Last spring, Dr. Judy Levison started to give her routine answer when a patient, who was 15 weeks pregnant, asked why she should receive a blood test that picks up certain fetal defects.
Some women simply want to prepare themselves, the longtime Houston obstetrician-gynecologist explained. For others, she said, certain abnormalities may cause them to consider abortion.
“I suddenly get to the word abortion, and it was like ‘Oh, huh, I can’t really offer that in the state of Texas anymore,’” said Levison, noting that Texas already had implemented an abortion ban at six weeks. “And my patients generally didn’t have the means to go traveling to other states… I just realized I was in this quandary, and I couldn’t offer what I thought was right.”
That moment was part of what caused Levison to partially retire last year and join fellow Houston OB-GYN Dr. Damla Karsan in publicly pushing back against the state’s abortion restrictions, at a time when most doctors fear speaking out could jeopardize their livelihoods. The two doctors signed onto a lawsuit brought by five women who say they were denied abortions despite having dangerous or nonviable pregnancies. The plaintiffs are not asking to overturn the law, but rather to clarify when abortions legally can be provided.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, which backed the suit, said it is the first time pregnant women have taken legal action against bans enacted by Texas and at least 12 other states since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.
After working in Houston for more than two decades, Levison and Karsan see the case as a chance to fight for colleagues and patients caught between legal penalties and ethical treatment.
See here and here for some background. The rest of the story is a couple of biographical sketches of Doctors Levison and Karsan, who is a Rice grad for those of you keeping track of that sort of thing. It’s a good read, and it’s very good to know there are people willing to stand up and do their part when the need arises.