Jake Ermolovich: Why I support Vermont’s Reproductive Liberty Amendment

This commentary is by Jake Ermolovich, a third-year medical student at UVM's Larner College of Medicine. These views are his, and may not reflect the views of the Larner College or UVM Health Network.

Pregnancy and the birthing process are wondrous, horrible, perfectly fallible parts of our existence. Each of us is pulled into the milieu of this world; our lungs forced open by air unfelt in the womb, our cries carried out from the ether that existed before us. 

All the trauma of being born has been part of our health care system for centuries, yet it has often gone unnoticed by those who don’t face it daily, or those who never learned its intricacies. 

During my rotation in obstetrics and gynecology, I had the privilege of seeing this process up close. From prenatal counseling to intrapartum care to postpartum follow-up — each step of the way is paved by “what could go wrongs” and songs of worry written between waves of flowing joy. 

And since each ebb levies the weight of two lives, the stakes are so much higher in this field of medicine. 

To paint a better picture, resources (user-friendly and comprehensive) are available to guide and inform on each step taken in routine prenatal care. Prior to medical school, I was honestly unaware of all the burdens taken on by child-bearers as they work toward the one monumental moment many have seen only partially in movies and media. One visit followed by another, followed by lab work, pap smears, ultrasounds, medication changes, lifestyle changes, genetic screening, infectious screening, questions leading to answers leading to more questions leading to 37 to 42 weeks of monthly, biweekly, weekly follow-up — all for the chance, if you are lucky, to bring a little you into this world. 

When one understands the risks and challenges associated with pregnancy and birth, it’s not surprising to learn that abortion is safer than childbirth. If a parent is fortunate enough to have access to the health care necessary to carry a pregnancy to term, they still face so much risk. Molar and ectopic pregnancies, eclampsia, accreta, choriocarcinoma, chorioamnionitis, gestational diabetes, placental abruption, uterine rupture — to name a few dangerous complications. 

Yet the freedom to choose — to risk a pregnancy or end one for which you’re not prepared — has been threatened. The leaked Supreme Court draft outlines as much. So, as an aspiring physician, I feel a responsibility to advocate for patient autonomy and fight back against the capricious political backdrop that has seemingly slithered its way between a person and their body. 

If you are like me and value your health and freedom, it is important to support the passage of Vermont’s Reproductive Liberty Amendment. The Reproductive Liberty Amendment  (previously Prop 5) will be a ballot measure in Vermont’s 2022 general election this November. If passed, it would protect every Vermonter’s right to make their own reproductive decisions, like whether and when to become pregnant, use temporary or permanent birth control, or seek abortion care. 

Our reproductive decisions are ours to make, without interference from politicians. That is what the amendment will accomplish. Please join me and take the pledge to vote yes on the Reproductive Liberty Amendment.

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