Today, our Board Chair Dr. Kristyn Brandi, ob/gyn and abortion provider in New Jersey, testified before the Senate HELP Committee in a hearing titled Reproductive Care in a Post-Roe America: Barriers, Challenges, and Threats to Women’s Health. Dr. Brandi testified alongside Dr. Jamila Taylor of The Century Foundation and Samie Dentz, an abortion storyteller.
Below are select comments from Dr. Brandi’s remarks to the Committee.
“I have been providing comprehensive reproductive health care for over a decade including abortion care, prenatal care, gynecologic procedures and outpatient care. I am a proud abortion provider from the state of New Jersey.
“I became an abortion provider for the same reason that I became an OBGYN – to help historically oppressed folx access the care that they need and deserve. Obstetrics care has always been stigmatized and marginalized. It’s no surprise to me that the same places that have banned abortion also have the highest rates of maternal mortality, and there are many systemic and social factors that play into these rates. By being a full spectrum OBGYN, providing abortion care and prenatal care, I could provide the best care for my patients.
“I’m here today to make clear that abortion is essential health care. Abortion can be necessary to save someone’s life and it is a critical part of being an ob-gyn.
“I am a pro-abortion doctor. I say pro-abortion not to be antagonistic, but to point out all the good that abortion can provide for people. Without autonomy, without decision-making ability, without access to abortion care, many people have challenging situations that could become even more painful or life-threatening. And for those that do not want to be pregnant for any reason, the ability to have an abortion gives them the freedom to decide if and when to become pregnant. For some, abortion is liberation. There is a lot of good that comes from people’s ability to access abortion and I celebrate that.
“I cannot separate my ability to provide care as a physician from my lived experiences. I am a cis-gender woman who could be harmed by restrictive abortion bans. I am also a Latina – the daughter of Puerto Rican and Panamanian parents. I identify as a bisexual woman and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community – a community also in deep need of timely, compassionate reproductive health care. People with low incomes, BIPOC folx, queer people, people with disabilities, young people, people facing incarceration or detention, and immigrants, who faced many barriers to accessing care even before Roe was overturned, now face even bigger hurdles. So, I also understand deeply how restrictions on abortion and outright abortion bans impact marginalized communities because they are my community.
“I am greatly concerned that abortion bans will tie health professionals’ hands when it comes to providing evidence-based care to patients. It is heartbreaking to consider that the skills I have, the medicine that has been proven time and again to be incredibly safe, will be barred from patients. I took an oath to care for my patients. We are supposed to bring safe evidence-based care to our communities. It is unconscionable to enact laws that prevent health care providers from offering the standard of care. There are many urgent health conditions that can arise from or be exacerbated by pregnancy for which abortion is indicated. There are already reports of having to wait for a patient to become sicker before intervening. Future health care providers may not have access to training to even learn how to provide abortion care and will be ill-equipped to act in complex situations. This is not how health care should work. People are being harmed without abortion access.
“This moment is horrifying. I am frightened for patients that may be criminalized for making valid decisions about their health; I am concerned for health professionals committed to providing high quality evidence-based health care; I am terrified for the people that will be forced to continue an undesired pregnancy against their will. But I will not give up. I provided care last week and I will provide care next week and I will do it again the week after that. I won’t give up because I know how important it is for my patients to have the care they need, when they need it, in the community they live in. Please remember that there are countless people in each of your states that have needed and benefited from abortion. You all love someone who has had an abortion. They deserve your consideration and protection.”