Public health considerations, not just legal bans, must come into play if the number of abortions performed in the United States is expected to drop, former Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Newsmax Wednesday.
"So to everyone out there who is against abortion … what are we going to do to promote women's health?" Adams, who served under former President Donald Trump, said on Newsmax's "National Report." "What are we going to do in the community to lower the number of unwanted pregnancies that women have? That's the real public health way that you lower abortions."
Instead, outright legal bans mark a "horrible, downstream choice," rather than giving women choices so they can make healthy decisions, said Adams.
He also spoke out against criminalizing the relationship between a woman and her doctor when pregnancies must be ended or procedures are necessary to ensure the health and life of the patient.
There are both legal and medical considerations when it comes to the question of abortion, and there are serious situations where the relationship between a doctor and patient should not be criminalized or made a matter of stigma, Adams, using his wife as an example, said.
"I'm a doctor [and] I want people to know that abortion is simply the loss of a pregnancy," he said. "When you look at that medical definition, and I share this with her permission, my wife by the medical definition actually had two abortions."
He said his wife had a "spontaneous abortion," where she lost a pregnancy, and "we would not want a woman in that situation, where she just has had a miscarriage, to feel like she can't talk to her doctor or her doctor can't talk to her."
He said his wife also had an ectopic pregnancy, "that would have killed her if it had gone to full term." The debate, he added, must focus on a public health role, not just laws that limit the availability of legal abortions, because statistically, those increase illegal abortions.
"What lowers abortions is actually lowering unwanted pregnancy," said Adams, stressing he does not want anyone to have an abortion, but he also does not want a woman to "have to make that horrible decision" to have one.
Adams on Wednesday also discussed the headlines about monkeypox, with the Biden administration ramping up vaccine production for cities where demand is outstripping the supply.
Like COVID-19, the progression of monkeypox must be followed carefully in order to avoid mistakes made during the pandemic, he said.
"We didn't understand that we were in an exponential growth phase," he said. "We are, in fact, in an exponential growth phase of monkeypox with 300 cases in the United States, but probably many more because it has a two-week incubation period that we are not seeing."
The good news is, however, that there is already a vaccine for monkeypox, and there was not one for COVID-19 at first.
"We know that men who have sex with men are the community that is being most impacted right now, but we know that this can impact anyone who has close personal contact with someone else," said Adams. "We don't want this to spread further than what it has to."
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