The Congenital Heart Surgeons Society (CHSS) is a professional organization whose mission is to advance the science, knowledge and practice of congenital heart surgery to optimize care and outcomes for all those with congenital heart defects. With that charge, we feel it is appropriate for our Society to make a statement regarding the recent decision of the Supreme Court regarding Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the longstanding precedent set in Roe vs. Wade, granting women a constitutional right to termination of pregnancy.
The CHSS has significant and legitimate concerns regarding the impact of this decision on the patient populations we serve, both pediatric and adult. Relevant clinical scenarios include but are not limited to 1) termination of pregnancy as a life-saving procedure provided for a woman for whom pregnancy is a life-threatening condition due to sequelae frequently seen in adult survivors of congenital heart disease such as cyanosis or severe pulmonary hypertension, 2) prenatal identification of terminal or non viable conditions in single gestation fetuses that may warrant termination of a pregnancy, or 3) the pre-terminal status of one fetus with congenital heart disease that threatens the viability of another fetus in the case of multiple gestation. Our surgeon members and our patients face these difficult life-saving clinical scenarios each day.
A decision that now grants arbitrary and variable access to pregnancy termination, determined by geography, inarguably creates enormous health care inequities, and fails to protect not only women with complex health issues, but also viable fetuses. Healthy children and families may lose their mother due to lack of legal access to appropriate and safe care. To the extent that limiting access to pregnancy termination threatens the lives of any our patients, we are committed to voicing our concerns and advocating for a system of laws that protect them.