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Teen health put at risk with anti-abortion rule

President Donald J. Trump speaks to participants of the annual March for Life event on Jan. 19 in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington.
President Donald J. Trump speaks to participants of the annual March for Life event on Jan. 19 in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP)

I am writing to express my strong disapproval of President Donald Trump's proposed administrative rule that would take away federal funding from clinics that either provide abortions or refer patients to clinics that do perform abortions (“Trump thrusts abortion fight into crucial midterm elections,” May 20). As a pediatrician who cares for many teenagers (including many teenagers living in poverty), I engage in a number of activities that support adolescent reproductive health: I spend much of my time urging adolescents to delay the onset of sexual activity until they are older. For those who are sexually active (and are likely to remain so), I help teens use safe and effective contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, teenagers do sometimes experience unwanted pregnancies and desire pregnancy termination. In these cases, I consider it my medical duty to refer such patients for safe, affordable abortions.This is an important part of pediatric medical care. My professional organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), agrees with this approach. They published a policy in September, 2017, entitled "Clinical Report: Diagnosis of Pregnancy and Providing Options Counseling for the Adolescent Patient."

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In this policy, the AAP encourages pediatricians to discuss all three pregnancy options with pregnant teens: 1. continuing the pregnancy to delivery and raising the infant; 2. continuing the pregnancy to delivery and making an adoption/kinship care plan; and 3. terminating the pregnancy. In the case of a teenager who chooses to terminate a pregnancy, the AAP clearly states that "It is important for pediatricians to be aware of abortion services in their communities and offer information about these resources to their pregnant adolescents."

I have grave concerns that this proposed administrative rule will force me and my pediatric colleagues to deny many of our teenage patients — especially those living in poverty — appropriate pediatric care.

Dr. Oscar Taube, Baltimore

The writer is chairperson of the Committee on Adolescence of the Maryland Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics.

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