Yesterday a judge in North Carolina district court made a decision that will limit access to women’s reproductive healthcare for the patients of Duke Health. As trusted healthcare professionals, we recognize that abortion care is a central part of reproductive healthcare and we know that access to safe, evidence-based care saves lives. Laws that limit the provision of care do not make abortions safer, but rather makes care less safe and increases the disparities in care that already exist for patients in NC and in the South. We firmly believe that decision making between a patient and their doctor should happen in the exam room, not in the courtroom or by legislators.
Abortions after 20 weeks account for 1.2% of abortions provided nationally, and based on recent NC data, it accounts for only 0.2% of cases. While care after the 20th week is minimal, the patients who seek care do so for important reasons, including pregnancies diagnosed with severe birth defects, patients with severe and worsening medical illnesses, teenagers, and patients who may have been saving up to afford care. Access to abortion in these situations is life saving and life-altering. Limits after the 20th week will mean that patients will need to travel outside of the state for care and doctors will have to determine who is sick enough to merit care.
We stand by our Duke Health physicians, providers, and staff who deliver safe and necessary women’s reproductive healthcare and who could face legal challenges, threats of criminal prosecution, and countless barriers to do their jobs. They will have our unending support, and we will vigorously defend their ability to deliver safe, effective women’s healthcare within the confines of North Carolina law, and we pledge to fight for reproductive healthcare access for the patients across our state.
Dr. David Attarian, Chief Medical Officer, DHIP
Dr. Matthew Barber, Chair, Department of OBGYN
Dr. Erik Paulson, Chair, DHIP Board of Managers
Dr. John Sampson, President, DHIP
Dr. Erica Taylor, Associate Chief Medical Officer, DHIP Diversity, Equity and Inclusion