This morning, several maternal-child health (MCH) nurses and a few children gathered outside West Penn Hospital to address the anticipated impacts of the fall of Roe v. Wade on Pittsburgh patients, families, and healthcare workers.
The MCH nurses say that the Supreme Court has taken away the ability to make “the best healthcare choices” from pregnant people and their families and warn that the consequences of the Supreme Court decision “will be devastating.”
“Abortion is healthcare and this decision limits access to healthcare,” says Jean FitzGibbons, a nurse practitioner working in women’s health at Allegheny Health Network. “Not being able to make choices about pregnancy means people are going to die. Families are going to suffer. Overturning the right to abortion destroys our freedoms, undermines our rights, and gravely endangers all of us.”
The nurses warn of an impending influx of patients from neighboring states without sufficient abortion access, including Ohio and West Virginia.
“Although abortion remains legal in Pennsylvania for now, we know that patients from surrounding states will travel to our hospital to get the care they desperately need,” says Sam Miller, a certified obstetrics RN at West Penn. “Worse, they’ll try to terminate pregnancies on their own, without proper providers, risking their lives. These are our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, and friends. This is a disaster for women’s healthcare outcomes.”
Noting that West Penn Hospital is “already understaffed,“ Jess Jack, a labor and delivery nurse at West Penn says that the Supreme Court ruling “is going to make an impossible job even harder,” which will negatively affect the quality of care for all patients, regardless of their condition.
“This influx of patients will entirely overload a system that is already frequently operating at unsafe nurse-to-patient ratios, which means, ultimately, all of our patients are only able to receive the bare minimum in their care,” Jack says.
Speakers also emphasize that to protect abortion rights in Pennsylvania, voters must elect Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro this fall, the only candidate in the race who has pledged to protect abortion rights.
“As we head into elections in Pennsylvania, it is imperative that we consider politicians who will stand up for our rights,” says FitzGibbons. “Gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro has pledged to protect abortion rights in Pennsylvania. Tragically, our friends and bordering states of Ohio and West Virginia may need to come to our Commonwealth to exercise their rights. It is my hope that through expanded resources and staffing, we will be able to be the neighbors that Mr. Rogers taught us to be."