In response to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, good intentions to restore abortion access can actually cause real and lasting harm, and will set us back. Leading medical authorities like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have warned against any and all governmental interference in the practice of medicine. Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri agrees — in a post-Roe reality, the Roe framework and any legislative, policy, or political interference in reproductive health care including abortion will not get our support. Here’s what a Roe framework and/or governmental interference can look like:
- “Viability” limits, even when it’s packaged as an abortion access policy. “Viability” is not a medical construct and has no relevance to clinical care. It is a political construct set under Roe v. Wade. We now know that the viability standard tried and failed to balance state and personal interests, and it did not work. If we mean what we say — that Roe was the floor, not the ceiling — then advocates and allies must abandon the Roe framework and allow providers and patients the freedom to make decisions about their health care plan.
- Any parental involvement (notification or consent), even when it’s packaged with physician bypass measures. As long-time abortion providers that practiced in the state of Missouri, we know the targeted and hostile scrutiny politicians place against us. Physician bypass measures put the burden on already-targeted providers. Just like doctors are now withholding care from pregnant people out of fear of prosecution, so too will many providers withhold care from young people who might not have a trusted adult or a safe home environment.
- Defining medical emergencies for an abortion. Any attempt by politicians to define medical emergencies is fruitless. This is not how medicine works. Nobody can predict the countless circumstances that can put a pregnant person’s life in danger. Legislating these emergencies creates dangerous roadblocks for doctors who need to treat each patient based on their unique needs. Mandates run counter to good medical practice.
- Suggesting birth control is legally nebulous. It isn’t. As a matter of fact, not opinion, birth control, including emergency contraception, prevents pregnancy. Just because political influences questioned the legality of birth control in a post-Roe reality does not make it relevant and we certainly should not be legislating this issue.
History tells us that concessions under the guise of compromise disproportionately impact the people whose access to care is already impeded by racist and oppressive systems. History also tells us that we did not lose the right to abortion in one court decision, but rather years of whittling away at access on a foundation of compromises and concessions. When we say Roe was not enough, we mean we must work towards policies that protect patients and their providers and create unencumbered access. Any restriction or limitation on abortion is governmental interference and violates each person’s freedom to make personal medical decisions.