Today I'm Handing My Pen to an OB/GYN

Today I'm Handing My Pen to an OB/GYN

On this Sunday, two days after SCOTUS’ decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, I feel the same way I felt two days after Trump was elected president—unmoored, scared, and deeply ashamed of the country I used to think was a model for the rest of the world.

I heard the news last Friday while in Northern Wisconsin with my partner Morgan Mandigo, a Harvard/Oxford/Johns Hopkins-trained ob/gyn. Dr. Mandigo is a member of the National Abortion Federation, and early in our relationship, she was a guest on the Up North Podcast to talk about her experiences witnessing women die from self-administered abortions and high-risk pregnancies while working in countries where abortions are illegal.

At one point on Friday, Morgan turned to me and said “Kirk, I always thought I was going to have to bail you out of jail because you pissed off the wrong person, but now you might have to bail me out of jail for just doing my job."

Her words hit me hard. My amazingly brilliant girlfriend, who has saved many lives doing what she was trained to do, has just been sidelined in about half of America. She is now unable to save lives and provide needed reproductive healthcare in states run by cynical faux-Christian men who couldn't care less about the life of a fetus, but care heartily about controlling women who are generally smarter than they are.

So on this day after women were just relegated to second-class citizens in a deeply-sick America, I’m going to pass my proverbial pen to Dr. Mandigo, whose words about what happened last Friday are much more informed than mine.

Thanks for reading what she has to say.

(Morgan) June 24, 2022. Yet another date that will no doubt live in infamy--a black stain on American history. But since Friday, another date keeps playing over again in my mind.

On November 5, 2016, after Donald Trump was elected president, I went to the hospital with a spooky feeling that everything was the same and yet completely different. Two days earlier, I had met each of my patients in clinic and had learned their stories. Strong, stoic, and resolute, each woman had made a difficult personal decision to persevere through challenging circumstances. Each woman had overcome barriers to get to the clinic and commit to an abortion – the decision she knew was best for herself and her family.

I felt a little numb in the pre-operative area that morning--still a bit in shock from the news of the election. As I opened one of my patient's charts and began to do paperwork, she unexpectedly interrupted me--not with a question about the procedure, but with a heartfelt thank you. I looked up and caught her eyes and we both began crying and hugged each other. She was a single mom. She worked at Popeyes. She told me she knew she would be able to give her son a better life after today, and she was grateful for that opportunity because she didn’t think others would have this ability in the near future. I feared she was right. After she had her abortion, this scene played out over and over again with my other patients that day.

Fast-forward to today, three right-wing supreme court justice appointments later, my patients’ predictions have come true.

Like many of you, I am still processing my emotions--a complex mix of rage, fear, disappointment, incredulousness, and a sense of betrayal. I'm angry with Amy Coney Barrett. Perhaps if she spent some time on the antepartum unit of Johns Hopkins, she would have a better understanding that this is not just an issue of forced motherhood, which she believes can be solved by adoption. Perhaps she would see first-hand that forced pregnancy can cost women their jobs; leave vulnerable children without the care and attention they need; give women life-long chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension…

…or even cost women their lives.

Perhaps if she was in the room with me when I had to tell a couple who had gone through IVF that their baby would not have a brain…. perhaps then she would no longer feel comfortable suggesting they continue that pregnancy for another five months and hold back tears as strangers congratulate them when they see her growing belly.

I’m angry at Samuel Alito for suggesting that I, as an abortion provider, “have been motivated by a desire to suppress the size of the African American population.” The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among high-income countries and black women disproportionately suffer these unnecessary deaths. Make no mistake, the data is clear: denying women access to safe abortions disproportionately affects minorities who are less likely to be able to access high quality health care during a pregnancy.

Healthcare disparities in this county have just become magnified, and soon there will be a new “border medicine” practiced between red and blue states. For better or for worse, ob-gyns are used to fighting on behalf of women, and we will keep fighting. They can threaten our medical licenses, threaten us with fines, and even threaten to jail us, but we will keep fighting to make sure women in every state can get the healthcare they need.

We are depending on everyone to donate to their local abortion funds (or to the National Network of Abortion Funds) that are able to provide support and logistics to women who need it – whether it’s setting up childcare, lodging, transport, or providing money for a procedure or prescription. And as cliché as it is, we are depending on everyone to vote. I am clinging onto hope that during the next elections, Republicans and Democrats alike will stand up together and declare that the United States of America will not consider women to be second-class citizens.

Thanks for reading, thanks for supporting healthcare workers, and thanks for sticking with the Minocqua Brewing Company. Together we will get our rights back--one beer, hard seltzer, and vote at a time.

Dr. Morgan Mandigo, OB/GYN

Kirk Bangstad
Owner, Minocqua Brewing Company,
Founder, Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC

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