Abortion is Healthcare with Dr. Heather Irobunda | Crooked Media
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May 17, 2022
America Dissected
Abortion is Healthcare with Dr. Heather Irobunda

In This Episode

Anti-abortion activists always try to depersonalize abortion, as if its some abstract issue that doesn’t involve real people. With the impending fall of Roe v. Wade, Abdul re-personalizes it. He speaks with obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Heather Irobunda about what the fall of Roe would mean for millions of people and how it would affect her practice.

 

 

 

Transcript

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: United States hit a grim milestone with more than a million deaths from COVID-19. Funding to continue the fight against this pandemic looks increasingly in doubt, as Congress seems uninterested in funding the White House’s roadmap to living with the virus. A global hepatitis outbreak is infecting young children across 12 countries and the United States. The first hearing on Medicare for All was held in the Senate last week, and your host got to share some testimony. This is America Dissected. I’m your host, Doctor Abdul El-Sayed. It both feels like just yesterday and a year ago that Politico published a leaked Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Over the past few weeks, we’ve gotten a taste of what it might mean for reproductive rights in this country. Remember, Roe v. Wade was the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that, in effect, made banning abortion before fetal viability unconstitutional, a violation of the right to privacy. The Supreme Court upheld that ruling in another case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Under the tradition of stari decisis, which gives wide berth to previous decisions made by the court, overturning previous decisions by the court was presumed to be a uniquely challenging thing to do. But court watchers have been tracking the effort to overturn Roe from a mile away. As public opinion has shifted against totalitarian, minoritarian extremism, the evangelical right has focused its attention almost entirely on capturing the court and using it to govern against the will of the majority. It starts with the Federalist Society, a Koch-funded ultra conservative law student society designed to cherry pick conservative law students and groom them for court appointments. Remember a few episodes back when we talked about the disastrous decision by a Central Florida District judge that didn’t just overturn the transit mask mandate, but took a swipe at all of public health law? That judge was a Federalist Society member. Then there’s Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decimation of precedent, robbing President Obama of his constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court justice in 2015. That opened the door to Donald Trump’s not one, not two, but three Supreme Court nominees, fundamentally altering the balance of the court. And then there’s this case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. The case is no coincidence. It was an ally-oop pass to a Supreme Court that was manufactured to do just this, and they weren’t going to miss the opportunity. Justice Sonia Sotomayor told us as much. Here’s what she said when oral arguments of the case were being heard last year.

 

[clip of Justice Sotomayor] Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: In the aftermath of the leaked opinion, we’ve seen just how far the minoritarian right is willing to go. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves implied that he wouldn’t be averse to banning contraception–contraception!–should Roe fall. It’s a testament to how little knowledge people like him have about these issues. When people like him talk about contraception, they usually mean oral contraceptive pills, but the pills, hormones designed to regulate the ovulation cycle, are used to treat all kinds of ailments from ovarian cysts to really bad acne that mark a face with scars for life. Banning contraception would have reverberating effects. All for what? So that you can force women into bearing the consequences of your puritanical beliefs. But this could indeed happen. Justice Alito’s opinion, just like his colleagues on the District Court in Florida, is written so broadly that it doesn’t only take on Roe, but the right to privacy that Roe is based in. That also happens to be the same basis for the right to contraception or same sex or interracial marriage. This isn’t a brave new world. It’s a cowardly old one, where the beliefs of the few trump the rights of the many. For their part, Democrats held a symbolic vote to codify the right to an abortion, and Senator Manchin’s feckless, self-serving brand of politics was on full display. He voted against codifying a woman’s right to choose. For context, though ostensibly a Democrat, Manchin has used the entire Biden presidency to tear the Democratic agenda to shreds, opposing everything from paid family leave to climate action to universal child care, to the child tax credit which halved childhood poverty, though he serves America’s poorest state. For his loyal service to the Republican cause, he enjoys a 69% approval rating in a state Trump won in 2020 by 40 points. He’s so popular among Republicans, he’s even taken to endorsing Republican candidates in Republican primaries. Last week, I talked about what the fall of Roe could mean for reproductive health care. I talked about gas gangrene of the uterus, about how once all-but-forgotten, devastating byproduct of unsafe abortions would inevitably come roaring back as safe legal abortions become a thing of the past. I talked about how the consequences would fall hardest on Black and brown women, on rural and poor women. And I talked about how all of this falls so far behind any semblance of believing in, quote unquote “life.” It’s like these folks only care about life before it’s actually born. And afterwards, they wouldn’t dare invest in expanding a child’s access to high quality childcare or pre-K, their mothers leave to care for that child, or their health care through expanded Medicaid or, dare I say, Medicare for All. Today, I wanted to talk to someone who’s been thinking a lot about reproductive health care, an obstetrician-gynecologist whose work is all about it. Dr. Heather Irobunda is an OB-GYN delivering services in New York City. She joined me to talk about the consequences for women’s health and reproductive justice should Roe fall, and what it means to try to practice without oral contraception. Here’s Dr. Heather Irobunda.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: All right, I’m recording on my end. All right. Can you introduce yourself for the tape?

 

Dr. Heather Irobunda: Okay. I’m Dr. Heather Irobunda. I am an OB-GYN physician here in New York City.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: I really appreciate you taking the time to join us today. What we wanted to do is step in, zoom in into the health care consequences should Roe fall. What does abortion mean as health care? What are the consequences when people can’t get abortions? And what are the implications for their health and their well-being? Just to get a sense of the scope, how many people get abortions every year?

 

Dr. Heather Irobunda: So every year, over 800,000 people get abortions every year here in the United States. So that’s a lot of people. I mean, some years it can go up to almost a million. So it’s like anywhere between 800,000 to 1,000,000 people get an abortion every year and one in four women have had an abortion by the age of 45.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: Wow. So you’re talking about, you know, about a million people every single year whose rights to access this particular kind of health care could potentially go away. Obviously, there’s going to be implications depending upon what state people live in, but this is something that one in four women in this country avail themselves of.

 

Dr. Heather Irobunda: Right.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: Can you give us a sense of who gets an abortion? Who is the median person who will seek abortion care?

 

Dr. Heather Irobunda: So about half of the people who get abortions are within their twenties, but 60% of those who seek abortion care have other children. So it’s not usually who you think it is going to be sometimes–well, or how certain stereotypes portray those who seek abortions. A lot of the people who seek abortions have other children. So that’s something to think of. Additionally, in terms of income status, about 75% of those who seek abortion are considered poor or in poverty or low income. So that’s like a lot of the people who seek abortion. So I think that’s really, really interesting numbers to look at because it also tells you about access to care in some cases, to other care like contraception.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: And what are the circumstances in which they are seeking care? Why do people who get abortions get abortions?

 

Dr. Heather Irobunda: Okay. So it’s for a variety of reasons. So there are people who seek abortions because of unfortunate situations like rape or incest, or even medical conditions that would make pregnancy harmful to them. But there are also people who, in terms of family planning, may not have had access to contraception or something happened where the contraception failed, and so they’re seeking it in terms of, you know, they have a lot of other things that may be happening in their lives and they’re not prepared to have a baby.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: And does banning abortion actually prevent people from getting abortions?

 

Dr. Heather Irobunda: Banning abortions definitely doesn’t prevent people from getting abortions, as evidenced by other countries where abortion is illegal and people still seek that care out. And prior to Roe v Wade, people were seeking abortion care out as well. And there was, you know, there were a lot of them. And even in places in the U.S. where it’s kind of hard to get abortions, some states have a lot of very restrictive legislature that makes it hard for some people to get abortions, they still seek that care out. So even if you ban it, people will get them.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: And this is, you know, I want to, I want to just stop at this point because I think there’s this notion that the law is the way to exercise a particular, you know, unfortunate choice that a small minority of people in this country seem to want to exert on everyone else. And their idea is the obvious, is that if you were to make abortion illegal, then obviously, obviously, people are going to obey that law, even though we understand that the circumstances in which someone gets an abortion tend to be really dire circumstances and so what you’re forcing people to do is to live between this rock and now this newfound hard place of the law, and the reality of it is that all you’re doing is making the circumstances in which they will seek an abortion that much more dire. And my understanding that correctly?

 

Dr. Heather Irobunda: You are. It’s exactly the case. It’s just the legality of it is not–or whether it’s not legal or illegal, whatever the case may be, it’s not stopping people from seeking this out. So people can make the rules, and, you know, like in the government and the citizens will do as they please in terms of this and, which can make it unsafe.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: And that is exactly it, right? So instead of being able to get a safe, affordable legal abortion, it now forces people into circumstances where they’re getting unsafe abortions. Can you tell us what the options are for people who are forced in this position?

 

Dr. Heather Irobunda: So those who are forced into the position of trying to seek abortion care when it’s illegal tend to go to the black market. So there are black markets for a lot of things. And so in terms of abortion, they may be seeking out medications or pills for it, which they may not know what the contents of those pills are or what the side effects are or how much to take or anything like that. They’re just given it and told to use it. In terms of procedural things that can be done unsafely or on the black market, they’re, on the Internet people will find different machines or things that are touted as being able to complete the procedure and then now you have people who are not trained to do so, performing procedures on parts of the body that they may not know anatomy for, may not know how to manage complications, or, you know–it just opens a big door to people doing medical procedures that they don’t understand how or why they’re doing them.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, narrating: We’ll be back with more with Dr. Irobunda after this break.

 

[ad break]

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: You know, I remember when I was in med school, you know, there are always those images that stick with you. And one of the ones that stuck with me was an image of gas gangrene of the uterus, which, of course, is a complication that was extremely rare after 1973, when Roe v Wade made abortion safe and legal. What are some of the health consequences that you know, you will see as a practicing obstetrician/gynecologist? What are some of the health consequences that’ll happen if Roe falls and women are forced to seek these alternative, less-safe options?

 

Dr. Heather Irobunda: So we’ll definitely see a lot more infections because when, two reasons. One is if people are trying to perform a surgical procedure on themselves in a [unclear] fashion, they may introduce bacteria into the uterus and that can cause infections. And the uterus actually gets a decent amount of blood supply, especially a pregnant uterus and so it can become a systemic or serious infection more quickly. Additionally, you may see things–that can lead to death because if that’s left untreated or it rapidly progresses, that can happen. Additionally, we may see more hemorrhage as in like large amounts of bleeding because abortions can, there is blood that is lost when you have an abortion or a pregnancy loss or anything like that, and if an abortion is done in an unsafe manner, you have a higher likelihood of hemorrhage or not being able to manage the blood loss. Additionally, you can see things like scarring of the uterus because that’s it, you know, because people again may be using different things to try to remove the contents of the uterus, and so that can cause scarring to the uterus. People may lose their uterus because of this, because it may get irreparably damaged. Additionally, because the uterus is something that can be punctured, you may have it punctured and that can injure other organs, too. So we’re likely to see all of those things as a result of banning abortion, people using unsafe means.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: You practice in New York City, and it’s unlikely that there are going to be specific bans that affect people in the community in which you live. And yet, at the same time, you can imagine a situation where people who have the means will try to come to a place like New York City to get their abortion. What does that mean in terms of, you know, abortion access, even in communities that don’t ban it?

 

Dr. Heather Irobunda: It will make it more difficult for everyone because up here we do have access and we do have providers, but there’s a finite amount of resources. So we still offer them, you know, some places, certain days, or even thing to do them every day of the week, there’s a certain, there’s only a finite amount of time. It’s going to affect access to care even in places where it’s legal, because people may have to wait longer, there, we can only do, lets say, ten in a day or [unclear] in a day, and if 20 people show up now, it’s going to be an issue. So it’s going to affect everybody.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: And yet, you know, we’re looking at this in 26 states, the majority of U.S. states, should Roe fall. It’s likely that either a ban that’s currently on the books or a ban that will soon be on the books will take effect. What are the, what is the nature of these bans, and what are going to be the consequences in terms of the work that obstetrician/gynecologists in those communities are going to see.

 

Dr. Heather Irobunda: So many of the bans really take the shape of trying to limit how far along someone is when they access the care. So they want it the earlier the better, sometimes when people don’t even know they’re pregnant, so like six weeks, right, or heartbeat, some of these heartbeat rules. Where it’s like most people who come into the hospital or into their medical providers’ office saying, Oh, I missed my period, I think I may be pregnant–a lot of times they’re past six weeks. And so this really will drastically limit the amount of people who will be eligible to get that type of care, abortion care. Additionally, there are limits on, okay, you come in for a set day to say I’m, you know, I think I may be pregnant, I don’t want to continue this pregnancy. They may make you wait a certain amount of time because they say that you need to consider your options and think about your decision. There may be things that we have to do as OB-GYN providers provide certain information. So, for example, they may tell us that in order to provide an abortion in some states, we have to tell patients, okay, this may cause irreparable damage to your mental health, which is actually not evidence-based or true, but we are required by law to state that in certain states and it’ll be more states as these bans get enforced. So it may not be completely say no abortion, period, but it may be more so that it’s very vary hard to take one and the vast majority of people will not fall into that category of people who can get abortions.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: I really appreciate you making that point. It’s such an important one. You know, obviously, I’ve never been pregnant and my only real experience with pregnancy up close and personal was with my spouse, Sara, and this was a pregnancy we both wanted that we were very excited about, but it took work, and we get this notion that somehow pregnancy is this passive process when really it’s an extremely active process, and when someone is forced to carry a pregnancy to term without the means or the circumstances, as they’ve judged for themselves, to be able to do that without the will to do that, it can exacerbate what is already a pandemic of maternal mortality, particularly among Black Americans, for whom the probability of maternal mortality is already 3 to 4 times as high as it is for white mothers. And that’s just it, right? It’s not even like we invest in that child after they’re born, right? It’s not even like these folks who ostensibly get away calling themselves pro-life are interested in a life after birth. It’s like they think life starts at conception, but ends at childbirth. These are the same folks who have been dead-set against expanding the child tax credit to end childhood poverty or to invest in Medicaid to give more children access to better health care, or to invest in paid family leave to support a mother after she gives childbirth. No, you are forced to give birth, but then you are completely undefended, unprotected and disinvested in after that birth happened, or even through the pregnancy. You think about a program like WIC, women, infants and children–it’s a critical program, but there’s been no push by the same people who are trying to ban abortions to invest in it. And so we’re completely in this position where this idea of life has been so bastardized by the folks who are trying to take away a woman’s right to choose. And then there’s the point that the best single way to prevent an abortion is to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. So I want to ask you, what does all of this suggest about where these folks are headed, what may be coming next?

 

Dr. Heather Irobunda: It’s very concerning that they may be going towards contraception next because just like what you said, the number one best way to prevent an unwanted pregnancy is contraception. And so it really makes me curious what the end goal with some of this is, because I think it feels like they just want to be able to control our bodies and the way in which we, you know, like have our babies or the population or something, because it’s really interesting that they additionally, they don’t want us to have contraception. And it’s going to make it really hard for OB-GYNs to provide the care that we give to our patients because it’s very private. It’s very personal. Our offices are a sanctuary in essence. It’s a private place for our patients to ask us questions and to request care that they may need for whatever the reason is. And so it’s really going to make some of our jobs a lot harder, because also, too, there are people with medical conditions where it’s really not wise for them to either get pregnant or to go through with labor or something like that, and so if they’re trying to take the responsible role of not getting pregnant in the first place, limiting their contraceptive options will really make it hard for us.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: Hmm. Yeah. I really appreciate you making that point. One of the things that that anti-abortion activists love to bring up is this idea of a late-term abortion. And they use this as if to say that, you know, folks who believe in the right to choose are so crude that they believe that you should be able to abort a fetus, even in its late stages once it’s fully formed. The problem that they seem to miss is the fact that late-term abortions almost always happen because of some health-related risk to infant or child, right? That the carrying this to term could be disastrous for one of the two. And these are, you know, really tragic circumstances. Oftentimes, a parents in preparation will have, you know, bought a crib and picked out a name, only to learn that what was supposed to be this extremely happy moment will not actually be. Why do you think that we keep missing that point in discussions about abortion?

 

Dr. Heather Irobunda: I think it’s sensationalism. I think that it helps the narrative of saying where, you know, these people, they’re killing a person when they come up with these crude examples, when oftentimes, as you mentioned, people who are having later-term abortions tend to have wanted to have their baby, they planned everything, and there’s, a it’s usually due to a lethal anomaly or issue with either the baby or there could be something that develops in the mother’s like medical history where they can’t continue the pregnancy and that’s the reason why they’re doing it. It’s mostly for those situations. So that’s why I think it’s interesting that it’s always brought up. And I think it causes sensationalism. It’s a story. It’s a way that they can pull at people’s heartstrings, but it’s just not true.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: The other piece of this is that folks often love to take that same point of sensationalism that you mentioned that I think is a really important one, and assume as if people are just getting abortions without thinking through the consequences. And I, you know, when I was in medical school, I had the opportunity to sit with a young woman who was making a decision about whether or not to abort, and I just really admired the the way that she had thought through all of the circumstances and consequences in making that decision. You know, someone who performs this type of health care, who has sat with many people in the same circumstance, what do you wish people understood about the nature of this decision?

 

Dr. Heather Irobunda: It’s a tough decision that the patients that I see making this decision are doing. Like, I don’t see people coming into my office or any office of anyone who is getting an abortion just flippantly doing this. It’s well-thought, a lot of times there’s a lot of tears. There’s a lot of, there’s a lot of thought behind it. And it’s usually because of situations that are very much out of that person’s control for the most part. Like it’s, you know, somebody who was sexually assaulted or someone who dreamed and hoped for a baby, planned for this baby, and they found out that the heart of this baby, like, is not really functional and the baby either will not make it to full term or if born, will not be able to survive. Like, these people are going through one of the hardest moments of their lives. And we bear witness to that every day. And so I think it’s kind of a slap in those people’s faces to say that they’re just flippantly doing this because they’re, like the vast majority of people I see it’s a very well-thought out decision and it’s a hard one.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, narrating: We’ll be back with more with Dr. Irobunda  after this break.

 

[ad break]

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: I really appreciate you sharing that because I think that’s exactly it, is that it is such a complex decision, it is such a hard decision to have to make. And the idea that somehow the state, the government can make that decision for you is, is an obscenity. And the other point here is that, you know, let’s be clear about what this is. This is a reading of a very particular faith-based interpretation into the law that is supposed to govern all of us, a secular, pluralistic society. And, you know, not even every faith thinks about the idea of conception in the same way. But the implications of this, right, are that all of us now are forced to submit to a single religious interpretation of the idea of when life begins, and what is justified in terms of protecting that fetus. And I worry, right, because we see where they’re going. We talked about contraception already, but even beyond that, right, so much of of what this could mean really violates the idea that you get to own your own body and your own personal choices. You know, you could imagine the same circumstances leading to the end of protection of same-sex marriage or interracial marriage, and the the implications here are really quite big and quite profound. You’re going to be, you know, in this potentially post-Roe world, providing care to people whose rights are going to have been taken away with the potential that others may fall as well. How does that change the way you think about the physician-patient relationship and the role that you play as, not just a care provider, but also as a coach and as an expert and as a trusted partner in health care decisions?

 

Dr. Heather Irobunda: For me, I’m just concerned that my patients will not be as open as they have been with me in the past, because, as you said, we’re these trusted individuals in their lives or we hope to be, right? So we take time to develop these relationships and build trust with that whatever they tell us will be within the sanctity of that room. However, with this post-Roe world that we’re looking at, I am not sure if my patients will be scared about certain things that they tell me, whether I will then tell the authorities or someone who can get them in trouble for decisions that they may want to make about their own bodies and their health care. So I think that those of us, especially people who practice gynecology in other states where they will likely have the ban, are probably worried about too, like how much do they want their patients to disclose to them after these bans go in place. Are their patients going to be forthright with? Are their patients going to feel okay letting them know if they went and got an abortion in another state or through means outside of a hospital so that we can help care for them? I think it’s going to set up this situation where we’re not as close as we need to be with some of our patients. Additionally, I know for me I always talk about contraception and try to see if patients would like some or talk about family planning but I think a lot of us are going to be way more heavily focused on that because we want to make sure that if someone does not want to become pregnant, that they have every option available to them prior to maybe needing an abortion, because we don’t know if that’s going to be something that they’re able to obtain. So I think it will change the dynamic of that relationship with our patients, unfortunately.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: Hmm. And as this potential reality has come into into sharp relief, how have your conversations with your patients already changed?

 

Dr. Heather Irobunda: So I think even in New York City, where I thought it was common knowledge that we’re probably not going to experience any bans or anything of the sort in terms of abortion care, I still have patients coming in who are like, Oh, get me on the birth control now because who knows what’s happening in this country, and I don’t want to have to deal with the drama. And I think that’s sad that’s how it’s being interpreted. Like, people are scared. My patients are scared where they’re like, just, I want to be on the most effective form of birth control because I don’t know if they’re going to take this away from me, you know? And this is not how it should be. I remember prior to the limitations that were made in Texas, for example, a few months ago, I have some friends who are OB-GYNs down there who do provide that care who up until 11:59 the night before had lines of people trying to take, you know, trying to take advantage of that care before it was taken away. So we’re seeing this stuff. It’s real.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: What, if anything? In this moment, a very dark moment, gives you hope?

 

Dr. Heather Irobunda: Well, what gives me hope is that I do see a lot of people getting interested and fired up about this and so I’m hoping that that activism really translates into making meaningful change in some way to make sure that we can continue to have the best health care available to people in this country. But another thing, too, is mutual aid. So I have been really impressed with seeing how people have been organizing to pay for trips for people to utilize this care from places that have more restrictive rules to other places, which I think is amazing. Also making sure that telehealth is available throughout all 50 states, which it is right now. I think people are really pushing to make sure that people are aware of that. And also providing funds and access. Even though it’s hard, I’ve seen a lot of people taking matters into their own hands and trying to see and trying to buy money or providing their home as a haven for people who are coming from a different state to get this care. They’re providing that. And I think that’s really meaningful and actually shows the power of the community.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: I really appreciate that, and I think that’s a good note to end on. Our guest today was Dr. Heather Irobunda. She is an obstetrician-gynecologist practicing in New York City. Really appreciate you joining us to share a much more intimate view of what this will mean for millions of people around our country. Thank you again.

 

Dr. Heather Irobunda: Yes, thank you for having me.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, narrating: As usual, here’s what I’m watching right now. More than a million Americans have died of COVID-19. I almost can’t believe that I just said that. To offer you some context, here’s Dr. Fauci talking about estimates of the total number of deaths to COVID early in the pandemic.

 

[clip of Dr. Fauci] Looking at what we’re seeing now, you know, I would say between 100 and 200,000 cases– excuse me, deaths. I mean, we’re going to have millions of cases.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: Remember when he made those estimates, he was roundly mocked by Donald Trump and his base. We’ve watched 5 to 6 times as many people die since. But numbers are just, they have a way of sterilizing the depths of the loss. Every one of those people had a name. They had a mother and a father. They had a life that they lived. They were delighted by things, and they cried. And every one of those people leaves behind dozens of other people who loved them, who were loved by them. They leave holes in their hearts and they are crying still. What kills me about this is that the same people who are crusading to steal the rights of women over their own bodies in the name of quote unquote “life”, have been denying the lives of these million people who were actually born and now died of a disease they’ve all but declared political war over because it was offensive to one man’s ego. They want us to move on. But there are a million people who can’t move on because they’re dead, and there are millions more who will never be able to forget them. It is the height of hypocrisy. Meanwhile, those same congressional Republicans have all but blocked the hope that we might yet have the funds to protect yet more people from dying of the same disease. Make no mistake, COVID is not over. Cases and hospitalizations are rising now, and every indication is that they will rise faster in the fall. And yet, failing to pass this funding means that we’ll be without the vaccines, the treatments, or the testing to respond.

 

A strange outbreak of hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver, is infecting children across 12 countries, though it’s not quite clear what it is, scientists are rushing to identify the cause.

 

Finally, Senator Bernie Sanders, Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, called the first-ever hearing on Medicare for All in the Senate last week. I was honored to be invited to testify alongside leading experts such as Dr. Adam Gaffney and National Nurses United President Bonnie Castillo. I’ll leave you with just a bit of what I shared with the committee:.

 

[clip of Dr. El-Sayed] Today I teach at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy. There I find myself explaining the haphazard dysfunction of our current health care system to some of the brightest young minds in the country. What’s a deductible? Well, it’s like having to pay an extra 19.99 to watch a movie on Netflix that you thought you already paid for, only this time it’s for your basic health care needs and it’s thousands of dollars. They remind me how much nonsense we accept as normal in our health care.

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, narrating: That’s it for today. On your way out, if you can please rate and review the show. I know  I ask you to do this every week, and if you haven’t already, could you do me that kindness? Thank you. Also, if you love the show, you can always rep us by going the Crooked store and checking out our America Dissected merch. We’ve got logo mugs, and t-shirts, Science Always Wins t-shirts, sweatshirts, and dad caps, and Safe and Effective tees, which are on sale for $10 off while supplies last. Also, if you want to do your part to support abortion access in this country, go to Votesaveamerica dot com/roe.

 

America Dissected is a product of Crooked Media. Our producer is Austin Fisher. Our associate producer is Olivia Martinez. Veronica Simonetti mixes and masters the show. Production support from Tara Terpstra and Ari Schwartz. Our theme song is by Taka Yasuzawa and Alex Sugiura. Our executive producers are Sarah Geismer, Sandy Girard, Michael Martinez, and me, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, your host. Thanks for listening.