PhiDE on Roe v Wade: A Call To Action
Written by Swara Ramaswamy
First part of a collection of MI Delta PhiDE Member’s thoughts and opinions of the overturning of Roe v Wade.
Last month, Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) were overruled by the Supreme Court. This decision ends the federal protection of abortion rights and returns the decision on whether or not to support abortion access back to the states. In a country with one of the highest maternal mortality rates of any developed nation, especially for women of color, there is no doubt that this decision can and will have far-reaching impacts on reproductive healthcare. While 16 states have already committed to retaining or expanding abortion rights, 13 states have so-called trigger laws — some of which predate the Civil War — that would completely outlaw abortion, in some cases without exceptions for rape or incest. Specific to Michigan, an injunction has been granted to keep a 1931 abortion ban from going into effect, and the Reproductive Freedom for All ballot initiative has reached 800,000 signatures, granting the initiative a spot on the ballot in November.
It’s tough to consider what this means for us as future medical professionals. Regardless of the moral argument behind abortion, is it not our duty as future doctors to protect our patients’ lives? Denying pregnant people potentially life saving healthcare is not only unconscionable, but completely antithetical to the reason countless people have decided to pursue medicine. One day I’ll take an oath to “do no harm”. Am I supposed to stand by if poorly researched, misogynistic, dangerous laws prevent me from doing what I swore to do? It’s times like these where we are reminded of tragic cases like that of Savita Halappanavar, who died of sepsis 17 weeks pregnant after being refused an abortion due to Irish laws at the time. As painful as it is to consider, there is no doubt that there will be more Savitas in the US as a result of this decision. The issue doesn’t end with abortion. Family planning clinics are widely utilized for various reasons that don’t even include abortive procedures. There is concern surrounding the protection of IUDs and other contraceptives, and while most states with abortion bans have exceptions for protecting the pregnant person’s life — as in the case of ectopic pregnancies — we have been warned that the Supreme Court decision can cause confusion and obstruct a patient’s access to timely and efficient healthcare.
It’s easy to push issues to the periphery when you think that it can’t or won’t affect you. The overturn of Roe V. Wade has effectively burst a bubble of ignorance for many people. It is absolutely imperative at this time for all of us as future healthcare workers to utilize every ounce of empathy that we have and to raise our voices to fight for the improvement of reproductive health care for all.