Abortion care is no stranger to the oppressive weight of political ideology, and the current furor over transgender youth healthcare, emblemized by a slew of attacks in state capitals across the country exemplifies a resurgent threat to evidence-based medical practice, patients’ health and lives, and physicians’ consciences and careers.
I read the draft decision by the Supreme Court in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and wondered what my ancestors would think of us—the U.S.—at this moment.
I knew immediately what one might think. Her name is Lillie and her story motivates my work as an obstetrician-gynecologist and as an advocate for sexual and reproductive rights globally. She would say that history is repeating itself after learning little from its past.
Maternal mortality is one of the most compelling indicators that America runs on racism. Here’s what we need to do to overcome this legacy and current reality.
Women throughout the country reported showing up to their vaccine appointments only to be subjected to off-cuff, discriminatory treatment by professionals providing the vaccine, even as evidence mounted that the COVID-19 vaccine was safe and recommended for pregnant women, while COVID-19 was proving particularly dangerous in pregnancy, increasing the rate of severe complications including stillbirth. Some providers singled pregnant women out, requiring doctor’s notes; others refused to vaccinate them altogether.
As individual rights to deny medical care on religious or moral grounds expand, no one is safe from discrimination in medical care—not even the “unborn.” We should all understand our right to be free from gender-based discrimination in medical settings.
Overturning Roe v. Wade will unleash devastating rollbacks on abortion across the United States, while also impacting U.S. foreign policy. Already, the Helms Amendment, Siljander Amendment, global gag rule and other restrictions form a collective—and deadly—U.S. foreign policy package that has had disastrous impacts on global health, including an increase in maternal mortality, unsafe abortions and HIV infections, as well as a decline in the overall quality of healthcare.
While the forthcoming decision, and its catastrophic fallout, is not likely to have an immediate global impact, it will undercut efforts to remove these restrictions and embolden the anti-abortion lobby to further instrumentalize U.S. foreign policy to promote its ideology.
Hostile state or federal laws that ban or restrict abortion and criminalize pregnancy outcomes could have yet another devastating impact: threatening eligibility for legal immigration status and undermining efforts to create more equitable and humane immigration laws.
The politics of immigration and the politics of choice will continue to collide as extreme lawmakers cynically trade the reproductive health of immigrant and non-citizen women for political gain.
Abortion bans force pregnant women to endure the dangerous work of pregnancy, labor and childbirth against their will. Abortion bans place pregnant women seeking abortion under state control and require them to perform involuntary labor. This is a violation of the 13th Amendment.
In 1983, a constitutional referendum outlawed abortion in Ireland. In 2018, another referendum repealed the ban and legalized abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy. What happened in those 35 years? And what lessons be applied to the United States?
The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among wealthy countries. And it may get worse as abortions become more difficult to obtain, say public health experts.
Soaring temperatures, air pollution and extreme weather contribute to adverse pregnancy outcomes—especially for women of color.