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Foreground, from left, Georgena Desrosier, Miriam Barras and Lurline Gebhart, all from Baton Rouge, sing with hundreds of others gathered at Galvez Plaza Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019 for a program held after the Louisiana Life March South, which began near the State Capitol gardens and finished with a program at the plaza just off North Boulevard. The event was held 46 years after the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that established a woman's legal right to an abortion. The march was sponsored by Louisiana Right to Life, Louisiana Baptist Convention, Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, United Pentecostal Church of Louisiana, Louisiana Family Forum, the Knights of Columbus, Baton Rouge Right to Life, Caring to Love Ministries, and Louisiana’s Concerned Women for America.

I feel it is time for a nurse to respond to Vanessa Shields-Haas, a member of Radical Nurses Collective, in her recent letter on abortion access in Louisiana. Shields-Haas takes issue with the Louisiana legislation requiring physicians performing abortions to have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of abortion clinics. I have been a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) for over 50 years practicing in Louisiana, Connecticut, Texas and New York. The proposed legislation makes sense to me.

A surgeon practicing in office practice needs hospital admitting privileges in order to do face-lifts, tonsillectomies, extensive liposuction procedures or any other surgical procedures in the office. Abortions are surgical procedures. This bill makes the safety of the woman a priority. Shields-Haas states that nationwide research indicates that abortions in the first trimester necessitating hospital admission is 0.05 percent. Nationwide abortion statistics for the U.S. estimate that 882,000 abortions are performed annually in the U.S. Eighty-nine percent of these abortions are reportedly in the first trimester. That would be approximately 3,925 women of 784,980 women nationwide undergoing abortions at risk for complications necessitating a hospital admission. As a CRNA administering anesthesia I have personally managed women over my career with complications from elective abortions — ruptured uterus, retained products of pregnancy causing severe life-threatening hemorrhage, sepsis, atonic uterus. This is a simple procedure until it is not.

Shields-Haas finishes her letter with: “We want universal access to contraception, medically accurate and comprehensive sexual education in our schools ... parity in pay with men and access to maternity leave ..." I could wholeheartedly endorse this agenda if Shields-Haas did not attempt to misrepresent the risks of abortion to women; not even addressing the rights of an unborn child.

Patricia Woodson Newman 

certified registered nurse anesthetist