As soon as I heard the news out of Idaho, that a lawmaker is proposing a bill that would charge a woman and her doctor with the crime of first degree murder for performing an abortion, I thought of Emily*, a patient I took care of last week. After I introduced myself, the first thing Emily told me was that she had always wanted five kids.
She has a son that is four and another that is two. She then recounted how unexpectedly the last year of her life had unfolded. One night, when her youngest son was almost one, she went in his room to check on him and found that he was purple. She rushed him to the emergency room where he was revived, but he continues to be under intensive rehabilitation and cardiac treatment at Children’s Hospital for the life-threatening condition that was discovered that horrible night.
During this hectic year, Emily lapsed in getting her birth control refilled and found that she had an unplanned pregnancy. When I met her, she was six weeks pregnant, and explained that given the health needs of her son, as well as her fear that she could have another child inherit the same life-threatening condition, she simply could not imagine having another child. I was able to help Emily and after a five-minute office procedure, she was back to her family that very same morning.
It truly gives me the chills when I hear language that tries to equate women like Emily to murderers.
My stomach turns when I consider the possibility of the proposed federal ban on abortion that would keep women like Emily from accessing their healthcare needs. Emily is one of the countless, thoughtful women that come to me facing complexities in their lives that do not allow them to have a child at that time, or for some, any time. A forced pregnancy under any condition is a horrific human-rights violation. Women deserve the dignity and respect to make decisions – that are sometimes complicated, sometimes difficult – with the help of their families and doctors.