Health experts welcome Supreme Court’s decision preserving abortion access
Health experts applauded the Supreme Court’s decision Monday that reversed a Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to hold admitting privileges at local hospitals.
“The ruling is an important win in reaffirming the right to access abortion,” said Katharine O’Connell White, MD, MPH, director of the fellowship in family planning at Boston Medical Center, told Healio Primary Care. “Abortion is essential, time-sensitive health care that cannot be delayed — even in a pandemic.”
The AMA, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the ACP also welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision.
“We are pleased that the Supreme Court has recognized the importance of leaving determination of what constitutes medically necessary treatment where it belongs — in the hands of physicians in consultation with their patients,” Susan R. Bailey, AMA president, said in a statement, echoing the sentiment of the other medical societies.
Leslie Kantor, PhD, MPH, chair of the department of urban-global public health at Rutgers School of Public Health, noted that contrary to some of the arguments that were made in court, an abortion does not need to be performed in a hospital to be safe.
“Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures that exists,” she told Healio Primary Care. “It is extraordinarily rare for a woman needing to be admitted to the hospital following abortion.”
The Supreme Court’s decision keeps 15 other states from “moving swiftly” to enact similar requirements for admitting privileges that would have reduced abortion access, according to Rebecca B. Reingold, JD, senior associate at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University.
Rebecca J. Kreitzer, PhD, assistant professor of public policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the Louisiana law would have “substantially decreased the number and geographic distribution of abortion providers in the state, such that pregnant people would likely need to wait longer to get an abortion — which is associated with higher cost and complications — or be unable to get one at all because of gestational limits on abortion.”
Delays in accessing abortion providers can also cause mental health problems for women, Thomas S. Dardarian, DO, FACOOG, an OB-GYN in suburban Philadelphia, told Healio Primary Care.
“When the decision is made to terminate a pregnancy, the woman wants it done ASAP,” he said. “These women have a lot of anxiety and they want to move forward emotionally.”