Dr. Jenn Jury McIntosh on families facing pregnancy problems

Jenn Jury McIntosh, D.O., a maternal fetal medicine physician based in Milwaukee, describes offering guidance to patients who have health issues with pregnancies while abortion is banned in Wisconsin.

By Marisa Wojcik | Here & Now

August 30, 2023

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Dr. Jenn Jury McIntosh:
No one comes to us in our line of work in general to not build their family. They're coming because they're having a desired pregnancy in most cases. And so when we tell them that something's not quite right and they're not going to build the family that they had envisioned, we're kind of crushing their dreams. But to be able to kind of listen to whether they want to continue that pregnancy and we could support them through whatever that journey looks like, or whether they chose it for whatever reason that they just couldn't handle it, or they didn't like the idea of what that meant for future pregnancies or kind of how that child might suffer at birth or after birth, if they came to that decision that they wanted a termination or abortion, then we could help them through that pathway as well.

Marisa Wojcik:
Kind of wrap around.

Dr. Jenn Jury McIntosh:
Yeah, we could wrap our arms around whatever family-centered decisions were made, and that's changed. We still provide the same information and similar counseling, but now instead of helping them figure out exactly how to get the care that they need after I give them this terrible news, if it becomes clear that they're leaning towards a termination, I have to say, unfortunately this is illegal in the state of Wisconsin, and if this is what you choose to pursue then we'll have to give you information on how to pursue this out of state. And it feels like I'm abandoning my patients in saying that. It also feels like I'm adding a layer of guilt in choosing that to them. So even though it is a valid choice and ones that many families make when faced with a lethal diagnosis for their future child, then you're adding this layer of guilt. Oh, by the way, you can't do that here. Our state doesn't allow that. So you can just see sort of the outrage and shock in some of those families faces. And then, you know, we help as much as we can, but it's out of state, it's different insurance things. It's a whole host of a burden that the patients now have to bear themselves. Whereas it was fairly seamless for these families beforehand. And again these are families that are facing tragic diagnoses. They aren't planning this. We've surprised them with terrible news.

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