By Susan Bane, M.D.
This appeared in the Daily Signal.
Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights and its allies persuaded a lot of people who believe in limits on induced abortion to vote in favor of abortions of preborn children who could survive outside the womb using a barbaric dilation-and-evacuation procedure, in which babies are dismembered.
While the procedures permitted by Issue 1 are extreme, the messaging to persuade people to vote for it was not. The messaging appealed to all voters with a message that resonated with the shared values of conservatives in this red state, as well as that of moderates and liberals.
As a physician who has practiced OB-GYN care that embraces both patients, the mother and her child, I’m alarmed that some of my fellow doctors colluded with abortion extremists and messaging specialists to promote the narrative that abortion limits restrict the care we are able to give our patients.
That narrative is harmful to women, their babies, and the practice of medicine.
So many of my patients and patients of other doctors who practice life-affirming care come to us with the same story: “My child has a life-limiting condition, and the only option given to me was to abort.”
One time, I delivered two babies by cesarean section. One passed away eight hours later; the other is thriving to this day. The mother treasures the time she was able to spend with the twin who only lived eight hours after he was born.
Both pre- and post-Roe v. Wade, most obstetricians and gynecologists—76% to 93% of us—have been providing exceptional health care for both our maternal and fetal patients without doing induced abortions.
We know how to do our jobs. We are trained and desire to partner with our maternal patients during low-risk and high-risk pregnancies alike to protect both of our patients from harm, and there is no law in our country that prevents us from doing so.
Yes, there are times when we must prematurely separate our maternal and fetal patient, and the unintended consequence is the death of our fetal patient. That’s completely different, however, from an induced abortion, because our intention of the intervention is to separate and save them both, if possible, not to intentionally end the life of one of them.
Women deserve health care in which doctors can be trusted to try to save both the woman and her preborn child.
It is unfair to women to end the life of their preborn children without presenting them with all of their options. Too many times, I have spoken with women who were told they needed to have an induced abortion when there were other options, including expectant management (waiting with careful monitoring) or perinatal palliative care (hospice) for a baby with a life-limiting condition.
Women are harmed when they cannot trust their doctors to tell them about all of their options.
Doing that includes connecting them with tangible resources that address any socioeconomic barriers they face that often lead to a decision to have an induced abortion.
Americans do not have to say “yes” to state ballot initiatives to constitutionalize induced abortion to protect themselves or their daughters, girlfriends, or wives. Doctors don’t have to harm our fetal patients to take care of our maternal patients.
What doctors do have to do, however, is allow their voices to be heard. While there were some doctors in Ohio against Issue 1 who were willing to speak up, many remained quiet.
Yes, it’s scary to put yourself out there when we live in a society that would rather resort to name-calling than making a persuasive argument. Yes, it’s scary to work for employers who threaten your right to free speech. Yes, it feels like you are alone, but please know you are not.
Most of my colleagues do not practice induced abortion and do not believe abortion is essential health care. My colleagues across all different kinds of practices and states leave abortion to a small group of providers and shouldn’t let this small group drown out our voices.
Courage is contagious. It’s time to be courageous.
Editor’s note. Dr. Susan Bane, Ph.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist who has practiced medicine for 25 years in North Carolina. She is a board member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists.