Sexual Assault Patients and Access to Abortion

Well, the news isn’t great. Alabama has become the latest state to pass a near abortion ban, and it’s time we talk about what this means for our patients in the US, because it’s certainly not something we can ignore.

For now, at least, abortion is still legal in all 50 states, so let’s begin there. But as (predominantly male, non-physician or nurse) legislators chip away at abortion access, the question needs to be asked: how does this change the way we counsel patients about emergency contraception? Should we be ensuring we can offer copper IUDs for women who are concerned that their weight may make Ella or Plan B less effective? Do we need to have far more nuanced conversations with our patients who can become pregnant about EC and subsequent options if pregnancy occurs? Pregnancy tests are expensive, so will we offer follow up testing for pregnancy to ensure that the EC worked, just to make sure any EC failure is caught prior to the 6-week cut-offs (assuming they end up being the threshold)?

Abortion is incredibly personal, but access to abortion should not be. Regardless of the decisions we might make if faced with an unplanned pregnancy, every single patient who has the potential to become pregnant deserves a clinician who will provide full-throated advocacy for their right to not be if that’s what they want. And laws that would punish clinicians for terminating the pregnancies caused by rapists more harshly than the actual rapists is such absurdity it’s hard to even type that sentence. It’s time, as a profession, to have some very real conversations about what it looks like to provide patient-centered care in the face of laws that are anything but.

If you have the means to donate some cash to support organizations doing the work of keeping abortion safe and legal for everyone in the US, consider:

https://yellowhammerfund.org/

https://sistersong.nationbuilder.com/donate

https://abortionfunds.org/

https://prochoice.org/about-naf/support-naf

(or add some of your favorites in the Comments)

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Comments

  1. May 16, 2019 | 10:15 am

    Jaclyn

    If a patient seeks treatment for sexual assault in Illinois they are automatically provided 90 days of free follow-up healthcare, INCLUDING an abortion if that is that the patient needs. We need to ensure throughout the country that follow-up healthcare is a part of the overall medical forensic exam, and not seen as separate or distinct.

  2. May 16, 2019 | 10:34 am

    Hope Miller

    I am completely disgusted with all of this idiocy but I am enraged by the outright ignorance and lies that are being touted by persons who know absolutely nothing about how female bodies and pregnancy works. I have had to tell people who I consider intelligent that – no, a baby will not be “aborted” as they are being born. Seriously, how/why does anyone believe such nonsense? And late term abortion is prohibitively expensive and hard to attain and is never done on a whim. The people who stand to suffer the most from all of this are the poor and women of color because the lawmakers who are pushing this agenda have enough money to take care of things if they need to so it’s not going to effect them or their families in any way. I know I’m preaching to the choir here but this constant barrage of restrictive legislation almost on a daily basis is hard to handle. The last two and a half years has been soul crushing enough! I personally know women who have had abortions who have jumped on this conservative “Christian” bandwagon and I would never betray their confidence but it makes me want to scream when I see them posting ridiculous things on social media that have absolutely no basis in fact. It’s beginning to feel like I’m living in some alternate universe where lie is truth and up is down, wrong is right, etc. And I just realized that this is more of a rant than anything else but I do fear for my patients and not just those who may become pregnant from sexual violence but also those who are UNDOCUMENTED ( human beings are not illegal) and who are not coming forward for help because they are terrified of being sent back to the violence that they were trying to escape. How do people not understand that this makes all of us less safe? It’s not like rapists only rape or commit other crimes on undocumented persons.

    Sometimes I want to give up and just move to Canada…

    And if this is too politically charged for your page I will completely understand if you choose to delete it…

  3. May 16, 2019 | 11:21 am

    Liz Louden

    Dear Hope;
    Please know that you are not alone in both your concern and emotion. I think you have adequately expressed the frustration and shock at what is moving backward at such a rapid pace.
    P.S.: you are welcome in Canada (any time!! {Speaking as a Canadian – and proud to be so!}).
    Liz

  4. May 16, 2019 | 6:33 pm

    Jacqueline Callari Robinson

    Thank you, Jen, for posting and continuing to empower us with information.

  5. May 17, 2019 | 9:18 am

    Jen

    Whew–good morning you glorious commenters 🙂