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  • The Post and Courier

With Roe in flux, SC’s 1st District needs a pro-choice congresswoman

I’m a medical doctor. I have spent my professional career working with kids and their families, and I have seen firsthand how families benefit from safe, legal and accessible abortions.

I have held the hands of parents as they received devastating fetal diagnoses during pregnancy and as they learned the child they desperately want will not survive to term. I’ve treated children whose parents struggled to put a roof over their heads and food on the table and could not afford another child. I have cared for a child who had been raped and impregnated by someone she should have been able to trust. In all of these cases, the best choice for these families has been abortion.

Misinformation about abortion swirls in the halls of Congress and state legislatures, especially among Republicans. Many legislators creating abortion laws do not have even a basic understanding of reproductive physiology. They claim that contraceptives such as IUDs and Plan B cause abortions. They claim that abortion-rights supporters want to allow abortion “up to the ninth month.” This does not happen: Babies born in month nine are just … babies. This underscores why we need more medical doctors in all levels of government: If lawmakers do not understand these basic concepts, they are not equipped to legislate effectively on them.

Many of these politicians, including my own opponents, take up these fictitious arguments while proudly claiming that their goal is to “protect life.” However, what Nancy Mace and Katie Arrington conveniently overlook in this farcical crusade are the thousands of South Carolinians whose lives will be harmed as a result. This is not about “protecting life.” It is about controlling women’s bodies, plain and simple.

If this were truly about “protecting life,” they would be doing everything they could to increase contraception access. It’s clear that the way to reduce abortions is to reduce unintended pregnancies. In states that have increased contraception access, unintended pregnancies have plummeted — and so have abortions.

If this were about “protecting life,” they would be ardent champions of expanding Medicaid, preventing gun violence and reducing South Carolina’s sky-high maternal mortality rate. They would spend less time groveling in front of Trump Tower or posing with cardboard cutouts of the former president and more time fighting for policies that ensure Lowcountry children and parents are healthy, safe and successful.

Not only does banning abortion fail to protect life, it also will not stop abortions. Before Roe v. Wade declared abortion a constitutional right, women still received abortions. Because the procedures were unregulated and often unsupervised, they were incredibly dangerous, and the women receiving them were less likely to seek medical care when something went wrong, for fear of being arrested and imprisoned.

The United States has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the Western world, and South Carolina has the ninth-highest maternal mortality rate in the United States. Overturning Roe will only make those numbers worse. It is unconscionable to strip so many people of their bodily autonomy, and it is cruel to do so when the risk of death is so high. Nobody who was actually interested in protecting life would do that.

I would ask Nancy, Katie and others who cheer at the prospect of Roe’s demise: What will happen to the children whose mothers die because they could not access abortion services? Whose responsibility will these children be? How will we take care of them?

While the U.S. Supreme Court could shift course before the formal ruling is released in June, there is a very real chance it won’t — which means the only way to secure reproductive rights for all women in this country is for Congress to codify them into law.

As a member of Congress, I will fight for Lowcountry women. I will fight to ensure that every woman in the First Congressional District can make her own reproductive decisions, without input from politicians who only care about culture wars, Twitter likes and booking their next interview on Fox News. I will fight to ensure the children women choose to bring into the world will be safe in their schools and neighborhoods, have access to high-quality health care and education and are supported by their community and the people representing them in Washington. And unlike either of my potential opponents in the November election, I will vote yes on legislation that protects the autonomy of my fellow women.

I have two young daughters. I never thought I would be fighting for them to have the same rights that my mother had. But that is why I am in this race: to ensure a better future for my daughters and the children of every parent in the district.

Dr. Annie Andrews, a pediatrician at the Medical University of South Carolina, is the Democratic candidate for the 1st Congressional District.

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