Fighting Restrictions

As physicians, we support access to comprehensive reproductive health care services for all women. Legislation that puts politics and ideology before the doctor-patient relationship interferes with our ability to provide the highest level of care to our patients.

Restrictions, such as mandatory ultrasounds and waiting periods, bans on abortion care after 20 weeks, laws prohibiting telemedicine for medication abortion or preventing minors from giving their own informed consent, and bills like the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) create unnecessary hardship for patients who are seeking abortion services. Moreover, they serve only to create barriers to safe, legal abortion care.

In no area of medicine other than abortion care do our state and federal governments impose morality-based legislation that has the potential to criminalize doctors and manipulate patients in an attempt to sway their health care decisions.

Despite the equal, intrinsic value of all medical professionals and all patients, American federal and state governments have enacted laws and policies that interfere with abortion providers’ ability to care for their patients.

Some restrictions, known as targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP laws), impose onerous restrictions on abortion providers that are not required of other outpatient surgical and medical care. Some require abortion care to take place in a hospital or other specialized facility, rather than in a physician’s office. Others institute new architectural and licensing requirements on abortion clinics.

Certain states now impose follow-up procedures after a medication abortion, while others necessitate reporting abortion complications and issue penalties for noncompliance.

As physicians, we know that when providers are prevented from helping their patients, women and families suffer. Read more about our efforts to fight restrictions on abortion.

Related Posts:

Testimony of Physicians Board Chair Dr. Nancy Stanwood in Opposition to H.R. 7, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”

Physicians welcomes the opportunity to submit testimony on H.R. 7, misleadingly named the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” This dangerous bill would effectively ban insurance coverage for abortion, even to protect a woman’s health. This could put access to abortion out or reach for countless women. A woman’s health insurance should meet all her health needs and cover a full range of medical procedures, including abortion.  Read More

Dr. Anne Davis: Let Doctors Be Doctors

Dr. Anne DavisOur consulting medical director Dr. Anne Davis spoke to Salon about the bad science behind “fetal pain” abortion bans and the reality of why women need later abortions:

“When you’re sitting in your office with a woman who is 22 weeks into a pregnancy with a severe fetal anomaly — she’s depressed, she’s stressed and now she’s worried, ‘Is my baby going to feel pain?’ It’s just another thing these women have to struggle with. And why? These are created concerns. They are not based in science, they are based in politics….

“Real situations in real life are very different than what we’re hearing from politicians. The whole debate — the way the whole thing is framed — is very shaming to patients. Let’s bring respect back into it. Treat people with respect. Have compassion for patients. Do what’s right for them.”

Read the entire article here.

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Doctors’ Stories of Women Who Would Be Hurt by H.R. 1797

The “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” (H.R. 1797), sponsored by Representative Trent Franks, would ban most abortions in the United States at 20 weeks after fertilization. The bill threatens providers with fines and/or imprisonment, clearly intended to intimidate and discourage doctors from providing abortion care. This legislation endangers women by criminalizing safe, legal abortion. With only a narrow and inadequate exception for the life and health of a woman, H.R. 1797 would place doctors in the untenable position of denying abortions to women in need, including women carrying a pregnancy with severe and lethal anomalies, which are sometimes not diagnosed until 20 weeks or later.

The following stories from our physicians all demonstrate the need for later abortion, and the danger posed by abortion bans like H.R. 1797.

Dr. Kathleen Morrell of New York, New York, takes care of women with complicated, high-risk pregnancies. She knows that this ban would hurt the women she cares for. She remembers her patient Holly, who had a wanted pregnancy. Holly discovered at 22 weeks that her baby had a deadly form of skeletal dysplasia. She also remembers her patient Shanna, who at 21 weeks found out that her baby had a severe cardiac anomaly. After consulting with specialists, both of these women decided that ending the pregnancy was the safest, most humane thing to do. HR 1797 takes away medical decision-making ability from women and their families, replacing medical guidance with political judgment. This is wrong.

Dr. Rebecca Mercier, Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Susan was a woman in her 30’s with two healthy children who wanted one more child; she and her husband were very happy to find out she was pregnant. Sadly, her ultrasound at 19 weeks showed that her fetus had a severe problem with his kidneys. If the pregnancy were carried to term, the baby would have only lived at most for a few days. This was devastating to the family. After much discussion they decided to have an abortion at 20 weeks. Susan simply couldn’t face the months of carrying a pregnancy knowing she would have to watch her child die; she worried that her young children ages 4 and 6 would suffer from the experience as well. She was able to have an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and did so knowing she was making a choice to protect herself and her family.

Dr. Karla Maguire, Miami, Florida: I remember a patient I will call Shelly. Shelly was a mother of three with a desired pregnancy at 21 weeks. She came to the hospital complaining about leaking fluid. We did an ultrasound and discovered that there was no amniotic fluid around the baby. Without that fluid, there could be no development of lungs or limbs. Shelly and her family were devastated – this is the type of news all woman fear and hope never to get. Then Shelly became feverish and had pain in her abdomen, signs of a serious infection. She needed an abortion, which she was able to obtain.  Read More

Dr. Stanwood: Abortion Ban Shows Ignorance, Profound Lack of Compassion

Board Chair Dr. Nancy Stanwood responded today to the addition of a rape and incest exception to H.R. 1797, a resolution that would criminalize abortions 20 weeks after fertilization, introduced by Representative Trent Franks:

“Abortion opponents in the House of Representatives claim to care about women. Yet H.R. 1797 at its core disregards the well-being and dignity of women. It still lacks a critical exception to protect a woman’s health. ….[This revision] creates an exception for rape survivors, but it mandates that a woman who has been raped report the attack to law enforcement. Rape is grossly underreported and women’s reasons for not reporting are complex and understandable. Many women fear reprisal from their attacker and are intimidated by the reporting process. My patients have felt that they would not get justice and just wanted to put the trauma behind them. H.R. 1797 still suffers from ignorance and a profound lack of compassion.”

Read the entire press release hereRead More