Membership and Fellowship |

Still Here but Struggling


I have always identified as a proud Southerner—I was born and raised in North Carolina, I currently provide care in Georgia, and I have lived in the Southeast for most of my life.

I decided to stay in Georgia after the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion care and Georgia enacted a law that bans most abortions in our state last year. I decided to stay—knowing Georgia’s law threatened to make me a criminal for providing evidence-based, lifesaving care to my patients—because I made a commitment when I became a doctor to serve my home and my community in the South.

But every day, Georgia’s law forces me to grapple with impossible situations in which the laws of my state directly violate the medical expertise I gained through years of training and the oath I took to provide the best care to my patients. Because of a law that is not based in medicine or science, I am forced to turn away patients that I know how to care for. Teenagers with chronic medical conditions that make their pregnancies very high risk, women with irregular periods who don’t realize they are pregnant until after six weeks, and couples with highly desired pregnancies who receive a terrible diagnosis of a fetal anomaly have cried after learning they can’t receive their abortion in our state and begged me to help them. I regularly have to look my patients in the eye and say—I have all the skills and the tools to care for you, but our state’s politicians have told me I can’t. I have to tell them—you are sick but not sick enough to receive care in our state based on our law’s very narrow exceptions.

One of my patients, I’ll call her M, gave me permission to share her story. She had struggled with infertility, and she and her husband were thrilled to see a positive pregnancy test after their embryo transfer. At first, everything was going smoothly. Then, at 17 weeks, when there was no chance of her baby ever developing lungs that would allow him to live outside of her, her water broke. She went to the hospital, but because her baby still had a heartbeat, her doctors couldn’t do anything to help her. Instead, she had to wait to get sick—to start bleeding heavily or develop an infection of her uterus that could spread into her bloodstream. M shared with me, “To be denied the basic medical care I needed, to be told that I must first be at risk of dying, to be forced to relive losing my baby every day for five days because of Georgia’s law, the trauma of that on top of my loss is devastating.” She told me her baby’s name was Ezekiel Charles, which means “God’s strength,” and that she would miss him at every major and minor milestone he would have had in his life.

I have stayed in Georgia to provide care for people in my community, but I am struggling—my heart breaks every day for my patients like M as I bear witness to the pain they have to carry because of these restrictions on abortion access.

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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