Throughout nearly half of a century the healthcare system has evolved. No event is more indicative of change than the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. Women’s healthcare has drastically changed over the past year in regards to reproductive rights. There are now 15 states that have banned legal abortions, forcing women to take matters into their own hands. Some have traveled state to state, far from home to get access to abortion pills and procedures. USC Annenberg leaders held a webinar last week with OB-GYN Jamila Perritt to discuss life after Roe vs. Wade.
States that have banned abortions include Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The Centers for Disease Control holds statistics from 2020 illustrating the high maternal mortality rate women suffer from. For instance, Louisiana has had 58.1 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Mississippi and Alabama had a rate of an average of 20 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
Jamila Perritt, Board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist and fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society of Family Planning says, “The changes after the overturning were evident as I now have to travel further for my clients. The medical center has to hire more physicians and OB-GYNs to accommodate the uptick of patients flying in from different states to receive help.”
Some women have chosen to outsource abortions non-professionally, as there were an estimated 24,290 fewer legal abortions in the past nine months. The fight will continue for women’s reproductive rights, as there have been lawsuits in different states potentially banning abortion pills and birth control. While the outlook in certain areas may seem dismal, medical healthcare professionals want to encourage women not to give up.
Perrit further explained some of the changes physicians are making since the overturning.
“Part of the work we do at Physician’s Reproductive Health is to organize and mobilize our physicians to treat people for everything across the board, and abortion care is part of that treatment. We found that tapping into the passion of treating people has helped our physicians to fight for reproductive health care and abortion rights, and of course, it’s going to look different depending on the person and their location, but we all share commonalities.” Perritt said as she explained how physicians play a more prominent role in the fight for reproductive rights.
Perritt continues, “The only way to improve the healthcare system and accommodate our patients better is to surround them with medical professionals who live and work in their community, understand them and can relate to their upbringing and struggles. We can’t fully help patients if we are strangers to them.”
Perritt also highlighted that she has to be very mindful of where she treats patients she travels to. Perritt has suffered threats not only to herself but to her family which have increased as she knowingly disagrees with state leaders over the violation of women’s reproductive rights.
“While the federal level made the ultimate decision, the fight over reproductive rights started at the state level and is carried out at the state level at this moment. Medical professionals aren’t in the position to lead the fight, but we are capable of supporting community leaders and grassroots organizations with the leverage and power of position we have as professionals.”