A Side Of The Abortion Debate You Need To Hear

Photographed By Lauren Perlstein.
I'm an Ob/Gyn, and every day, I help connect my patients with the services they need. For some patients, that includes an effective birth control method, for others, prenatal care, and for many, that includes safe and compassionate abortion care.

I’m fortunate that I get to help my patients live the lives they want, whether or not that means starting or adding to a family. And I respect the decisions they make about their reproductive health. I became an Ob/Gyn because I believe that educating a woman about reproductive options and providing her with reproductive health care can positively and profoundly impact her life, as well as the lives of those around her.

From my clinical training onward, however, it became clear to me that there is a significant gap between the reproductive health care available to underserved women and the care available to everyone else — particularly when it comes to abortion. During medical school, I completed a research year at an abortion clinic and served women at a local county jail. I continued this work during my residency at Boston Medical Center, a hospital that has fought for reproductive rights in the years since Roe v. Wade. There, I learned from abortion providers with decades of experience that abortion access is not a given, and I was inspired by their deep commitment to helping women at a critical moment in their lives. Today I practice medicine in the Bay Area with the National Health Service Corps, which allows me to work in underserved communities with patient populations that have limited access to health-care services.
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I’m fortunate that I get to help my patients live the lives they want, whether or not that means starting or adding to a family

My patients represent just one sample of the multitudes of women whose autonomy has been wrested from them. Women across the country are being denied their right to make their own decisions about their reproductive health care, as anti-choice politicians pass laws that steadily chip away at this right. Today, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments in the most significant reproductive-rights case of the last two decades, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, to determine the constitutionality of a Texas law that has shut down women’s reproductive health-care providers by imposing unnecessary and unattainable standards on them. Conservative legislators disguise laws like Texas' HB2 as a means to promote women's health and safety, but in fact, they only make it harder for women to access legal and safe abortion. The medical community is united on this point: Abortion, particularly in the early stages of pregnancy, is one of the safest medical procedures there is.

I provide abortion care because I want to ensure women have the ability to make their own decisions about their families and futures, especially in low-income communities where the barriers women and families face are already so high. No woman should be forced to carry a pregnancy to term against her will because her access to care has been stripped away. The low-income women I serve are already facing an uphill battle in ensuring that they and their families get the health care they need. Nowhere is this battle more marked than in abortion care. All women deserve the option of making their own choices about their families, futures, and reproductive health, with the advice of a medical professional they can trust.

I don't view providing women with safe, compassionate abortion care as an obligation: I see it as a privilege that I am fortunate to fulfill. Nearly one in three American women will choose to end a pregnancy by age 45. The ability to make that decision is a constitutional right. As a doctor who works to provide abortion care to women, regardless of where they live or how much they make, I hope the Supreme Court will protect it.
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