How doctors are reacting to the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade

After the Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade, Americans seeking reproductive health care are facing profound logistical, legal and medical obstacles. Women’s health clinics in several states are already canceling appointments overs fears of violating state laws that now restrict or ban abortion. Dr. Jamila Perritt, president of Physicians for Reproductive Health, joins Geoff Bennett to discuss.

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  • Geoff Bennett:

    In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, Americans seeking reproductive health care are facing profound logistical, legal and medical obstacles. Women's Health Clinics, and a number of states are already canceling appointments for fear that could violate state laws that now restrict or completely ban abortion. I recently spoke to Dr. Jamila Perritt, an OB/GYN based in Washington, D.C., and President and CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health. And I asked her what she has been hearing from doctors across the country, including in states where abortion is now illegal.

    Jamila Perritt, President & CEO, Physicians for Reproductive Health: Many of our providers in our network are just devastated, is devastated as the folks who are seeking care who have a need for abortion care are. You know, we weren't surprised by this ruling. We have seen the previous administration really work to aggressively stack both the federal and the state courts, with judges who are openly against abortion access. And with the leaked draft opinion, we knew that this was coming, but it's still quite a blow for many of us.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    Unpack more of the sort of medical and health implications, especially for even pregnant women who don't want an abortion but now live in states where it's illegal, as I understand it, you know, their health care options are imperiled, too?

  • Jamila Perritt:

    It's important that we understand that abortion is just the tip of the iceberg. You're absolutely right reproductive health across the board is going to be impacted in a really devastating way. We know for folks that are seeking abortion care, the inability to obtain that care results in long-term economic, social, emotional outcomes that are negative as compared with those who have been able to obtain that care.

    We know that for folks who are undecided about their options, as opposed to being able to see their healthcare provider, to see their doctor and to get unbiased counseling about what possible next steps exists. We know that now depending on where you live, depending on the state you reside in your zip code, your care may be vastly different. And so these implications are really long and far reaching, not to mention the implications that we're going to see for things like infertility care, management of pregnancy loss, and maternal mortality and morbidity. We already have abysmal rates of maternal morbidity and mortality in this country, particularly for black women who are seeking care that we know are three to four more times likely to die during childbirth, and the postpartum period. And so continuing to not make space, not make a way for folks to get the care that they need. We know that the impacts on maternal morbidity and mortality are going to be great as well.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    I want to ask you about something you tweeted, you said, there is no mandate to report someone you suspect or know has self-managed their abortion. In fact, it's a violation of privacy laws, antithetical public health and human rights frameworks and causes harm. Is that something that doctors like yourself are concerned about your own sort of legal exposure?

  • Jamila Perritt:

    Absolutely. I think it's — you know, people have been managing their abortion outside of the formal health system for a really long time. And we've seen them being arrested, jailed, punished, criminalized for doing so. And so what is important for both patients and providers to know is that there is no mandatory reporting law tie to suspicion of self-managed abortion. And so we want healthcare providers to know that.

    We also know that when doctors and other health care providers are turned into agents of the state, we've been asked to interrogate people about what they've done prior to seeking care, it keeps people out of care. So these laws suggesting that doctors should be acting as the police interrogating the patients when they're seeking care is misaligned with public health and community health principles. Absolutely.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    Dr. Jamila Perritt is an OB/GYN and President and CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health. I appreciate your time and your insights.

  • Jamila Perritt:

    Thank you for having me.

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