But the new law, which does not take effect for six months and faces inevitable court challenges, will not change my daily routine as an OB-GYN. Just as I have for the last 15 years of my medical career, I will continue to deliver babies, give prenatal care — and provide abortions.
As a mother and a physician, this abortion ban is deeply personal. I carry both these identities with me as I care for women and honor their decisions to become parents or to terminate their pregnancies.
I understand the struggle to make that choice. I became pregnant when I was in high school. Because of my fear and lack of resources, I didn’t confide in my mother or grandmother until it was too late to have an abortion. I love my children with all my heart, but I know that everyone should be able to make this decision for themselves.
I am frightened for Alabamians because, should this law ever go into effect, doctors like me will leave Alabama rather than stay and practice substandard medicine. And I am afraid for patients, particularly when I reflect on treatment I recently provided for one woman. She was 22 weeks pregnant and had a condition called preeclampsia, which is when high blood pressure puts the health of the mother and baby at risk and can result in death. The only option in that situation was to immediately deliver.
The patient understood the high stakes and instead decided to end her pregnancy. But it took time (which we did not have) to convince the hospital and other physicians that this was the correct course of action because of the already hostile climate for abortion.
Bottom line: Alabamans deserve better. We all do. So, I cling to a vision of a world in which people are not afraid to talk about their abortions, in which insurance covers the full cost of abortions and in which all women have access to high-quality maternity care and contraception.
I urge the politicians in Alabama, and those around the country, please stop trying to make it harder for people to access health care. Instead, help me turn this vision into a reality.