Reproductive Freedom is on the Ballot in Wisconsin’s April 4 Supreme Court Race. An OB/GYN Explains What That Means for You.

Protesters chant in front of the Wisconsin state Capitol in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s draft ruling overturning Roe v. Wade on May 3, 2022, in Madison, Wis. (Angela Major / WPR)

By Christina Lorey

February 13, 2023

“The lie that infuriates me the most is the ‘abortion up until the time of birth’ trope that conservative radio hosts love because it sounds so terrible. It is terrible, and abortions that happen after viability, when a baby has a reasonable chance of survival outside of the mother, are only offered when either the baby or the mother have a profound, life-threatening medical problem,” Dr. Kristin Lyerly explained.

Right now, Wisconsin is facing a health crisis on multiple fronts.

Students who want to become OB/GYNs are forced to leave the state to finish their training because they’re currently unable to learn basic, standard care for cases of ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. Dr. Kristin Lyerly knows just how difficult this will be for her industry and the future of women’s health.

She has practiced in Green Bay and Minneapolis, as well as rural parts of both Minnesota and Wisconsin. Dr. Lyerly is currently in the process of developing a rural maternity care resource center to ensure that obstetrical service providers have the training and resources they need to keep moms and babies safe.

Today, she’s answering a few of our questions about what’s happened in our state since clinics were banned from providing full health care services.

UpNorthNews Editor Christina Lorey: How has your job changed since Wisconsin’s 1849 Abortion Ban went back into effect?

Dr. Kristin Lyerly: There is a lot more fear and uncertainty related to women’s healthcare now for both patients and providers. Women have become more afraid to ask questions about their reproductive health and doctors are often unsure whether they can offer basic services like contraception and management of miscarriages, which are technically spontaneous abortions. 

What hasn’t changed?

Our desire to ensure that our patients have access to quality, affordable, comprehensive, compassionate health care. It’s just so much harder to deliver now in the post-Dobbs era.

How does Wisconsin’s spring election tie into this?

We all want the freedom to make our own decisions about our own bodies within the context of our own lives, whether we’re talking about a new cancer diagnosis or a complicated pregnancy. The conservative [state Supreme Court] candidates have shown us that they don’t trust women to make these decisions. 

This spring, women will show them that we do know how to make important, life-changing decisions when we choose progressive candidates who understand the legal precedent that opposes governmental involvement in your private health care decisions.

What do you believe is the biggest lie anti-choice activists are currently spreading about abortion?

Their goal is to tie issues like abortion to a political side in order to win votes, so they use hyperbolic language that plays on people’s emotions to divide us. The one that infuriates me the most is the “abortion up until the time of birth” trope that conservative radio hosts love because it sounds so terrible. 

It is terrible because abortions that happen after viability, when a baby has a reasonable chance of survival outside of the mother, are only offered when either the baby or the mother have a profound medical problem that threatens the health, well-being, and future reproductive potential of the mother. 

These are heartbreaking situations where families are already suffering in tragic ways that most of us will never understand. Politicians and activists who retraumatize these people for their own gain should be ashamed.

What is one thing most people don’t know about abortion, but you wish they did? 

Abortion is healthcare. Abortion is part of the spectrum of care that women seek across their lifespan from initiating birth control to managing miscarriages, overcoming infertility, or coping with a complicated pregnancy. Not only is it a fundamental part of health care, but abortion is common– one in four women in the US will have an abortion in her lifetime.

Author

  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.

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