For half of you, this may be hard. Imagine you’re a 30-year-old woman.
But you’re not just any woman. Eight years ago, you got your undergraduate degree in biology; it was the recommended major for those pursuing a career in medicine.
After college, you applied, got accepted, and then completed medical school. Four years ago, you got accepted into a 4-year residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
You’re among the nearly 90% of OBGYN specialists beginning professional practice this year who are women. The specialty is dominated by women, obviously.
So, imagine yourself in that position. You’re well-educated; you spent 12 years studying and working in the sciences. You’re on the eve of a professional career that will pay you well. Oh, and you’ve got more going for you; you’re from North Dakota, a place where work ethic and integrity are above average.
Put simply, what you do next is up to you. Your hard work and success earned you the freedom to choose, and the phone is ringing with offers. Congratulations!
Where will you go? How will you decide? And, less obviously, how will abortion laws influence your decision?
In North Dakota, the legislature has spoken. They’ve taken your choices. You’re the doctor. You have the education and training. But the legislature knows better. They’ve put themselves squarely between you and your patient. Minnesota hasn’t. Lots of other places with warmer winters haven’t, either.
You can stop imagining. Because if you’re reading this, you’re in North Dakota, and this is our reality. But instead of being the successful young woman on the eve of her professional career, you’re you. You’re a person living in a place that now has laws that will make that young woman think hard about what environment she wants to practice medicine in.
Are you catching my drift? What happens to women’s health care in North Dakota if fewer and fewer of those young women choose this place? What happens to a place when the care needed to start a family is harder and harder to come by? Who will deliver the next generations of daughters and granddaughters?
Whatever our position on abortion, there’s no denying that Roe v. Wade delivered legal stability and balance among states. That is gone. We now have a patchwork of reproductive health laws from state to state for doctors and patients to navigate. How hard is it to imagine a new doctor choosing the easier place?
Legislative actions have consequences, and I’m worried we’re going to find out about them in the coming years. I hope I’m wrong.