With the recent passage of Alabama’s total abortion ban – a new law that from the moment of fertilization relegates a pregnant person into a secondary concern behind that of a developing zygote – many people across the United States feel like they have woken up to a fantasy world. It’s not hard to understand, why, either. For decades now abortion opponents have subtly, restriction by restriction, stripped away at a person’s right to decide when they want to give birth, often claiming they are doing it as a “favor” to the person who doesn’t want to be pregnant, protecting them from fictitious medical or emotional damage that they insist could result from abortion.
But sadly this isn’t a fantasy – it’s a reality. Given unlimited power in dozens of states and in the White House, anti-abortion activists have stopped playing pretend when it comes to ending reproductive rights. They want it to happen immediately and totally, and they don’t care who knows it, or how contemptuous their actions are to those who are able to get pregnant.
The truth is that when it comes to healthcare issues in general and pregnancy, fetal development and childbirth, it is the anti-abortion movement that is living in a fantasy world. They are proposing medical procedures – like “re-implanting an ectopic pregnancy” – that have never, ever existed. They claim abortion is never medically necessary despite the fact that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists [ACOG] the leading healthcare organization for those who care for pregnant people, states clearly that, “Abortions are necessary in a number of circumstances to save the life of a woman or to preserve her health. Sadly, pregnancy is not a risk-free life event.” They are anti science, anti advancement and anti research and despite these facts are being allowed to create legislation that undermines a patient’s care.
And unfortunately, it is the mainstream medical profession that is allowing this movement to promote this pretend world where every fertilized egg is a tiny but perfectly formed replication of a glowing, chubby newborn, and that pregnancy is just a short, minor inconvenience that has no lasting physical effects, much less threatens a person’s life. So-called “pro-life” doctors willfully spread misinformation to confuse patients and undermine our work. Ambivalent medical professionals in my state of Arizona including maternal fetal medicine physicians ostracize those of us who openly perform elective abortions, abandoning us until they have their own patients who need care, then quietly refer them over because they aren’t trained to do the procedures themselves. Doctors in my community continue to abandon abortion providers, allowing us to be vilified and demonized, then are shocked to see the passage of full abortion bans with no exceptions – even for looming health issues – bans that mean they, too, could be criminally penalized if they put their pregnant patients’ health needs ahead of the developing life of an embryo.
Pregnant people are more than wombs and incubators, yet these new bans showcase the right’s endgame of dehumanizing those who can give birth in favor of the possible birth of any implanted blastocyst. Physicians themselves who proclaim to be maternal fetal medicine advocates and specialists are actually only fetal doctors. Women with extremely abnormal pregnancies, fetuses with poor prognosis or their own health issues, are left own their own to get the medical care they need. The future is clearly about forced birth regardless of the health or mental well-being of the person who serves as the true patient – and not just abortion providers but all medical professionals will be expected to fall in line.
That future is a true nightmare, and if we don’t wake up and stop it now, we may never get a chance to again.