- Friday, April 19, 2024

With abortion as a major issue in the 2024 election, there has been a proliferation of stories claiming pro-life protections put women in “medical peril” because they allegedly prohibit doctors from intervening in medical emergencies. It has even prompted some of the women who have suffered unfortunate circumstances to campaign for President Joe Biden.

As a practicing OB-GYN, I care for both a mother and her unborn child, and in my 30 years of practice, I have never had to resort to an abortion to save a woman’s life. In fact, about 90% of my obstetric peers refuse to perform elective abortions.

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Unfortunately, the fearmongering I’m seeing from abortion advocates — that pro-life protections are the reason behind these heart-breaking stories — has only gotten worse.

Lost in the conversation surrounding the intentional destruction of unborn human life are facts. There is a distinct difference between abortion and medical care. The aim of abortion is to end an unborn human’s life. Laws protecting unborn life do not affect treatment for a miscarriage. Nor do they prevent treatment of an ectopic pregnancy, which poses a risk to the mother’s life. The vast majority of abortions are performed for social and financial reasons. Abortion can and does harm women emotionally, physically, psychologically and socially.

Earnestly addressing the reality of abortion’s massive violation of human rights could engender a bipartisan conversation on preventing the crises that cause women to think they have no choice but to end the lives of their unborn children.

However, the misinformation of abortion advocates stands ready to promote fear and confusion. Hence, the blatantly false allegations that state laws protecting unborn human life prohibit physicians from providing necessary medical care to women suffering pregnancy emergencies.

States with pro-life protections ensure doctors can provide life-saving care for pregnant women during medical emergencies. The laws give broad deference to a physician’s judgment, allowing him or her to make this determination based on their “reasonable medical judgment.” Physicians can document their actions are reasonable by referencing the abundant guidelines in the obstetric literature addressing pregnancy complications that can lead to maternal death.

Unfortunately, medical organizations determined to push their pro-abortion ideology have refused to explain the laws to physicians and provide support for their clinical decisions, often leaving them confused and fearful. This lack of guidance has resulted in harm to women from the delay of necessary medical interventions.

Abortion advocates have leveraged the heartbreak of women whose children have life-limiting fetal conditions. They portray abortion in these circumstances as a compassionate response to “end the unborn baby’s suffering” or as a “necessary” intervention to save the mother’s life or prevent long-term bodily harm. Forcing women into truncating the relationship with their child through a brutal abortion procedure that painfully dismembers the unborn baby is not compassion. Most fetal conditions do not cause life-threatening risk to the mother. In the rare event it does, pro-life protections allow physicians to intervene.

Sadly, abortion advocates have also leveraged the true public health problem of “maternity care deserts” — regions with limited or no access to maternal health care — to spread fear, turning Americans against pro-life protections. They falsely report that these protections are the reason for some hospitals’ discontinuation of labor and delivery services and difficulties recruiting or retaining obstetricians in rural areas. The problems that exist in these areas — underfunded hospitals, difficulty attracting physicians, and burnout of existing health care providers — deserve real solutions. American women in those regions deserve quality obstetric care, not abortion which doesn’t address any of the underlying issues.

The goal of these dishonest portrayals becomes clear by examining the ballot initiatives that abortion advocates offer to replace existing state laws. This November, Floridians will vote on a constitutional amendment that will prohibit the law from “restrict(ing) abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the healthcare provider.”

Because of women’s terrifying stories of not receiving necessary health care during an emergency, the casual observer might assume the “health” clause is necessary. In actuality, it will open the floodgates to abortion on demand at any time in pregnancy. Rather than limiting abortion to rare, dire emergencies, “health” was defined in the Roe era as “all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age — relevant to the well-being of the patient.” And the “patient’s healthcare provider” responsible for deciding if an abortion is necessary under the health exception is the abortionist who would profit from the abortion.

The amendment would also allow abortion up to viability, the gestational age when the child may survive delivery, which occurs around 22-23 weeks’ gestation. Ultimately this amendment would permit abortions in Florida for any reason prior to that time, including after babies would feel pain, and, under the health exception, for almost any reason at any time.

Abortion advocates have one goal: to spread confusion through lies. They want to increase abortions on demand at any time in pregnancy, and they will do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. It’s crucial that Americans, especially women, start questioning the abortion advocates weaponizing that confusion for their own benefit, rather than the pro-life protections that very clearly protect pregnant women facing heartbreaking situations.

Ingrid Skop, M.D. has been a practicing board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist in San Antonio, Texas, for over 30 years. She currently practices with OB Hospitalist Group and is the Vice President and Director of Medical Affairs for the Charlotte Lozier Institute. 

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