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Urologist refuses to come to San Antonio for annual conference because of Texas abortion laws

Dr. Ashley Winter
Courtesy photo
©2024 Alena Zhiltsova
Dr. Ashley Winter is a urologist and sexual medicine specialist based in California.

A urologist based in California tweeted that she will not attend the American Urological Association’s annual conference in San Antonio this year because of the state’s restrictive laws on reproductive rights.

Ashley Winter is a 39-year-old urologist and sexual medicine specialist based in Los Angeles. She was set to present her research at the May conference but announced via X (formerly Twitter) that she felt unsafe coming to the state.

Winter explained that she has a history of miscarriages and is attempting to have a second child with her husband.

“Sometimes if you have a miscarriage, which is considered a spontaneous abortion, you need procedures to end the pregnancy. We've all become very aware that having those procedures can sometimes be impossible if you're in Texas. I just don't feel comfortable going there,” she said.

Fellow urologist Casey Seideman wrote an open letter to the American Board of Urology asking them to pull out of the conference in Texas this year because of its strict laws on reproductive rights. The letter was widely signed by physicians and urologists, but the response from the board was underwhelming.

“And they responded like, ‘Oh, we're cognizant of your concerns. Thank you for letting us know your concerns.’ But that was kind of it,” Winter said.

A complete Texas abortion ban went into effect in 2022 after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Texas legislators determined that exceptions are allowed for abortions if it will save the pregnant person’s life, or to prevent serious danger to the pregnant person’s physical health. Winter said these exceptions are not reliable.

“Unfortunately, what we've learned over the past two years is that women have to be in a critical condition to get that care. They're told that they’re not sick enough,” she said.

The urologist added that she hoped other organizations will consider pulling out of Texas for their conferences.

“It’s not about not supporting the people of Texas, but really to make a statement about the risks that people have to face with the current climate there. This includes people who visit the state and the women that live in the state,” she said.

There’s a tremendous appetite for moving conferences out of states with abortion bans, Winter said.

“Why are our dollars supporting the economy of Texas when the state legislators are directly attacking the practice of medicine?” she asked.

Winter hoped the announcement of her decision will inspire others to pause before scheduling conferences, meetings and vacations in states where reproductive healthcare is restricted and inaccessible.

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