproductive healthcare should be informed by the doctors, nurses and clinicians providing that care – and those seeking that care. But as it stands now, providers and patients are the last to be heard, consulted, considered or protected when it comes to reproductive health.

What is the most frustrating thing about this work?

RW: Without a doubt, the harassment, shame, cruelty and legal burdens imposed on abortion providers and people seeking abortions. Though I understand the systemic, ideological and oppressive forces that contribute to anti-abortion extremism, it’s beyond me how people can impose violent and damaging judgment and impositions on others and live with themselves.

Despite the very clear attack on reproductive rights, are you hopeful in our resistance?

RW: Most days, yes, I’m hopeful. I won’t lie, these days in particular are challenging, and there are some days where I’m underwhelmed by our #resistance. But I am hopeful that the urgency will grow. For me personally – and I can’t overstate this enough – independent abortion providers are the best people in the world and the ones I credit with keeping my spirits up. They provide compassionate, transformational care to their communities regardless of who gets elected, or who is shouting outside their doors, or who is threatening to close them down. On days when things feel hard and hope slips a little – all I need is to remember who I’m working for and the inspiration comes right back.