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The wrong approach to women’s reproductive health | READER COMMENTARY

Anne Arundel County state Sen. Edward Reilly talks with colleagues on the opening of the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis last year. (Joshua McKerrow/Capital Gazette).
Anne Arundel County state Sen. Edward Reilly talks with colleagues on the opening of the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis last year. (Joshua McKerrow/Capital Gazette). (Joshua McKerrow/Capital Gazette)

I just read the article, “Reproductive health advocates decry Sen. Ed Reilly’s resolution to add menstrual tracking education in curriculum” (Feb. 1), and I am disturbed. One purpose of the bill is to ensure that schools teach girls to “track the health of their monthly cycle, including using natural or fertility awareness — based methods.” This proposal is totally inappropriate.

It is always extremely alarming when legislators become overly concerned with the vaginas of adolescent girls. I think we should all be outraged that this state senator had the audacity to submit it at all.

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Sen. Edward R. Reilly conveniently left out the long-term intent of this bill. Clearly, it would lay the foundation to limit access to abortions and birth control for the women who need them. Around the country, Republican politicians are submitting a host of bills whose goal is to challenge Roe v. Wade and to further erode women’s reproductive health. The current, conservative Supreme Court has motivated all of them to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.

My family belongs to a community of genetic carriers who have a 25% chance of passing on a deadly disease by conceiving naturally. In my case, 100% of my natural pregnancies were affected. I needed to terminate a pregnancy in Anne Arundel County and, unfortunately, the anti-abortion stigma infiltrated the fetal maternal medicine care I received. After multiple assessments, our doctors knew there was no chance of survival and that the baby was suffering, yet they were unable to provide compassionate care after they broke the bad news.

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Unfortunately, politics does influence medicine, often in defiance of science-guided practices. Highly trained and qualified doctors are often challenged by ill-informed people like Senator Reilly who should stay out of the business of women’s health.

My message to Senator Reilly is that he should take a look around at the people in his community. He likely sits in church pews among families like mine who would be negatively impacted by his bill. I say this as a woman and a mother who already lost two sons to a deadly disease and who gave birth to one miracle baby boy conceived via in vitro fertilization. Denying access to reproductive health and toying with the education of young girls is sinister.

If he wants to write a bill, he should start by expanding access to reproductive health and making it easier for families to use the infertility mandate in Maryland. He should have more faith in Maryland families to make these decisions.

Ashley Esposito, Baltimore

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