Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, nurses and doctors all over the country are taking to social media to show their support for abortion providers in states where the procedure is still legal.
Patients in states where the procedure has been banned must now travel to a state where a woman’s right to an abortion is protected, and many of these obstetricians and reproductive healthcare clinics expect to see an increase in demand for family planning services.
Providers are uploading videos to TikTok to make the case for legalized abortion, while sending their love to doctors and nurses that might be under pressure to perform more procedures than they can handle.
Dr. Pamela Mehta, an orthopedic surgeon in California, started making pro-choice videos as soon as the court announced its decision. She said she wasn’t surprised Roe was overturned, but “it did feel like a sucker punch to the gut in the sense that this made it official that we have literally turned back the clock and our own daughters have less rights than our, you know, their moms and their grandmothers have.”
Even though Mehta doesn’t perform abortions herself, she has skills to support other providers.
“I know how to scrub in, I know how to assist in surgery. I can suture up incisions, I can mop floors, I can bring coffee to my OB-GYN colleagues and I thought, ‘What is there that I can do to help my OB-GYN colleagues’,” she said. “So that’s what made me post that video because I’ve seen a lot of videos of laypeople offering their homes and a safe space to come to and I thought ‘Well, what is the skill that I can give OB-GYNs and patients,’ and that’s the skill set that I can provide.”
I am 15 years and have no effs to give- let me help.
Dr. Betsy Grunch, a Georgia-based neurosurgeon, felt inspired to make her own pro-choice video for TikTok after seeing Mehta’s post online.
“I saw Pam’s video and spoke with her and we wanted to collaborate on a combined video to try to express, you know, our support not only to women but just to our medical community and how we can try to express how we care for them and how we’re there for them and how we can support women’s health and, you know, just represent our belief that we all need to be supportive during this time,” Grunch said.
Several nurses have joined the trend as well, including Hayley Wombles, a travel nurse in Illinois, Lauren, a certified registered nurse anesthesiologist in Alabama, and Jess, a former bedside nurse currently working in clinical research in Ohio.
Many providers participating in the trend live in states where abortion is now illegal. They are offering to lend their time and expertise to abortion providers that need the help, but it’s not clear if they will face legal risk in their home states.
For example, a provider might help a patient access an abortion in a state where it is legal and still be sued in another state where it has been banned.
Connecticut state Rep. Matt Blumenthal recently introduced a bill that would set up legal protections for people who provide an abortion or receive support to obtain the procedure in the state and are then sued in another state.
“It would depend on the circumstances, but it’s certainly conceivable,” he said, as to whether providers could face legal trouble in their home states.
“While it’s clear that states have power to impose liability on conduct that occurs outside their borders, it’s not clear how far that power stretches and all the circumstances that determine whether it has that power in a particular case,” he said.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has yet to comment on any of the videos currently making the rounds on social media, but it does support increasing the number of providers that can perform the procedure.
“People are already having to leave their communities to access care, because access is already limited for many people, and we expect that this is going to get worse,” said Dr. Nisha Verma, a fellow with ACOG.
“Overturning Roe will even more heavily restrict abortion for people across the country, especially our most marginalized populations, so it will be critical that we expand the group of clinicians who provide safe and effective abortion care. Allowing advanced practice clinicians to provide abortion care will allow us to meet more patient needs safely and effectively with high patient satisfaction rates.”
Wombles said she was eager to show other abortion providers that she has their back.
“I follow a lot of medical professionals on TikTok and it was inspiring to me to see so many of them being like, ‘Hey, we know that various states that are still allowing medical abortions, they’re going to be flooded,” said Wombles.
Lauren recently made a video where she says she is willing to travel and learn whatever she needs to learn to help abortion clinics in need.
“I posted that video because there’s going to be an overwhelming demand in states that still offer the procedures and they’re going to need help, they’re going to need anesthesia, they’re going to need surgeons, they’re going to need ancillary staff,” said Lauren, who didn’t reveal her last name for privacy reasons. “It’s going to be overwhelming.”
“I wanted to remind them that health care providers, we’re not here to ask or to judge. We are here to advocate for our patients and to take care of them for whatever they need. And I want them to know that we, as medical professionals, will be there and we will pick up the slack and do whatever we can to make sure they still have access,” Lauren said.