Speaker Johnson threatens my ability to do my job. If he gets his way, I’ll wind up in prison.

By DeShawn Taylor

November 14, 2023

As the owner and founder of one of only seven clinics available to perform abortions in Arizona, I understand the risks to our lives and our freedoms brought to bear by radical abortion restrictions. With the election of the new Speaker of the House, I’m worried that my ability to care for my patients is now under even greater threat.

After weeks of failed votes and closed-door meetings, House Republicans unanimously voted for Rep. Mike Johnson (LA-04) to be the new Speaker of the House. They chose an anti-abortion extremist to be second-in-line to the Presidency. They also placed patients’ health and freedom and doctors’ ability to provide essential care on the chopping block.

Johnson’s record on abortion

Speaker Johnson holds dangerous views on abortion and has spent his career fighting to roll back our freedoms. During his tenure in Congress, he championed legislation to ban abortion nationwide, as well as bans before many people would even consider they may be pregnant and fetal personhood bills. Before coming to Congress, Johnson was working to end access to abortion care. He spent years as a senior attorney and spokesperson at Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-abortion organization that was instrumental in the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending nearly 50 years of federal protection for abortion care

If it were up to Johnson, doctors like myself would be thrown in prison and sentenced to hard labor for serving our patients. In Arizona, laws restricting abortion and criminalizing providers have already impacted the care patients are able to receive. After the fall of Roe, contradictory laws designed to sow confusion caused clinics across Arizona to stop providing abortion out of fear of criminal charges.

My own clinic paused services for three weeks and currently operates at a reduced capacity under Arizona’s 15-week abortion ban. The state Supreme Court is now even reconsidering a law from 1864, before Arizona was a state, that would completely ban legal abortion and allow up to five years in prison for abortion providers. I should be able to use the skills I spent years learning in medical school, residency, and fellowship to help my patients and shouldn’t have to fear criminalization for providing that care.

Abortion care is health care

Mike Johnson supports a total abortion ban like the 1864 Civil War-era law, tweeting in celebration of the fall of Roe v. Wade that “we will get the number of abortions to ZERO.” Abortion is a core aspect of my practice as a board-certified OB/GYN offering fully integrated women’s health services. It is essential health care that many pregnant people need; 1 in 4 people with reproductive capacity will have an abortion in their lifetimes. It is also a decision that all my patients should have the right to make for themselves, their bodies, and their futures.

The extreme ideals espoused by Mike Johson and his supporters ignore the humans behind the numbers. Those who parrot his anti-abortion stance ignore the humanity of the pregnant person who is making important decisions about their life, as well as doctors like me who are there to provide them with the care they need. No one should make these critical decisions but the person who is pregnant, with their doctor and the people they love and trust.

Majority of abortion patients are religious

Mike Johnson cloaks his dehumanization of people seeking abortion and providers in claims of Christianity as a moral compass. This radical interpretation of scripture does not represent my faith as a Christian or the faith of millions of others. Over 60 percent of people who seek abortion care are people of faith. Having an abortion is a personal decision and not one that should be governed by Mike Johnson’s thinly veiled vilification of his constituents and those who care for them.

I took an oath to care for those in need to the best of my ability. The laws proposed and supported by Speaker Mike Johnson would make that impossible. When doctors are banned from fulfilling their most basic functions, patients’ lives are at risk.

As long as Mike Johnson holds the Speaker’s gavel, the health and freedom of patients and doctors will be under siege. Avoiding the worst will take all of us fighting for our rights and holding our leaders accountable before it’s too late.

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