The recent disclosure of the impending Supreme Court decision regarding Dobbs vs Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is a clarion call that the 50-year-old legal precedent of Roe v Wade, which decriminalized abortion up to the limit of fetal viability based on a woman’s right to privacy, is about to be overturned.
This has catastrophic implications for our field. Although many of the clinicians among us have never had to practice Ob/Gyn in an environment where abortion was illegal, many of us have heard numerous accounts of women who either died or came close to dying from abortion attempts that were performed by non-medically trained individuals or under non-sterile conditions. Before the Roe decision became the law of the land, it was widely known that criminalizing abortion does not eliminate the practice—it just drives it underground. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is committed to fighting against interference with the physician-patient relationship and has consistently supported women’s reproductive rights. As members of the Society for Reproductive Investigation (SRI), we stand with ACOG and strongly defend the private decisions that women make about their reproductive choices, and with the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) to support the rights of all individuals to access the full spectrum of reproductive health services, including abortion services.
In 2023, we can only hope that the landscape will change and the consequences of reproductive choices will be less harsh than they seem to be today in most states of our Union and were in the 1960s and -70s. The availability of contraception and the excellence of Family Planning Centers around the country have led to the lowest rates of abortion in the history of recording the procedure. The ability to date pregnancies reliably with ultrasound and hCG measurements were not available in the 60s and 70s, and these advances make it easier for women to detect pregnancies earlier and earlier.
Regardless of your personal and/or religious stance on abortion, we hope that more choices for women—not less—will help us achieve a world where this procedure is no longer necessary. Overturning Roe v Wade is not the answer to our culture war over abortion. The rights of women to choose when and with whom they are intimate, when they have children and when they will not, should be held sacred.