One group is especially disappointed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Friday in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturns the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that protected abortion rights under the Constitution: ob-gyns, who may now face prosecution for treating their patients.
In response, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued a statement criticizing the decision for allowing states to interfere in medical care.
“Today’s decision is a direct blow to bodily autonomy, reproductive health, patient safety and health equity in the United States,” Dr. Iffath Hoskins, the president of ACOG, said in the statement. “Reversing the constitutional protection for safe, legal abortion established by the Supreme Court nearly fifty years ago exposes pregnant people to arbitrary, state-based restrictions, regulations, and bans that will leave many people unable to access needed medical care.”
Hoskins added that “the restrictions put forth are not based on science nor medicine; they allow unrelated third parties to make decisions that rightfully and ethically should be made only by individuals and their physicians. ACOG condemns this devastating decision, which will allow state governments to prevent women from living with autonomy over their bodies and their decisions.”
Many ob-gyns are concerned that providing necessary emergency care to women with troubled pregnancies could run afoul of abortion bans. In Ireland, abortion was legalized of a woman who died from an infection after being denied treatment for her miscarriage — which is, in essence, to abort the dead fetus — by doctors who were afraid of breaking the law against abortion became a rallying cry for abortion rights supporters.
“[Ob-gyns] don’t like this ruling because every time a woman miscarries, there’s going to be suspicion that she did something to cause it,” Dr. Judith Weinstock, a retired ob-gyn who practiced in Brooklyn, N.Y., told Yahoo News. “My previous medical partner remembers before Roe v. Wade when people would come in in septic shock and half-dead from trying to abort themselves at home.”
A number of conservative-leaning states have passed laws that would punish abortion providers with criminal penalties. In Alabama, performing an abortion would be punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison. There is no exception for rape, incest or any circumstance other than if the pregnant woman’s health is at serious risk.
Most obstetricians and gynecologists, however, see abortion as a normal part of health care. In conjunction with other doctors’ organizations, including the American Medical Association, ACOG, which has more than 62,000 members, filed an amicus brief in Dobbs v. Jackson, arguing against overturning Roe. In Dobbs, the court upheld a Mississippi law that banned abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
“Access to abortion is an important component of reproductive health care,” the brief stated. “Mississippi’s attempt to ban nearly all abortions after fifteen weeks of pregnancy is fundamentally at odds with the provision of safe and essential health care, scientific evidence, and medical ethics.”
The brief said that there’s “no medical or scientific justification for House Bill 1510 (the ‘fifteen-week ban’ or ‘Ban’). Instead, the Ban threatens the health of pregnant patients by arbitrarily barring their access to a safe and essential component of health care. In particular, patients of color, those with limited socioeconomic means, and those in rural communities would be most severely harmed should the Ban be allowed to go into effect.”
ACOG reiterated those arguments in its statement on Friday.
“Abortion is a safe, essential part of comprehensive health care, and just like any other safe and effective medical intervention, it must be available equitably to people, no matter their race, socioeconomic status or where they reside,” the statement read.
“If you’re for women’s health, you have to be against this ruling,” Weinstock concluded. “More women are going to die.”