Opinion: Donald Trump’s attacks on abortion rights puts politicians between doctors and their patients

President Joe Biden speaks during an event on the campus of George Mason University in Manassas, Va., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, to campaign for abortion rights, a top issue for Democrats in the upcoming presidential election. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

By Charlotte Urban

April 11, 2024

In this op-ed, UW-Madison Medical Student, Charlotte Urban, discusses Trump’s attack on abortion rights and health care, emphasizing the importance of the upcoming election.

As a medical student living and studying in the La Crosse area, I am proud to be from Wisconsin—and have long looked forward to caring for patients here in my home state. Through the Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine UW-Madison, I’m training to serve patients as an OBGYN in rural communities with the hope of improving access to health care in these underserved areas.

However, when the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in 2022, I—like so many of my classmates—was forced to reckon with the reality that the medical education I sought and the career I aspired to might mean I would have to leave Wisconsin.

It’s unfathomable to me that I might one day face a patient experiencing life-threatening complications with a pregnancy and be legally unable to provide the care they need. But that’s exactly the sort of reality I could face if Donald Trump and his allies have their way.

Trump has bragged about his part in overturning Roe, and according to recent reporting from the New York Times, he’s now pushing for a new 16-week national abortion ban. Closer to home, Republican officials aligned with Trump have done their best to enforce Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion law—threatening to prosecute doctors. The constant interference of politicians like Trump into the personal medical decisions of the patients I’m training to care for has left me to wonder if it’s safe to pursue a career in obstetric and gynecology at all.

I am by no means alone. Even before Roe was overturned, Wisconsin was already facing a shortage of qualified OBGYNs, with one in three Wisconsin counties without any practicing OBGYN at all. Now, thanks to the legal threats created by Trump and his allies, prospective OBGYNs like myself have had to contend with the prospect of going out of state to finish our training—a prospect that adds cost to an already expensive education, and risks driving away talented doctors from a state that desperately needs them.

The consequences of the extreme, far-reaching restrictions on abortion pushed for by Trump and Republicans reach far beyond access to abortion. In Alabama, a recent state supreme court ruling finding that embryos are children, even out of the uterus, has led the University of Alabama at Birmingham to pause in vitro fertilization treatments. Already, we are beginning to hear the gut-wrenching stories of families facing impossible decisions, such as one Alabama woman now forced to leave the state entirely after suffering three miscarriages and investing $20,000 in IVF treatments.

None of this would have been possible without Donald Trump enabling an extreme agenda that puts politicians between doctors and their patients.

This is all in stark contrast to the work that elected leaders like President Biden, Governor Evers and Attorney General Kaul have done to restore access to safe and legal abortion here in Wisconsin and protect reproductive health care nationwide. From going to court to stop enforcement of an abortion law from 1849, to working at the federal level to improve access to contraception, I’m grateful we have steady leadership fighting for doctors and patients.

We are months away from another critical election here in Wisconsin. For myself and so many of my fellow medical students, there’s so much at stake: our ability to pursue the career we feel called to, the health of our future patients, even the availability of life-changing fertility treatments that have made so many families whole. There’s a clear choice this November—with President Biden, we can count on more freedom, not less. With Donald Trump, I fear what another four years of extreme politics would mean for access to the medical care patients depend on.

Related: Biden vows to ‘restore’ nationwide abortion rights in second term

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