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“Can You Be a Pro-Life Nurse?”: 7 Healthcare Providers Share Their Perspective on Abortion

In the wake of state legislators passing some of the country’s strictest abortion laws — including a few that mandate prison time for abortion providers — healthcare professionals’ opinions are taking center stage in a nationwide debate.

On Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill into law that bans abortion at every stage of pregnancy, unless the mother’s life is threatened. The law has no exceptions for rape or incest and makes providing abortions punishable by up to 99 years in prison.

The week before, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a ban on abortion once a heartbeat is detected, which can happen as early as six weeks. The law permits abortion in “medically futile” pregnancies and in cases of rape or incest but only until 20 weeks and if the victim filed a police report.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson made a similar decision this past Friday, signing a law that bans abortion past the eighth week of pregnancy. It also subjects providers to up to 15 years in prison and includes exceptions for medical emergencies but not rape and incest.

Abortion is still legal in these states because the laws haven’t gone into effect yet, and it’s unclear if they ever will. Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood are planning to sue, and the debate could make its way to the Supreme Court once again.

As the U.S. revisits with renewed urgency one of its most divisive issues in modern memory, clinicians are sharing their stances with the nuance that only working in healthcare can provide. Regardless of how you feel about abortion, these essays from medical professionals will inspire and move you.

1. “An abortion is not an execution, Mr. President.”

Addressing President Trump’s false comments last month that third-trimester abortions involve birthing and “executing” babies, a hospice nurse dives into the ethics of abortion, integrating her experience with end-of-life care.

2. “As a practical matter, abortion is a necessary and safe medical procedure fraught with all the complexity of our relationship with sex and procreation.”

This physician begins by recalling his positive experience working with pro-life doctors and nurses before analyzing the scientific and religious motivations for “heartbeat bans.”

3. “Long ago, I resolved never to become angry or criticize people for their views, but I also resolved to be steadfast on the front lines of the battle between killing and caring.”

For an advice column written in the mid-2000s, veteran nurse Nancy Valko answers a student nurse’s question about what challenges she might face entering the medical field with pro-life views.

4. “Not every pregnancy is like mine — that’s why I will fight for birth control and abortion rights.”

On Twitter, this pediatric nurse, who’s currently pregnant, shares why her religious beliefs have encouraged her to support abortion.

5. “I am enraged that Alabama would force me to choose between what is ethical and medically appropriate care and breaking the law.”

Alabama resident Dr. Yashica Robinson discusses why her state’s ban won’t stop her from providing abortions and lists her many fears about the health of local women and children as a result of the law.

6. “If the definition of life is a heartbeat, are they going to make taking a brain-dead patient off life support murder, too?”

This cardio, CT surgery and vascular nurse dove into the parallels between embryos and brain-dead patients in light of the recent heartbeat bans.

7. “You have pro-life, you have pro-choice, and you have me…”

A nurse recalls the moment her nursing school teacher told a story that challenged her strictly pro-life views. As a result, she learned to appreciate the moral complexity of abortion while still putting her nursing responsibilities first. She writes, “At the end of the day, all patients deserve the most excellent care you can provide, and you have to put your own stuff aside.”

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