As is the case for so many women — whether or not abortion should be enshrined as a right in our state constitution is a deeply personal question for me.
But it’s also of the gravest professional importance.
As a family physician here in Ohio, I am tasked with the care of women, their children and their unborn children every day.
I consider it a privilege to guide new moms through some of the happiest moments of their lives. I also consider it a privilege to be with women in difficult, even heartbreaking situations resulting from unplanned pregnancies or adverse prenatal diagnoses.
I know from experience that pregnancy is a time of great vulnerability for many women. It is normal to feel shame, anxiety, or fear. It is all too common to experience pressure from your partner, family, or even career to terminate the pregnancy. For many women, abortion seems like the easiest route until they go through with it—and then they realize the physical, emotional, and psychological toll that it takes.
I had one patient, a 30-year-old woman with two small children, who had an unplanned pregnancy.
The father of the baby coerced her into an abortion even though she did not want one.
He was never held accountable, but the woman, my patient, was left with an incredible burden of guilt and shame. It is painful to see, and I sometimes ask myself if I could have done more to prevent it.
Stories like this are all too common despite what many abortion advocates claim.
For my patient, abortion was not some moment of feminist pride that made her feel powerful. It made her feel powerless. As a healthcare provider, that’s a feeling you don’t want your patient to experience as a result of a medical procedure, especially a voluntary one.
It is abundantly clear to me that if Issue 1 passes we will have more women pushed into procedures they do not want, that harm their bodies, and that leave them with lasting emotional and physical scars.
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Such is the cost of an unregulated abortion market.
Such is the price of not just tolerating abortion as “safe, legal, and rare” (a common refrain among advocates) but of celebrating it as a human right and a source of pride for women.
Defenders of Issue 1 claim that the measure only enshrines abortion as a right up to the point of viability, or if the mother’s health is at risk. But in reality, the measure would leave it entirely up to physicians to determine viability or whether the woman’s health is at risk.
Activist judges have already set the precedent that “health” can include not just physical health but also emotional and financial health.
In other words, we would leave a wide-open door for the abortion industry—and it is an industry, driven by profit motive—to justify virtually any abortion it wants, right up until the moment of birth.
Imagine passing a constitutional amendment that left it up to oil companies to determine whether a drilling project was safe for the environment.
It’s a blank check.
And by giving power to the industry, we take power away from everyone else—patients, doctors, citizens, and our elected representatives.
I mentioned at the beginning that this issue is personal for me. That’s true not just because I am a woman. It’s personal because, last year, I had an unplanned pregnancy and learned that my daughter had a congenital heart defect and down syndrome. I was scared. I didn’t know what life would look like for her or my family.
Sadly, because of misunderstandings about down syndrome, and because of physicians who offer abortion like it is a cure for anything abnormal about a baby, 70% of children with down syndrome are terminated. But I defied the statistic and chose to have my daughter, and every day I am thankful that I did. She is wonderful, she is thriving, and she is an amazing gift to our family and community.
I am glad I made my decision on fact and not fear, but I know that Issue 1 will encourage many women to make decisions on fear. I worry that my daughter will grow up without others like herself. I also worry that even more of my patients will be pressured into decisions that are harmful to them and fatal to their children.
That’s why I am voting ‘no’ on Issue 1, and I hope others will too.
LifeNews Note: Dr. Lindsay Rerko is a family medicine specialist in Westerville. In 2019, she testified as an interested party before the Senate Heath and Medicaid Committee against abortion and on behalf of unborn children.
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