Written by Rohini Kousalya Siva, AMSA National President-elect & Board of Trustees Reproductive Health Project Liaison,
Rohini is a 4th year medical student at Eastern Virginia Medical School.
Our Voices, Our Votes, Our Future
It has been 135 days since the U.S. Supreme Court reversed nearly 50 years of precedent and overturned its 1973 decision in Roe vs. Wade. This action has changed how our generation of physicians will practice and serve our communities.
Lost to us, for now, are the federal protections the Roe v. Wade ruling recognized:
“the right to liberty in the Constitution, which protects personal privacy,
includes the right to decide whether to continue a pregnancy.”
Lost to incoming physicians, for now, are the protections – fought for and won by so, so many like Heather Booth and The Janes – to care legally for people in need of abortions.
The generation of physicians who began their careers pre-Roe faced sepsis-wards full of women left without safe and legal ways to terminate pregnancies. The Roe decision changed that – not for everyone, everywhere in the U.S. – in a way we could build on. The Dobbs decision on June 24 closed that door, for now.
Since then, the Guttmacher Institute found existing trigger laws in 13 states have gone into effect, at least 66 clinics across 15 states have stopped providing abortion care, in 14 states abortion care is currently unavailable forcing people in need to travel to another state for abortion care.
Threats and violence health care providers, especially abortion care providers, face now are now unparalleled.
As a fourth-year medical student and an aspiring OBGYN, I see the fear and repression being generated, and the growing threats to my medical education. We are already seeing physicians in states across the country struggling to provide needed care to patients creating desperate situations, the New York Times reports:
- “In Wisconsin, a group of doctors and lawyers is trying to come up with guidelines on how to comply with a newly revived 173-year-old law that prohibits abortion except to save the life of a pregnant woman.”
- “in Texas, oncologists say they now wait for pregnant women with cancer to get sicker before they treat them, because the standard of care would be to abort the fetus rather than allow treatments that damage it…” And, “Now when patients arrive with ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages or hemorrhaging — all situations where abortion has been established as standard care — the questions for the lawyers are more pressing: ‘Do we wait until the fetus is definitely dead, or is mostly dead good enough?’ “
- “an Arizona hospital recommends having a lawyer on call to help doctors determine whether a woman’s condition threatens her life enough to justify an abortion”
State laws that create situations like these are set to increase. Situations where a provider is under duress to choose between the law vs. health and safety of patients. Additionally, other rights such as marriage equality, same-sex intimacy, and contraception access may open threats due to the Dobbs decision. For now.
I see a growing threat to my ethical obligation and duty as a future abortion provider. I see the real potential that I too will have my medical and ethical integrity questioned as has Dr. Caitlin Bernard’s, the Indiana physician who provided an abortion to an Ohio 10 year-old.
For now, repercussions of the Dobbs decision are being felt by patients and physicians in states across the country. We will continue to see an upward trend in unsafe abortions, and increases in maternal mortality and morbidity rates in all who can become pregnant. The Dobbs vs. Jackson decision leaves healthcare providers in the position where we are forced to choose between the oath we take during our white coat ceremony “to do no harm” and not being sued by the state or vigilante bounty hunters. For now.
The upcoming midterm elections provide us with an opportunity to change what the Dobbs decision has done. On November 8, We the People get to choose who will represent us in our state houses and congress. In this election:
- We can build on hard-won battles that brought us the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid in all states
- We can extend the $35/mo cap on insulin for diabetics in Medicare gained in the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act to all diabetics in the U.S. by requiring pharmaceutical companies to negotiate discounts
- We can build the power to pass a new federal law to ensure access to safe, legal abortion care in every state
By voting we utilize our fundamental right to voice our choices, do our duty, and make sure our representatives work on “by the people, for the people”.
I will be voting this November 8th to lift my voice, do my duty, and help ensure the rights of my future patients, as well as healthcare providers, are protected. I urge you to VOTE too! Be a Voter & bring your friends! Make a plan today on when, where, and who you will vote for on November 8th. Let’s not let for now become forever. Be the change.
Learn when, where & how to VOTE in your state.
Let’s Med Out the Vote!
Learn more about the AMSA Abortion Care & Reproductive Health Project
We believe that abortion services are a vital component of reproductive health care; that physicians who provide abortion care are essential to our communities; and that their practice should legally protected and available to all in need regardless of how much they earn, who they work for, or what state they live in.