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Ob-Gyn Details Why Mich. Bill Banning Abortion Procedure Would Endanger Women's Health

December 14, 2015 — Katherine Starr, an ob-gyn and advocacy chair of the Michigan Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, writes in a Detroit News opinion piece that as a provider of "safe, high-quality and compassionate [health] care," including abortion care, she is "alarmed and infuriated by HB 4833/4834, which would ban the safest form of abortion [she] can provide for some of the most ill women under [her] care."

She writes, "Michigan lawmakers with no training or expertise in the practice of medicine have introduced this dangerous legislation that would ban" a particular type of procedure. Starr explains that "abortion is one of the safest medical procedures we have," adding that the procedure targeted by the proposed measures "is a straightforward procedure ... particularly for women with pregnancy complications." She notes, "The alternative is inducing labor, which can be painful, inordinately expensive, physically demanding on the patient, and involves serious risks of bleeding and infection."

Starr writes that she could share "innumerable" stories of the women she has treated by using the targeted procedure, including "[a] patient with a molar pregnancy in the second trimester; patients with heart failure, kidney failure, uterine or blood infections; and patients with disorders that could lead to hemorrhage in labor." According to Starr, "All these women needed safe and timely treatment to improve their health, and this is the role that [the abortion procedure] serves -- and that I serve as an abortion provider."

Starr cites research showing that "the maternal mortality ratio in the U.S. increased 136 percent between 1990 and 2013," noting, "This is an alarming rate, and we must do better." She writes that while she "applaud[s] any and all momentum in the direction of improving women's health," measures such as "HB 4833/4834 d[o] nothing to that effect, and in fact endange[r] it."

According to Starr, "This year, we have already seen too many baseless and ideologically motivated attacks on comprehensive reproductive health care." She concludes, "I am a women's health expert. I know how to take care of women facing the complex physical and emotional challenges of ending a pregnancy in the second trimester. And I know that HB 4833/4834 will make Michigan an unsafe place for women" (Starr, Detroit News, 12/9).