NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE L ast August, my OBGYN spoke words I never thought I would hear: “I’m going to schedule you for a D&C.” I remember how confused and horrified I felt; I have been pro-life for as long as I can remember, and I was going to undergo the same surgery, a dilation and curettage, that is used in abortions.
I had just learned that I had uterine polyps, and since they could be cancerous, I needed the D&C to remove and biopsy them. Before surgery, I needed a physical exam and blood work, and my doctor had to walk me through informed-consent information, including the risks I faced.
I was certainly frightened about the risks, as I had spent years researching the risks of surgical abortion: infection, hemorrhage, uterine punctures, and emergency hysterectomies. My doctor did not try to diminish those fears; she explained honestly that her patients had experienced complications such as punctured uteruses and infections in the past. But she reminded me not only that she was trained to handle these complications but also that I would be in the best possible place if anything went wrong: a hospital.
I don’t remember much about the day of my surgery — aside from how many kind and helpful medical professionals were there to care for me — but I do remember waking up the next day. It hurt. I felt like I had been tackled by a defensive lineman. Eventually, my body healed, but my heart was broken for the women of Louisiana who receive much different care during their D&Cs than I did.
After years of researching Louisiana abortion clinics, I couldn’t ignore how much worse most Louisiana women’s experiences would be compared with mine. Some women would undergo surgery in clinics that had been cited for using improperly sterilized surgical tools or for reusing single-use IV bags. Instead of being introduced to a trained anesthesiologist, as I was, untrained nurses who stored syringes in leaky zippered baggies would administer their medication. Instead of recovering in a private room with loved ones close by, they would recover in a cramped public room on torn tables that are not always wiped down in between patients. Far from having a trusted physician hold their hands, as mine did, many of these women have no idea who is performing surgery on them, nor will they know that abortion clinics in Louisiana have hired radiologists and ophthalmologists to perform surgical abortions.
Instead of being embarrassed by this failure to care properly for women and striving to do better, abortion clinics in Louisiana doubled down and sued to prevent the state from enforcing basic health-and-safety regulations that apply to other medical providers. The clinics claim that it is not necessary to have a doctor trained in obstetrics, gynecology, or family medicine performing abortion surgeries, even though their providers might not be competent to handle the surgical repair of complications. They argue that they alone, out of all medical facilities, should not be inspected by the Department of Health each year.
These abortion clinics have challenged nearly every state-enforced health-and-safety requirement, including those for informed consent, waiting and reflection periods, and pre-surgery ultrasounds. Time after time, in lawsuit after lawsuit, the Louisiana abortion industry has demanded that courts exempt them from requirements meant to ensure that women who visit their clinics receive the same care and compassion I did.
One would hope that the Supreme Court would step in to uphold the state’s right to protect these women, but in the Court’s recent June Medical Services v. Russo decision, Chief Justice John Roberts ignored the harms that abortion does to women and chose to uphold a previous decision that he admits was wrongly decided. If abortion clinics can sue to remove our health-and-safety protections, if state legislatures are not allowed to pass legislation to protect women from those clinics, and if the Court cares more about precedent than a state’s right to protect our care, it is clear that the goal of women’s health has been sacrificed in order to protect “access” to abortion.
I reject this. Women deserve to know that they are being treated equally, no matter the procedure. We deserve to know that the doctors treating us have the needed skills, competency, and medical training to perform our surgeries safely. We deserve better than the substandard care abortion clinics are trying to force upon us and what the Court and the chief justice have allowed them to get away with.