"What I realised was I effectively have become an instrument of state abuse of power," David Eisenberg, MD, told the Los Angeles Times. "As a licensed physician, I am compelled by the state of Missouri to put my fingers in a woman's vagina when it’s not medically necessary."
Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, the last abortion provider in the state, is in a court battle with the state government over the renewal of its annual license. Last month, Gov. Mike Parson signed a measure into law banning abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy and criminalising health providers. (The ban goes into effect in late August.) Shortly after, the state moved to shut down the clinic, citing safety concerns.
One of the requirements the state's Health Department said the clinic should follow in order to obtain a license renewal was to perform an additional pelvic exam for patients seeking to terminate their pregnancies, at least three days before the procedure. This would be in addition to the state-mandated counselling and 72-hour waiting period patients must undergo before going through with their abortions.
Last week, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG) expressed its opposition to the pelvic exam requirement. "Patient safety is of principal importance to ACOG. It is unacceptable that lawmakers and bureaucrats are attempting to dictate how doctors practice medicine without regard to medical science and are treating them like criminals," ACOG and the Missouri Section of ACOG said in a joint statement provided to Refinery29. "While pelvic exams may be appropriate for patients with certain conditions, routine multiple pelvic exams for women seeking abortion care are unwarranted, invasive, and not supported by evidence. Shared decision-making in healthcare should be between a patient and her physician — not government bureaucrats."