In a Point/Counterpoint last week, longtime anti-abortion extremist Kristi Burton Brown defended the dangerous restriction in Colorado that arbitrarily limits the locations where survivors of sexual violence who rely on Medicaid can access abortion care - forcing survivors all across the state to travel to the Denver-metro area for this care. As a physician with two decades of experience caring for patients, I feel it is important to weigh in.
In my practice, I often provide care to survivors. Accessing abortion care is often a long road for survivors, especially the youngest ones. When I recently faced a young survivor who had suffered several years of abuse, I recognized the unbelievable strength it took to get to our health center. This patient had to report her abuser, navigate the health care system in a language that was not in her family’s primary language, and coordinate the time away from school and her mother’s time away from work and her other children.
As I saw this patient, listened to her story, and realized that her Medicaid would not cover the procedure in an outpatient facility, I simply could not turn her away to begin that process over again. Coordinating additional travel was not feasible and this patient may not have been able to access abortion care at all. At PPRM, we care for patients no matter what, and we cared for this individual, as we proudly do for every survivor that seeks care with us. But that may not be possible for all health care systems and abortion providers. Patients who rely on Medicaid should not be at a disadvantage.
This restriction comes at the cost to patients' health and safety. Patients seeking abortion care with private insurance or those who pay out of pocket can access care at high-quality, compassionate reproductive health care through providers all across the state. If there were any medical reasons for this restriction, if this was truly a matter of patient safety, it wouldn’t apply only to survivors of sexual violence who rely on Medicaid.
Coloradans have shown over and over we believe in reducing barriers to essential health care. It is time we remove this outdated, discriminatory, arbitrary restriction that is out of step with our Colorado values.