Friday, 18 September 2020
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I’m an ER physician. Here’s why abortion isn’t an ‘essential health service.’ camilo jimenez/Unsplash

I’m an ER physician. Here’s why abortion isn’t an ‘essential health service.’

(The Daily Signal) Although we appear to be “flattening the curve” of the COVID-19 pandemic, with governors slowly lifting stay-at-home orders and hospitals beginning to schedule surgeries again, infection spikes in certain regions remain a possibility. 

Throughout the coming months, we need to focus as a society on medical care that will not only help us survive but thrive. 

Working in emergency rooms as an emergency medicine physician of more than 20 years, I’m particularly concerned that abortion activists have been promoting and advocating abortion as an “essential health service.” 

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An essential health service is a health care action or medical procedure that is essential to protecting the life of a human. But the truth is that rather than helping women through this pandemic, abortion is more likely to worsen the toll of illness. 

Any decision about a medical procedure as serious as terminating a pregnancy must be made with facts and an assessment of risks. When medical equipment is scarce and many resources must be directed toward treating victims of COVID-19, continuing to perform abortions is medically irresponsible

Here are three key facts: 

1. The stress of COVID-19 adds to abortion’s emotional toll. 

Abortion is known to result in mental health issues, and COVID-19 is likely to exacerbate those negative effects. Anxiety and fear have exploded during this time as many Americans suffer from prolonged isolation and economic challenges.

Calls to the federal mental health crisis hotline are nearly 900% greater than this time last year. According to Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly half (45%) of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been affected negatively due to worry and stress over the coronavirus. 

Combined with the emotional toll of abortion, the impact of this stress is amplified. Abortion long has been associated with serious, adverse mental health outcomes such as depression, grief, persistent sadness, and elevated stress—many of the same mental health challenges we are seeing from COVID-19.

Losing a baby, whether from abortion or a spontaneous miscarriage, causes emotional pain. Women who have abortions face higher rates of depression

Data shows an increase in the number of suicide attempts by women who previously had an abortion. In fact, women who get abortions are at a 154% increased risk of suicide, according to the Southern Medical Journal.

What’s more, we know that women sometimes are coerced into abortion as a result of domestic abuse. Claiming that abortion is an “essential health service” only will minimize the emotional risks, fueling this cycle of violence and pressure. 

At a time when domestic abuse afflicts more women than ever before, we need to respect and support women, not encourage them to get abortions. 

2. Complications from abortion are more dangerous during a pandemic. 

Complications from an abortion are a significant risk—even more so during a pandemic with an over-stressed health care system. I’ve seen firsthand the life-threatening medical complications that stem from an abortion procedure. 

This type of crisis is often the result of abortion clinics not being equipped to provide the necessary emergency care. Instead, they send women to the ER. 

Abortion itself carries risks of infection and increases the likelihood of women needing additional medical supervision and treatment. Also, blood loss, inflammatory stress, and other adverse outcomes from abortion can compromise a woman’s health and immune system, which makes her more susceptible to contracting a virus.

Chemical abortions, such as by the brand-name drug Mifeprex, are no safer. Typically 5% to 7% of women who undergo a chemical abortion require surgical follow-up procedures. Experimenting with an abortion at home—especially right now—is very dangerous. 

3.  COVID-19 doesn’t affect pregnancies. 

I have heard from pregnant women who are worried that continuing a pregnancy during COVID-19 could be harmful. I understand their concerns, but the available data suggests that pregnant women do not suffer from coronavirus infections

And as yet there is no evidence of vertical transmission of the coronavirus from mother to baby; the virus hasn’t been found in breast milk or amniotic fluid after birth. To date, the research shows that women infected with the coronavirus during pregnancy don’t have a higher incidence of compromised health or unhealthy babies. 

Some women may be considering abortion because they fear that increased doctor visits and a hospital birth might expose them and their family at home to COVID-19. In actuality, abortion puts women at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than their pregnancy does.

 *** 

Abortion has long-term detrimental effects on a woman, the data shows. Our nation desperately needs more love and hope, and less death and despair.

Tweet This: Abortion has long-term detrimental effects on a woman, the data shows-Our nation desperately needs more love & hope, & less death & despair

The reality is that if women who face unplanned pregnancies view abortion as the “healthy” option, we know that it is in fact a fatal deception. 

As a physician who deals with death daily in the ER, I can say that death of any kind is horrific. I believe we can and must protect the lives of both the young and the old, and this includes protecting preborn human life.

Editor's note: Dr. Scott French oversees clinical operations for Human Coalition, a pro-life health care organization. He is a practicing board-certified emergency physician in Indiana and teaches emergency medicine. This article was originally published at The Heritage Foundation's news platform The Daily Signal.

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