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North Carolina physician: Proposed abortion restrictions threaten the practice of medicine


North Carolina physician: Proposed abortion restrictions threaten the practice of medicine

Mar 22, 2023 | 12:00 pm ET
By Avanthi Jayaweera
North Carolina physician: Proposed abortion restrictions threaten the practice of medicine
North Carolina abortion rights advocates march in downtown Raleigh in mid-May. (Photo: Clayton Henkel)

Bills that elevate politics over science, research and training are an attack on the integrity of the medical profession

As a doctor about to finish residency after multiple years of training, I have never been so worried about the future of medical practice. As a family doctor, I routinely provide comprehensive health services, including abortion care. GOP members want to waste time talking about abortion restrictions when the real problem is restricting patients’ access to health care. Our profession today is facing a crisis; not because we don’t have the skills, nor the resources, but because politics has entered the exam room.

Our state lawmakers are working to pass new state laws that would prevent physicians from providing the best and most comprehensive care to North Carolinians.

Our state lawmakers are proposing abortion restrictions that have no basis in clinical medicine. Instead of leaning on the guidance of up-to-date research, clinical guidelines, medical boards and doctors, our state lawmakers are being swayed by politics and are putting patient care at risk. They are pushing health care providers to ignore the best evidence and are asking us to provide substandard care. The next generation of new physicians will not stand for this.

Our state lawmakers are trying to tell training physicians who have spent years studying medicine and the latest research that physicians cannot use our skills here. They are telling us to disregard our patients’ needs and autonomy. They are saying that we can practice good medicine in other states but provide substandard care in North Carolina. In fact, I moved to North Carolina for my residency training because this was the place to practice good medicine for the people who need it. However, if these state lawmakers have it their way, North Carolina would become the place that tells physicians to practice bad medicine.

These proposals are an attack on patients, physicians, and ultimately, they are an attack on the integrity of our profession. Physicians should be able to provide evidence-based care without concern for legal repercussions. Medical students should be able to receive the training they need to provide excellent care. North Carolinians deserve to receive the gold standard treatments without question.

Restrictions on health care are not only bad for medicine, but are pushing strong doctors-in-training away from our state. In fact, medical trainees are already starting to look at other states for residency instead of North Carolina. Our country is already facing a physician shortage, the last thing we need is to push doctors away to other states.

GOP members are trying to make this conversation only about abortion which is not the case. They will start with reproductive care and continue to restrict health care.

The word will get out to students and residents. Let’s protect the future of health care here in North Carolina and keep physicians in our state. We urge our legislators to stand with patients and physicians to ensure that everyone gets the health care they need.

We have dedicated our lives to provide the best care and we will not settle for anything else. Our legislators need to let us do our jobs.

Avanthi Jayaweera, MD is a Family Medicine Resident and a Board Member of the country’s largest independent medical student organization, the American Medical Student Association.