/Doctor worry about their futures amid Roe v. Wade uncertainty

Doctor worry about their futures amid Roe v. Wade uncertainty

  • Doctors are worried for their practice and future as the fate of Roe v. Wade remains in limbo.
  • Dr. Jamila Perritt told Insider she’s spent over 20 years preparing for her role in reproductive healthcare.
  • But now it’s all “being thrown into question,” she added.

As the fate of Roe v. Wade is called into question, so too is the profession of doctors who practice abortion care. 

Doctors are worried not just for their patients but also for their own practices, according to Dr. Jamila Perritt, president and CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health. 

On Monday, Politico published a leaked draft opinion in which Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito called the 1973 landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortions nationwide “egregiously wrong from the start.”

Abortion will remain legal in the United States until the court hands down a final verdict, which could come as early as June when the bench decides the verdict for another abortion case. But the draft itself was enough to put reproductive rights activists and doctors who perform abortions on edge. 

medical protfessionals holding protest signs

A group of doctors and medical workers join protesters gathering in front of the State House to show support and rally for abortion rights in Boston, Massachusetts, May 3, 2022.


If Roe were to be overturned, it would be illegal in 23 states to obtain an abortion. And in several others, there might be added restrictions. 

Medical practitioners who perform abortions spent up to decades of their life learning about, advancing, and practicing reproductive health, Dr. Perritt, a board-certified, fellowship-trained obstetrician and gynecologist in Washington, DC, told Insider.

“I think the biggest fear that my colleagues, that I have is that the 20 plus years we’ve spent training to do this work, that we’ve spent in medical school and residency and fellowship is now being thrown into question,” she said.

She and her colleagues are wondering not only whether their patients are going to be able to receive the reproductive healthcare they need, but also whether they’re going to continue to be able to practice what they’ve devoted the majority of their adult lives to learning.

“We’re physicians. We’re healthcare providers,” she said. “It is our job to care for our communities in a way that is supportive, in a way that is compassionate, and that is free from stigma and change. That’s why we came to the work and that’s the work we want to be able to continue to do.”

protest holding sign that reads "lawmakers aren't doctors"

Pro-choice activists protest during a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on May 3, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

When news broke of the leaked SCOTUS draft Monday night, Perritt and her colleagues felt a wave of disappointment, she said. However, the strong likelihood that Roe could be overturned did not come as a surprise. 

For decades, Perritt has feared that this moment would come. She said she’s been watching former President Donald Trump stack the federal court system into a conservative powerhouse for years. That, and restrictive abortion bills popping up all over the country, gave her the impression that Roe being overturned was not just a possibility, but a probability, she said. 

But she and her colleagues are continuing to perform abortions and deliver reproductive healthcare. She said she will continue to fight on behalf of her patients. 

“If I’m at the point where I become numb to assaults against bodily autonomy and reproductive health rights and justice, I need to find a new job,” she said. “I can’t be numb to this. This is critical. This is a human rights issue.”

“I take care of real human people,” she added. “This isn’t rhetoric and political theater to me. These are actual people’s lives. And so I know that the impact, I know what the impact of being able to make a decision about building your family or not, about deciding your future, about controlling your body, I know what that looks like in real time.”

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