opinion | New risks for doctors and pregnant patients

To the editor:

repeats”Why does the right force a woman who has miscarried to suffer?By Michael Goldberg (column, Jul 19):

They don’t tell you this in medical school, but being an obstetrician and gynecologist means knowing your heartache up close and personal, over and over again. I have been a practicing physician in Portland, Oregon for 37 years. My colleagues are on the political spectrum, but almost everyone I know has put the interest of a mother’s life before that of a fetus or fetus. And if they can’t for reasons of conscience, they will find another provider who can.

By Dobbs’ decision, my major was a mess. Abortion is one of the most common conditions we treat, as it occurs in About 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies.

These new laws in anti-choice states prohibit the termination of pregnancy, some immediately after fertilization. They don’t have accuracy, and they don’t have algorithms to guide practice.

Now the providers are in a very awkward position, and they risk prosecution. When the only exception to terminating a pregnancy is the risk of the mother’s death, how close is it to acting? Most pregnant women are young and healthy, coping well with blood loss and infection, until suddenly they don’t, by which time it may be too late to save them.

America will now see what happens when politicians exploit women’s welfare for political gain. It’s brutal. Anyone who thinks it will take so long to see the result of banning a common medical procedure will soon see the tears, blood, and death we told them are about to happen. It is inevitable and will continue.

Margaret B. Cohen
Portland, ore.
The writer is a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

To the editor:

repeats”Risks for patients as doctors deal with abortion exceptions(News article, July 21):

As a resident of Missouri living under a new abortion ban, I am angry and disgusted. Advocates have warned of the dangers of the ban for years, carelessly. Yet, as doctors describe how pregnant women die from substandard care as a result of this ban, our leaders are shrugging.

Days after Missouri enacted a ban on abortion except in “medical emergencies,” I called the attorney general’s office for clarification. I shared that I had two life-threatening conditions in my last pregnancy, and was worried that my obstetrician might be restricted if similar complications came up today.

The staff attorney told me he was unable to provide guidance, as providing legal advice could jeopardize his legal license. I replied that this ban would put my life at risk. his response? That I could leave the state.

Unfortunately, I worry that many Missouri families like mine will take him at his suggestion. I fear that women’s health providers will choose to practice elsewhere. I fear that Missouri’s elected officials are shortsighted enough to celebrate these losses. The country deserves better.

Katie Nimons
Saint Louis

To the editor:

repeats”I’m terrified of my patients, by David N. Hackney (Guest Opinion Article, Jul 10):

Dr. Hackney describes the pain of a pregnant woman who knows her baby has a fatal condition but has no choice but to carry on with the pregnancy. Although subtle, the potential pain of learning your fetus has a serious anomaly goes well beyond that.

A variety of severe life-altering birth defects and genetic syndromes can be diagnosed before birth, and several of these conditions are: Not Fatal – or not immediately fatal – but serious enough that the affected child will face a lifetime of severe disability and, in many cases, pain.

Telling you in the middle of your much needed pregnancy that your baby will have severe neurological or physical disabilities, that he will never walk, talk or even be able to roll over on his own, yet will survive, is as devastating as it is said that your baby will die at birth, but with Completely different consequences.

Despite the assertion of Judge Amy Connie Barrett, these children are unlikely to be adopted. It is unethical to diagnose a medical condition and not provide a patient with reasonable and safe treatment options, but the laws of many countries now make it impossible to do the ethical thing. More pain for everyone.

Katherine Weinstrom
Providence, RI
The writer is a professor at Brown University’s Albert Medical School and past president of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

To the editor:

Dr. David Hackney joins many physicians in highlighting the serious life and health risks that pregnant women now face. President Biden and Congress cannot restore universal abortion rights in any way that will remain after future elections.

So Democrats in Congress should immediately legislate a strong national right to abortion if continuing the pregnancy would risk the mother’s life, physical health, or mental health, or if the fetus did not survive.

Furthermore, there must be reasonable protection for medical providers who perform these necessary medical procedures. Otherwise, the doctor’s reluctance may cost women’s lives.

I hope there is bipartisan support for this.

Without this protection, the rise of physicians’ liability insurance can make obstetric care significantly expensive and take already-scarce funding away from all medical care.

Marie Jo Napoli
Columbus, Ohio

To the editor:

repeats”Abortion ban will affect rich and poor Americans(Guest Opinion Article, July 7):

Elizabeth Spears describes the impact of abortion restrictions as a “crisis for all American women,” with delays in therapeutic abortions having dire consequences. As an emergency physician who routinely takes care of women with pregnancy complications, I echo Ms. Spiers’ concerns.

I often treat emergency obstetrics. In recent weeks, I have taken care of pregnant women with the following complications: ectopic pregnancy, undetectable fetal heartbeat with low hCG levels, and profuse vaginal bleeding with an open cervix.

My patients were not asked about their political affiliations or religious convictions. I didn’t need to know if pregnancies were planned or desired. My focus was on the timely care of three frail patients, in pain and bleeding, who looked to our medical team for compassionate treatment and emotional support. All three patients had curative abortions.

With abortion bans spread throughout our country, I feel fortunate to practice New York City’s public hospital system, where the law supports sound medical decision-making along with a woman’s choice. However, there is no time for complacency. The lives and well-being of millions of women will depend on it.

Bonnie J. Barron