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Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

The ruling on abortion takes away the freedom of Florida residents

By Vaseline May26,2024

One day after the state of Florida implemented its six-week abortion ban on Wednesday, May 1, the Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA) issued “emergency rules” intended to clarify which exceptions are acceptable under this near-total ban. While specifying emergency situations in which doctors can legally act to save a pregnant patient’s life may sound good in theory, these AHCA rules actually cause more confusion—and illustrate why politicians shouldn’t be immediately involved in these types of medical decisions . place.

There’s no way around it: Florida’s six-week abortion ban is a near-total ban. Many women don’t even realize they are pregnant after just six weeks.

AHCA’s emergency rules purport to outline when exceptions to the ban are legally acceptable to save the life of a pregnant patient. These emergency rules are confusing and medically inappropriate. The AHCA list misses many life-threatening conditions. Eclampsia and severe bleeding are uncommon and are two of the leading causes of maternal death. Even if the list were more extensive, each list would be inadequate in practical situations.

Every pregnancy is unique and every patient’s circumstances are different. Doctors like me train for years to best serve patients and provide the right care they need at that moment to preserve their health, future fertility and life. Any list of medical conditions is not a substitute for the years of training and experience that doctors provide.

Politicians simply have no place in personal decisions regarding a patient’s health or the health of a pregnancy. Take Suzie and Jorge (not their real names) for example. Suzie and Jorge were both in their mid-twenties and excited to start a family together after a few years of marriage. Suzie and Jorge were referred to my office while Florida was under its fifteen-week abortion ban. They were about 18 weeks pregnant when their routine pregnancy ultrasound showed serious brain and spinal abnormalities. The follow-up ultrasound and amniocentesis I performed at my high-risk pregnancy center revealed a tragic diagnosis: Hurler syndrome. Hurler syndrome has no cure and leads to debilitating mental retardation, physical illness and death in childhood.

On the ultrasound we could already see serious damage to the spine, legs and brain. However, this condition was not sufficient for legal abortion in Florida, due to the 15-week ban in effect at the time. Suzie and Jorge were heartbroken, but decided their only way forward was to seek abortion care out of state. They drove to Washington, DC, for medical care.

If that’s not hard enough, Hurler Syndrome is silently carried by both parents, and this couple has a 25% chance that this condition will occur in a future pregnancy they conceive together. However, genetic testing for this condition is not possible until approximately eleven weeks of pregnancy, well after Florida’s current six-week ban.

This beautiful couple went from not even suspecting they were carriers of a silent genetic condition to learning more than they ever wanted to know about genetics and Florida’s abortion ban. I remember how confused Suzie was when I explained that she could not get an abortion in Florida, despite the fact that the resulting child would suffer and would certainly die young. Why should this couple, or anyone for that matter, have to justify their personal choices to politicians in these situations? Why should they be forced to leave the state for safe medical care?

Runaway government policies that meddle in our personal lives threaten the very preservation of freedom. Politicians should not be involved in medical decisions. That’s why doctors like me support Amendment 4 to prevent government interference in abortion. By passing Amendment 4 in November, we can eliminate dangerous regulations and abortion bans in Florida and ensure that personal medical decisions are up to Floridians and their doctors – not politicians.

Dr. Rachel Humphrey is a maternal-fetal physician who has been practicing in Orlando since 2004.

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