What do I want to share about the impact of Dobbs and overturn of Roe over the past year? It has been a year of confusion and misinformation.
Confusion happens because health care professionals, patients, and sometimes counselors do not know from day to day the true factual information, which can change overnight. What am I to tell the patients today regarding their choices? Has something changed since yesterday? Does the patient understand the uncertainty of day-to-day decisions depending on the length of a pregnancy? Do I understand? What are the opinions of my hospital and legal staff? Is termination of a pregnancy still legal in my state? Do I have to transfer this patient to another hospital or even to another state? There are so many questions with sometimes confusing answers for clinicians and patients.
A patient with a complication of her pregnancy at 21 weeks of gestation is certain that she does not want to continue the pregnancy. Does she need to go to another state? Does she have to unfortunately continue the pregnancy? Who will pay for her expenses if she has to travel? Besides the complications of the pregnancy, these are the thoughts and others that have to go through her mind. Simply saying “that’s the law” does not show compassion or understanding for what the patient is going through. It may be true, but it also may not be helpful. We need real clarity state by state on status and factual information.
Misinformation our patients receive is a real concern. Our job as obstetrician–gynecologists and friends and colleagues of obstetrician–gynecologists is to make sure that our patients receive accurate, understandable, and truthful information about their options to continue or terminate a pregnancy. Tactics such as speaking untruths or half-truths are to be condoned. Wherever in our communities false information is being given, we should promptly address it. We must make sure that our patients receive the best information so that they can make the best decision for them. Failure to do so can, as in the past, result in our patients having serious morbidity and even mortality.
It’s been a hard and tough year for us and our patients, but we will together overcome this confusion and misinformation, finding ways to better serve our patients.
Disclaimer: Published submissions reflect the experiences of individual ACOG members and may not represent official organizational opinions of ACOG. This information is designed as an educational resource to aid clinicians in providing obstetric and gynecologic care, and use of this information is voluntary. It does not constitute legal advice; clinicians should be familiar with and comply with federal, state, and local restrictions on abortion, including medication abortion, and are encouraged to consult with a lawyer when navigating local abortion laws and regulations. This information should not be considered as inclusive of all proper treatments or methods of care or as a statement of the standard of care. It is not intended to substitute for the independent professional judgment of a treating clinician.
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