Opinion | Prohibitions on abortion with exceptions for mental health

To the publisher:

In “Psychiatrists May Decides Abortion Access” (Opinion guest essays, Sunday Review, June 5), Sally Satel believes that mental health exceptions to abortion bans invite both doctors and their pregnant patients to lie. This claim is leading some states to ban abortions outside of cases involving life-threatening “physical” emergencies.

Such swagger ignores the reality that unwanted pregnancies often trigger serious mental health crises. For example, according to El Salvador’s abortion ban, 38 percent of maternal deaths – hundreds each year – are the result of the suicide of pregnant girls under the age of 19. Of course, not every woman forced into pregnancy will attempt suicide, but we shouldn’t doubt the serious mental health impact of being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy.

Mental health exceptions require doctors to address the circumstances surrounding abortions – poverty, the need to care for other children, bad relationships – and to understand how denying access could trigger severe mental exhaustion or suicide. It is the truths of their patients, rather than the lies, that call for these exceptions.

Michelle Oberman
Palo Alto, Calif.
The writer is a professor at the School of Law of the University of Santa Clara.

To the publisher:

I had a so-called “therapeutic” abortion in California in 1969. At the time, as Sally Satel accurately describes, California was one of only three states that allowed such abortions.

But to get the abortion I was interviewed and certified by two psychiatrists that my mental health was in the balance due to an unwanted pregnancy.

So the doctors had to lie; I had to lie. I have carried the blame for lies, not abortion, for over 50 years.

Women shouldn’t be stigmatized or demonized for our decisions. And the medical profession should not be complicit, once again, with illegal, unethical but comprehensive practices.

Nancy Schultz
Vancouver, Washington.

To the publisher:

I am a family nurse and over the years I have had to deal with many mental health management tasks for my patients due to lack of access to psychiatrists. Many psychiatrists do not participate in insurance plans and it is particularly difficult, if not nearly impossible, for my patients with Medicaid to find a psychiatrist.

How will this affect women in Sally Satel’s scenario if psychiatrists are called upon to decide who has access to abortion treatment? Will psychiatrists be available only to women who can pay them?

I fear that this will be another way in which those with the means will be able to access abortion, while those with less means will not.

Abortion is health care. Mental health is health care. Both must be an integral part of our health system with accessibility for all.

Michelle Cochran
Washington

To the publisher:

Re “Trump rejected assistants for losses, denying the reality” (front page, June 14):

As I watched the committee’s January 6 interviews with insiders advising President Trump to accept the 2020 election results, I couldn’t help but reflect on the enormous effect an individual can have on our society.

Just consider what a different country the United States would be today if Trump recognized the accuracy of the vote count, graciously conceded defeat, facilitated a smooth transition to the Biden presidency, and then quietly retreated to Mar-a-Lago.

Oh how I would like to live in that country!

Bruce Harville
Madison, Wis.

To the publisher:

Re “Looking for clues as to why gunfighters are so young” (front page, June 2):

The article on why young men are disproportionately involved in mass shootings offers several plausible reasons, but omits a sticking point: young people in many industrialized countries face social pressures, changes in brain development, and violent content on social media. but mass shootings (including school shootings) are extremely rare outside the United States

Most school shootings involve unprotected guns. The ease with which these and other weapons can be obtained in the United States, in contrast to other countries, creates a perfect storm in which the turbulence and loneliness of emotionally disturbed teenagers often find deadly expression.

Ronald W. Pies
Lexington, Mass.
The writer is a psychiatrist.

To the publisher:

Re “Trumpets, Guitars, Violins and a Little Relief Amid Uvalde’s Tears”, by Rick Rojas (news article, June 5):

As an American Mexican grieving the massacre of 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, I am grateful to Mr. Rojas for his outstanding tribute and homage to lost innocent lives, mariachi musical tradition and its mourning performers, and al generations of Mexican American immigrants and families from across the country have come together – in pain, anger and love – through this tragedy.

Mr. Rojas’s culturally rich, analytically elegant, and emotionally respectful presentation of our music and mariachi songs, and the way they are applied to extremely difficult moments in life, should be read by all Americans, regardless of their race. , ethnicity or cultural tradition.

Unfortunately, the continuing gun violence we are experiencing across the country has become a national crisis affecting all cultural communities.

Alessandro Lugo
Park Forest, Ill.
The writer taught anthropology and Latin studies for three decades at various universities.

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