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(48,896 posts)
Sat Mar 18, 2023, 06:27 PM Mar 2023

All-or-Nothing Abortion Politics Will Leave Women With Nothing [View all]


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Before the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, I did not consider myself an abortion provider. Ninety-five percent of my work as a high-risk obstetrician was helping women through complex pregnancies to achieve healthy outcomes for both them and their babies.

But I also served the 5 percent of women who did not think they could get pregnant on dialysis, who develop life-threatening hypertension and need delivery before their babies can survive preterm or who learn halfway through pregnancy that their baby has life-limiting birth defects. Before Dobbs, I did not use the word “abortion” when I talked to these patients about ending pregnancies; I opted instead to talk about terminating or interrupting pregnancies. But I wish I had. I should have conveyed that abortion is health care, can be lifesaving and happens more frequently than many of us acknowledge.

Now that abortion is banned in Tennessee, my fellow physicians and I face a new dilemma of how to operate under extremely restrictive abortion laws while maintaining our ethical responsibilities to provide needed health care. Part of this work requires advocating incremental changes that would have real, tangible effects on patients’ lives and accepting progress, however imperfect.

Other health care professionals in Tennessee and I are trying to reform one of the most restrictive bans in the country: the Human Life Protection Act, which became law in Tennessee after the Dobbs decision. It considers any action in which a live pregnancy is ended, other than in an effort to increase the probability of live birth, a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Removing a six-week ectopic pregnancy in the fallopian tube or treating inevitable miscarriage is, by definition, a criminal offense.

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