Doctors say government intervention in reproductive health care is “incredibly dangerous” for patients

“Until we address structural issues like racism, we will never solve this maternal mortality problem,” Creer-Perry said.

She later explained while answering a journalist’s question that she was from the deep South and that in order for the South to rise, white Southern women would have to do something about the political decisions of their husbands and other men in their lives—for example, not expanding Medicaid and not offering paid leave. It kills them, Creer-Perry said.

She later added that hospitals also need to be more responsive to patient needs. They cannot continue to approach health care in terms of the medical equipment needed to solve this maternal mortality problem. Patients who have doulas and midwives have better outcomes, Creer-Perry said. So she started advocating for them.

We don’t need thingssaid the doctor. “We need empathy. We need love. We need care.”

Dr. Jack Resneck, president of the American Medical Association, said there are huge drivers of health care that hospitals have traditionally overlooked, such ashousing insecurity, food insecurity and gun violence. American Medical Association advises physicians to go out into their communities and do something about these problems as an approach to improving health care.

On the political side of the conversation, there are gaping holes in insurance coverage and health services for poor communities. Sen. Patty Murray, chairwoman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, issued a report on the state of abortion policy after Roe v. Wade.

In the report, the committee wrote, citing additional research:

“Prior to 1973, access to abortion was challenging or nearly impossible in most of the United States. Because providers in most states could not openly perform abortions without the threat of legal action, many pregnant women resorted to attempting abortions themselves or to unlicensed providers who operated in secret, often inadequately trained to deal with potential complications and did not have access to the facilities or equipment necessary to maintain the health of their patients. (…) These abortions were extremely risky, causing shocking rates of maternal injury and death. (…) Lack of access to safe abortions was particularly deadly for women of color, who made up seventy percent of women who died from unsupervised abortions.”

Maternal mortality fell 45 percent from 1972 to 1974, the year after the Supreme Court legalized abortion at the federal level, the Senate committee reported.

“Research shows that women who live in states with these restrictive bans are likely to face significant health consequences,” the commission’s report said. “Self-administered abortions, health care providers hesitant to provide care for pregnancy complications, lack of access to other reproductive health services, and delays in care for cancer and other serious illnesses are all likely to contribute to rising rates of maternal mortality and serious illness.

“These health impacts will affect women across the country if Republican lawmakers succeed in enacting a national abortion ban and as more states seek to ban or severely restrict access to abortion.”

Resneck said Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program no longer cover people long enough after birth. Large cities and rural areas are reporting birth center closures, and doctors are working with both unconscious and conscious biases.

Dr. Diana Contreras, chief health officer at Planned Parenthood, said the most difficult aspect of health care since Roe right now is the confusion. People don’t know their rights, where they can go for reproductive care, or when they can get an abortion. They wonder if they can get an abortion, if they should get an intrauterine device (IUD), a form of birth control, now— because they may not be able to after three years, when their rights may be further violated.

“The fall of Rowe has wreaked havoc on the medical community,” Contreras said. “Legislators are interfering in medical care, and that’s very dangerous.

She mentioned the 10-year-old rape victim who had to travel from Ohio to Indiana for an abortion.

RELATED STORY: Right wing should apologize to 10-year-old rape victim for denying her story

Not only was she cruel, but “the doctor who took care of her was cruel,” Contrera said. She also mentioned one of her patients who came in with vaginal bleeding and ended up with cervical cancer. That patient also learned she was 14 weeks pregnant and had to make a decision about her medical care, Contreras said.

Others may not be.

“It’s unbelievable where we’re going and it’s imperative that we don’t let this go,” Contrera said, calling the current state of health care “unconscionable.”

Contreras said Planned Parenthood is trying to work with the administration, reproductive health groups, anyone willing to partner to help connect patients with resources and facilitate access to reproductive health care. Journalists’ ability to educate the public is vital to this work, she added.

Dr. Elena Rios, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association, said that while we need to educate ourselves and our family members, we need journalists to help fight mistrust of the medical community. This mistrust was formed as a result of decades of racist medical practices such as forced sterilization in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s.

She recommended Hispanic Health, health portal The National Hispanic Medical Association is partnering with other health advocacy organizations to create a resource for people of color. Rios also applauded President Joe Biden’s decision to sign an executive order protecting anti-abortion travel and urged communities of color to get out to local elections and vote.

RELATED STORY: President Joe Biden signs an executive order in an effort to protect abortion travel

“All our lives we have participated in voting, but not with a cause. It’s a cause,” Rios said of access to reproductive care.

After Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Org a decision that effectively overruled the decision of Roe v. Wade, there was not only active disinformation, but disinformation. Meanwhile, many doctors are faced with having to decide between what is best for their patients and complying with state law.

Resneck said that on the one hand, doctors have an ethical obligation to do what’s best for patients, and on the other hand, attorneys general and other government officials interfere in those decisions. This is “incredibly dangerous” for patients, the doctor said.

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