Membership and Fellowship |

The Difficult Decision to Leave


When I graduated from my fellowship and moved to Idaho to work as a maternal–fetal medicine physician, I would have never imagined that four years later, I would be facing the threat of felony charges for providing standard medical care for pregnancy complications.

Reflecting upon the last year since the Dobbs decision and the enactment of Idaho’s abortion ban, which was initially without any true exceptions, I now find myself living and working in a different state.

Leaving Idaho was a very difficult decision. I had amazing colleagues and coworkers, a growing network of health care professionals to care for those experiencing complex pregnancies. In those many privileged moments of caring for my patients, I helped see them through both the joyous and sometimes devastating moments. Despite the hard days and emotional toll that comes with caring for sick pregnant people, I was happy in Idaho.

When Idaho’s abortion ban went into effect, I experienced overwhelming emotions: fear, sadness, and anger. My day-to-day life was turned upside down, permeated with thoughts about past and future patients, those who had needed or would need abortion care to avoid injury or even death.

It was demoralizing to see people’s bodily autonomy taken away. Patients have been unable to receive abortion care for pregnancies with lethal fetal abnormalities; risks from underlying health complications; or—most terrifying—major complications, such as hemorrhage or preeclampsia.

A woman 20 weeks pregnant wanted to prevent suffering from lethal fetal abnormalities. Another patient, at 18 weeks with ruptured membranes, was frightened of becoming severely infected or bleeding heavily and losing her chance at any future children. Without timely abortion care, a patient in the second trimester with severe preeclampsia was at risk for major harm or even death.

As an Idaho physician, I had a hard time comprehending the threat of potentially serving prison time for providing evidence-based care or even for saving someone’s life. The new reality was that lawmakers had inserted themselves into the patient–physician relationship, and an essential part of reproductive health care was criminalized.

Ultimately, the emotional distress of working under Idaho’s abortion ban was too much. I’ve left Idaho for a safer state to practice obstetrics, but my former colleagues and patients remain on my mind. Abortion care is health care, and I will continue to defend my patients’ health and bodily autonomy.

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.

While ACOG makes every effort to present accurate and reliable information, this publication is provided “as is” without any warranty of accuracy, reliability, or otherwise, either express or implied. ACOG does not guarantee, warrant, or endorse the products or services of any firm, organization, or person. Neither ACOG nor its officers, directors, members, employees, or agents will be liable for any loss, damage, or claim with respect to any liabilities, including direct, special, indirect, or consequential damages, incurred in connection with this publication or reliance on the information presented.

Publications of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are protected by copyright, and all rights are reserved. The College’s publications may not be reproduced in any form or by any means without written permission from the copyright owner.