This week marks the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark US Supreme Court decision that secured abortion rights in America.
For abortion rights advocates, it’s a bittersweet anniversary since the Supreme Court overturned the Roe over Dobbs decision last year. Since then more than a dozen states have banned or heavily restricted abortion.
In Massachusetts, abortion remains legal and is widely supported by the medical community. More than a hundred medical professionals gathered at Brigham and Women’s Hospital on Monday to mark Roe’s anniversary and discuss the future of abortion access.
WBUR asked two OB-GYNs and abortion care providers how they’re thinking about abortion rights 50 years after Roe — and seven months after Roe was overturned.
Dr. Deborah Bartz is the associate director of Brigham’s Family Planning Clinic, and Dr. Alisa Goldberg leads Brigham’s Family Planning Department. This interview has been edited and condensed.
As a health care provider, what does Roe’s anniversary mean to you?
Bartz: “We love doing this work. This work is incredibly inspiring, and we don’t want to lose the focus of this mission. So the 50th anniversary is a day for us to recognize what Roe v. Wade was, and what it meant to so many people for so long, and come together in a way to celebrate the work we do come.”
Goldberg: “Why celebrate Roe now? I think the reason to celebrate is in recognition of a time and many years ahead where government and policy have put the health, life and well-being of women first – women and people who can become pregnant.” Huh .
“What has been so harrowing since the Dobbs decision is that policies are now shifting away from a primary concern over the health and well-being of pregnant people. I am hopeful that maybe we can get back to some point where policies First and foremost protect the health and well-being of the people they are designed to serve.”
Why do you think abortion is an essential part of health care and should be widely available?
Goldberg: The risk of death with stillbirth is 14 times higher than with an early abortion. So if someone is pregnant, and is considering whether or not to continue with that pregnancy, the option with the least risk to her health and life is early abortion.
“Even among patients who want to become pregnant, things don’t always go according to plan, and there are a variety of maternal health conditions or obstetrical complications. In those circumstances, the risks become even greater.” And often, it is in the best case scenario. in the interest of the patient’s health to terminate the pregnancy.
“In balancing the amount of risk to one’s health and life, the individual himself must be the deciding factor,
Bartz: “For those of us who work in abortion care, we in no way negate the idea that abortion is difficult, a place of tension that we all feel as we discuss the moral status of the fetus and the debate over reproductive rights and reproductive rights. Let’s consider the health concern of the pregnant person.
“We have taken care of many patients across the spectrum – including patients who firmly believe that abortion is wrong at the same time that they are having their own abortion. We firmly believe that each case is complex and nuanced, and Every patient is in the best position to make their own reproductive health care decisions. We give them the space to make those decisions.
“Some are life-saving abortions. Some cases are life-saving emotionally.”
Sometimes doctors are also targeted for this work. Do you feel at a greater risk providing abortion care since you turned cry last year?
Goldberg: “It’s not new, and it comes in waves. There are times when things flare up, and some people get angry. And then the rhetoric calms down, and then maybe the people who were upset calm down a bit.” Let’s go
“It’s something we’ve had to think about in the back of our minds from the beginning. When you take it on, you have to think about it.”
Bartz: “There is no doubt that society is actually becoming more polarized on a whole host of issues. It is concerning how society is headed in this direction.
“I think we just need to take a deep breath, and we just need to do what we think is important, and do it in a way that’s smart, and in a way that’s safe, and Make sure our patients are taken.” Take care in the best possible way.”
Are you seeing more patients in your clinic from states that have recently restricted abortion?
Goldberg: “We’re definitely seeing a steady flow. We’re certainly looking at people from those states – people who have the resources, who can travel, and largely people who have a reason to come to Massachusetts, either because they have family or friends here , they have ties to the area, or sometimes because they have a health care provider in their state who knows a health care provider in our state and makes a referral. We’re probably looking at most of Texas.”
Bartz: “We’ve seen patients come from the South and the Midwest, but those demographics tend to be patients that have the ability to make those travel arrangements unfortunately. So it’s really fueled disparities within health care.”