GUEST COLUMN: Why Neil Gorsuch is a threat to reproductive rights and my ability to practice medicine

Judge Gorsuch’s ruling in Hobby Lobby even indicates support for "personhood,” the conferring of legal rights to a fertilized egg. That’s both medically inaccurate and it allows employers to decide for their employees which birth control to use - something that is none of their business

As a Colorado obstetrician-gynecologist and reproductive health expert, I’m very concerned about  Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. And I’m asking both our Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet to oppose his nomination until we know for sure Judge Gorsuch shares our Colorado values on reproductive and abortion rights.

My concern is this: in legal cases, Judge Gorsuch has consistently sided against medical expertise and science to deny women contraceptive access. This has profound implications for my patients to obtain reproductive health care, including abortion, and it impacts my ability to provide it.

Judge Gorsuch’s rulings in both Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters both overrode the recommendations of the scientific and medical community on contraception and how it works.  Four major medical groups, representing a wide spectrum of health care providers, filed a brief in the case These four groups – Physicians for Reproductive Health, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Nurses Association-  all objected to the interference in personal, private medical decisions that Judge Gorsuch defended.

Judge Gorsuch’s ruling in Hobby Lobby even indicates support for “personhood,” the conferring of legal rights to a fertilized egg that Coloradans have rejected at the ballot box multiple times. He said that, “the mandate compels Hobby Lobby and Mardel to underwrite payments for drugs or devices that can have the effect of destroying a fertilized human egg.”

That’s both medically inaccurate and it allows employers to decide for their employees which birth control to use – something that is none of their business.

Coloradans strongly support the right to privacy – polling by NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado indicates that support for Roe here is even higher than the 7 in 10 who support it nationally. President Trump campaigned on promises to appoint justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, so it’s little wonder that his nominee seems to fit this out-of-touch view that doesn’t align with Coloradans’ support for choice. And it’s why Colorado grassroots groups like NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado oppose Gorsuch’s nomination. He is on the wrong side of Colorado voters and values.

After President Trump announced Gorsuch’s nomination, Operation Rescue, an organization whose president has openly advocated for the execution of doctors who provide abortion care, celebrated the selection and lauded Trump for his anti-choice pick. The president of Students for Life, Kristan Hawkins, who recently admitted that she would like to make birth control and IUDs illegal, said she was “thrilled” by Judge Gorsuch’s nomination. And the Daily Stormer, a white-supremacist website, lauded Gorsuch as a “hardcore right-winger, which is exactly what we wanted.” The glee with which these dangerous groups endorse a nominee for the Supreme Court is chilling.

In addition to earning the adulation of anti-choice extremists, Gorsuch’s record itself is a testament to the fact that he was handpicked by Trump to undermine women’s rights and roll back the clock on access to basic health care, including abortion and contraception.

Throughout his career, Judge Gorsuch has ruled against women and Americans’ personal liberty in favor of corporations, government interference, and those who seek to impose their narrow ideologies on the rest of us. He ruled that employers should be allowed to decide whether they’ll provide their female employees with access to birth control. He has donated to anti-choice politicians going back decades. And he went out of his way to defend a politician when he tried to defund Planned Parenthood after viewing a series of deceptive, heavily edited videos that lied about the work the health centers provide for their patients.

In January, we saw 200,000 Coloradans come together to stand up for what we believe  and to say this new Administration makes a mockery of our values. Now, we, the people, have to ensure Congress knows we will oppose Judge Gorsuch and Donald Trump’s agenda on our Supreme Court. There is simply too much on the line to elevate Trump’s dangerous ideology with a lifetime appointment to our nation’s highest court.

Dr. Jennifer Hyer is a Denver obstetrician-gynecologist and reproductive health expert