By Dr. Stephanie Dahl, Physician
I am a doctor in North Dakota, and I love my work. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is helping cancer survivors who are now facing infertility from their lifesaving chemotherapy and radiation treatments achieve their dream of having a family. Some of these patients require in-vitro fertilization to have a baby, but others must rely on donor sperm or donor egg. However, if some of our lawmakers have their way, I will have to turn away cancer survivors and as well as many other couples with infertility.
A series of measures pending before the North Dakota legislature would interfere with the private, personal decisions of families all across North Dakota. These measures aim to ban abortion in all circumstances, and, if enacted, could prohibit IVF, outlaw most donor sperm and donor egg, and threaten access to several forms of contraception. By limiting women's safe reproductive health care options, politicians could put women's lives and health at risk.
As a physician and a concerned citizen, I see this as an ominous step for a state government. Not only are several states attempting to tell women how and when they can end a pregnancy, in North Dakota, lawmakers are telling women how and when they can or can't conceive that pregnancy, too.
But the battle for keeping health care decisions in the hands of patients won't stop at the North Dakota border. The people pushing these measures have their sights on other states, too. That's why we all need to pay attention to the efforts at our state capitols, wherever they may be. If you are in North Dakota, call your Senator today. If you are not in North Dakota, this battle for health care privacy may be coming to your state.
This week, we will see if politicians get the message. The State Senate is expected to vote on these anti-health care measures on Thursday.
Will our state lawmakers listen to the voices of local North Dakota residents and reject measures that interfere with the doctor-patient relationship? Or will they bow to outside extremists who are pushing a radical agenda in states across the country? The answer matters – not only for families in North Dakota but for families all across America.