Dr. Didi Saint Louis
Dr. Didi Saint Louis
Abortions are a safe, normal and integral part of reproductive health care. For many patients, they are vital to overall health and well-being. The American Medical Association, the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians, the American College of Nurse Midwives, the American College of Family Physicians and many professional medical associations agree. At least 24 of these groups signed a letter opposing bans against abortions.
People seek abortions for many reasons, and all are valid. Some individuals who have a history of heart failure, kidney disease, or severe high blood pressure could face life-threatening risks if they go through with a pregnancy. People who were recently diagnosed with serious diseases such as cancer while in the early stages of pregnancy may choose an abortion. Severe preeclampsia, lethal birth defects in the fetus and other catastrophic medical complications are reasons for a patient to undergo an abortion. Some people simply don’t want to be pregnant.
When abortion is banned, many people are forced to flee, traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles to seek care. This can take significant resources, ones that many people simply don’t have. Some of those people, then, are forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. This can be detrimental to their mental and physical health as well as to the health and wellness of the child.
In a state with an already atrocious maternal mortality rate that is actually worsening, evidence shows that banning abortions would significantly increase the number of women who die during childbirth. These dangers will fall disproportionately on Black women, who are three times more likely to die during childbirth than white women and much more likely than white women in Georgia to suffer from hypertension. Hypertensive diseases of pregnancy, and pre-existing hypertension, contribute to the risk of preeclampsia, stroke and cardiovascular disease, which are the leading causes of maternal deaths in Georgia.
Decisions around both pregnancy and abortion should be made between patients and their doctors. As a physician, I trust that my patients are intelligent individuals who know their bodies and deserve the autonomy to make decisions about their health without intrusion from the state and its legislators. Choosing to have an abortion is an emotionally charged, complex decision and individuals who make that decision should be able to do it without fear. It is our job as doctors to ensure they can access the care they need.
If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and Georgia’s abortion ban goes into effect, they will be interfering in the sacred doctor-patient relationship. The justices, and the leaders of Georgia who passed the ban, will be blocking personal medical decisions and will never know how they permanently changed the course of people’s lives. They’ll be jeopardizing lives too.
Dr. Didi Saint Louis is an OB/GYN in Atlanta and member of the Committee to Protect Health Care.