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A letter to my former doctor, an anti-abortion activist

June 17, 2024

Dr. Ingrid Skop is a prominent anti-abortion activist who has repeatedly supported the Texas abortion ban in the press, in court, and online. She submitted a declaration to a Texas court saying Kate Cox could not receive abortion care based on the state’s ban. She also testified last year in support of the state’s abortion ban in Zurawski v. State of Texas — a case to help Texans receive lifesaving emergency abortions. Skop is a frequent spokesperson for multiple anti-abortion organizations, and she is active on X, where she posts anti-abortion content.

Skop is also the former doctor of Melissa, a Lilith Fund client living in South Texas. Melissa learned about Skop’s views years later, when she went looking for a doctor for her teenage child. As a former patient, Melissa felt the need to express her feelings regarding Skop’s testimony and anti-abortion activities. We’re publishing her letter here.

Dear Dr. Skop,

At one point in my life, you were my primary OB-GYN. I came to you for annual check-ups and eventually sought your support in exploring fertility treatment options after years of trying to get pregnant. I trusted you with my body and healthcare. When I did eventually get pregnant, I was shocked but thrilled to tell you the news. I was about to call the office and schedule my first appointment with you to share the happy news of my pregnancy, but my sister recommended another provider in the practice who had delivered my nephew.

At the time, I felt so guilty making the change because up to this point, I trusted you and wanted to tell you that my dreams had indeed come true. It sounds silly, but I was so scared you’d find out I was seeing a different doctor. I had this feeling that you would be upset with me. Now I know that you are anti-choice, after hearing your testimony, and learning you run crisis pregnancy centers, or anti-abortion fake clinics, I thank my lucky stars you played zero part in my pregnancy journey.

I’m thankful that when I needed unbiased options upon receiving the most devastating, life- altering information about my pregnancy it was NOT under your care.

Of the 5,000 babies you say you’ve delivered over the last 29 years, I’d like to know how many patients you had to share news that their baby was not compatible with life? How many patients did you serve who were sexually abused and carrying their rapist’s babies? How many pregnant people did you see who could potentially die if they remained pregnant?

If I had been under your care during this pregnancy, I am horrified to think of how you would have treated me based on your testimony in court.

My new doctor recommended genetic testing due to my age. I was pretty shocked when I got the call directly from my doctor instead of just getting the results online like I expected. I didn’t fully understand what I was being told about the diagnosis until I talked to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist. It is called Trisomy 13. They explained it is a diagnosis that is “not compatible with life” and that many patients in my position choose not to continue the pregnancy. The results of the scan were instant, heartbreaking, and the list of defects was long and damning. In that instant, the course of my life was changed. How would you have treated me then?

What I knew then was that bringing my son into the world would only bring pain and suffering. I was referred to an abortion clinic since I was already 20 weeks pregnant. Would you have referred me? Would you have pushed your beliefs on me in a moment when I needed care and compassion? I’ve thought about it a lot. I’m so glad I was not under your care then. I’m also glad it was 2018. This happened before SB8, the six-week abortion ban that put “bounties” on people who help Texans get abortions, and it was before the total ban on abortion that we are living under now.

When I met you, it was my dream to get pregnant. My son was so loved and so wanted, but his body was sick. My body was only providing him life support. Outside of my body he would not survive. I was faced with two impossible decisions and guess what? Both of these outcomes ended with the same thing: death. After making my decision, I was able to access a safe and legal abortion close to home and did not have to flee the state to seek this care.

Since hearing your testimony, it makes me wonder what would have happened had you been my provider? Would you have been able to provide me with the accurate information I needed regarding my pregnancy to sort out all of my reproductive choices, or would you have pushed your own beliefs onto me, or even worse — tried to delay my care? After it was all said and done, and I returned to you for post-op check-ups would you have judged me? I’m glad I didn’t have to find out the answers to these questions the hard way.

I didn’t have any of these questions until a few years later, I was looking at the website of your practice because my teenager needed an OB-GYN and my doctor had recently passed away. That’s when I saw a note from your former office regarding your anti-abortion statements. This made me want to look into the details. Imagine my shock when I Googled you. I had no idea of your extreme and cruel beliefs until I read them.

Even back then, I had to endure so many barriers to access the abortion care I needed. My insurance could not cover the procedure, and I was forced to come up with money I did not have in a matter of days. I was also days away from Texas’ arbitrary gestation age ban coupled with the state’s mandatory waiting period, and limited clinic availability. All of these restrictions are put in place by people like you to make it as hard as possible on people who need abortions, like me. I had to face protesters close enough to bang on the hood of my car and scream nasty things at me.

I’m personally offended that you as a medical provider would use the term “dismemberment abortion.” This is harmful rhetoric and it makes me physically sick to my stomach that you continue to use this inflammatory language even though you know it is not a medical term. It truly is a gut-punch and hearing it makes me relive the trauma not only of ending a wanted pregnancy and losing my son, but the barriers I had to overcome to access care that was already heavily restricted. My heart is so heavy for current and future pregnant Texans. I’m disgusted I trusted you with my health and wellbeing at one point. I’m disgusted at your use of stigmatizing, medically inaccurate terminology. I’m horrified you’ve used your position as a reproductive healthcare provider to spread such gross misinformation.

I can only be grateful now that you were not my doctor then.

My story is rooted with great sadness, but no regret. My son had a huge impact on me. He made me want to share our story and advocate for people who find themselves in need of this critical medical care.

Dr. Skop, I wish you could answer the questions I asked you here. But I don’t think you will.

To everyone else reading this: I never thought I would need abortion care, but I did. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that I deserved my abortion more than anyone else because I had an inviable pregnancy. Don’t tell me that you would make an exception for me but not for someone else. Because that is not what I want. What I want is to live in a world where no matter the circumstances, abortion remains a personal decision between a pregnant person and their medical providers.

This experience has taught me the importance of seeking medical care from values-aligned providers, if you can. Having these brave conversations with your medical provider ahead of time can be a way to open up dialogue and bust stigma. It could also keep you from finding out the hard way that your doctor is not able to care for you the way we all deserve.