Abortion Is Still a Right: A Message From Our Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Jessica Shepherd

Dr. Jessica Shepherd

Jessica Shepherd MD, MBA, FACOG is a board-certified OB-GYN and the Chief Medical Officer for Verywell Health. She is the founder and CEO of Sanctum Med + Wellness, a wellness concierge practice, and is affiliated with Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.

This week, a leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion posed a major threat to reproductive rights. Americans learned Roe v. Wade, a case that protects a person’s right to an abortion, may soon be overturned.

As a physician, healthcare advocate, and woman, I join the millions of people appalled by this threat. I will continue fighting for my patients and community.

Right now, it’s important to know abortion is still legal in all 50 states. And even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, that does not mean a nationwide ban on abortion. It means abortion rights are left up to the states—many of which already impose restrictions to access, and about half of which are posed to implement bans soon after the Court decision is confirmed.

As an OB-GYN and the chief medical officer of a health website, I want women to know physicians respect your beliefs. We also respect reproductive justice and the right to make your own choices.

The Supreme Court is imposing on a person’s ability to make personal decisions for themselves in a safe environment. The justices behind this opinion are infringing on the very human right to decide to have children or not to have children.

Denying abortion care doesn’t just result in pregnancy. It can lead to physical, psychological, and emotional harm. It can upend the life and finances of a person unprepared to be a parent.

But let’s be honest. Abortion restrictions won’t prevent abortions from happening. It will just make them more difficult to access, and potentially make them unsafe. Inevitably, some people will be forced to travel out of state for abortion care. Others may struggle to get abortion medication in a timely fashion, which can safely be used to end a pregnancy up to 14 weeks of gestation.

We must protect these people. This means donating to organizations that help fund travel for abortions. This means peaceful protests. And for providers, this means continuing to offer access to high-quality, affordable family planning services and contraception.

By Jessica Shepherd, MD
Dr. Shepherd is board-certified in obstetrics-gynecology and is affiliated with Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Shepherd appears regularly as an expert on Good Morning America, The Today Show, and more.