As an OB-GYN who provides comprehensive reproductive health care, I am still grieving over the loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg was a champion for reproductive freedom and equitable access to medical care, and her tireless commitment to these issues has allowed me and my fellow providers to compassionately care for our patients, regardless of their backgrounds or medical needs.
Now, with Amy Coney Barrett formally confirmed by the Senate today as Ginsburg’s replacement on the Supreme Court, I feel compelled as a doctor to speak up.
Instead, the Senate decided to push ahead with hearings on the president’s nominee to fill Ginsburg’s seat. Barrett, a favorite of anti-abortion groups, has a record of upholding restrictions on abortion and opposing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has expanded health coverage to more than 20 million people. As the Supreme Court prepares to hear yet another case challenging the ACA right after the November election, and with more than a dozen cases threatening abortion access are just steps away, adding Barrett to an already conservative-leaning Court has serious implications.
Roe has collapsed and Texas is in chaos.
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Like many of my fellow health-care providers, I am afraid of the devastating impact that Barrett’s confirmation is sure to have on the people I care for daily.
I think about the mother of twin boys I saw in my clinic whose last delivery had been complicated by a dangerous pregnancy-related heart condition. Despite using her birth control correctly, she found herself eight weeks pregnant, and decided to have an abortion because she knew her chance of developing a more severe form of her heart condition with a continued pregnancy was too high to risk not being around for her sons.
I think about the young woman I took care of who suffered through three miscarriages before being able to access the medical care she needed to get her diabetes under control through the ACA, and the joy on her face after I delivered her first healthy child. I think about how different their lives would have been if politics prevented them from getting the health care they needed.
In my time as an OB-GYN, I have learned that no two people or pregnancies are ever the same. There is no one-size-fits-all law that can take every person, family, or medical situation into account. It is therefore important that our laws and policies are backed by medical science and that they allow space for doctors and patients to make the best decisions for each unique situation. People and their families, along with their doctors, deserve the space to make careful, conscious, informed decisions about their health and lives, without the interference of politics or the fear of not being able to pay for medical care.
I am deeply alarmed that Judge Barrett is now Justice Barrett. Her elevation to the Supreme Court represents a major threat to the ability of doctors like me to provide evidence-based medical care.
It is more important than ever that we work to pass legislation like the Women’s Health Protection Act and the EACH Woman Act, bills that will protect the autonomy and dignity of my patients and our communities. Our legislators must protect and expand public health programs to help our country recover from COVID-19 and emerge stronger and healthier.
Abortion is health care. Contraception is health care. And each one of us deserves access to that care free from political interference.