Last February, Dr. William Lile presented testimony to the Florida Legislature as it took up consideration of a proposed legislation regarding new limits on abortion. The law was ultimately passed and Governor Ron DeSantis signed the legislation last July.
Florida was one of a handful of states that quickly acted to restrict abortion following the United States Supreme Court’s Ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the 2022 ruling which overturned Roe v. Wade. Dobbs did not ban abortion, but instead held that the U.S. Constitution confers no right to obtain an abortion. As a result of that decision, the issue of abortion was returned to the states to be decided by their legislatures and courts. Florida’s law limited abortion to 15-weeks.
This year, Florida’s legislature took further steps, proposing a law that banned abortion after six weeks gestation. The bill was passed and was signed into law in April. Just this month, a Florida court enjoined enforcement of the six-week ban after it was challenged by Planned Parenthood and other organizations that claim that the Florida Constitution guarantees a right to abortion. At present, while the six-week limitation is enjoined, the 15-week limit remains in effect.
Dr. Lile opposes abortion at any stage of pregnancy, and someday, he hopes that everyone will be able to value all human life from the moment of conception. The following is testimony that Dr. Lile presented to the Florida Legislature in urging the state to restrict abortion.
To the Honorable Senators Kelli Stargel and Aaron Bean,
My Name is Dr. William Lile, D.O., FACOG. I am board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology, and I have been in private practice in Florida since 1999. My residency training was with the University of Florida. I have served as an instructor for both the University of Florida and Florida State Medical Schools in the field of obstetrics and gynecology. I have delivered over 4,000 babies. I am a strong advocate for patient’s rights: ALL patients.
The first rule that we are taught in medical school is that “A patient is a Person, and is entitled to respect and bodily integrity.” If a patient is in my office and this patient will die unless they receive a blood transfusion, but they were not born in the United States, I have a moral and legal obligation to provide them access to the needed blood transfusion. If a similar patient needs life-saving open heart surgery, but also was not born in the United States, I have the same duty to save their life. If another patient requires life-saving laser vascular surgery, but again, was not born in the United States, I will find them access to the needed care. Patients have rights, and as a physician, I have a duty to defend their rights and provide them access to life-saving procedures and therapies.
All of the patients described above would have died had it not been for these life-saving procedures. All of the above patients were not born in the United States because they had not been born yet. Yes, they are still in the womb, but clearly, they are patients.
We have performed life-saving blood transfusions directly to babies within the womb as early as 18 weeks gestation at my hospital. Blood donated by O-negative adults at their local blood banks is used to save the lives of babies still in the womb. Why would a baby need a blood transfusion? Because both the mother and the baby are separate patients. From the moment of conception, the baby is a unique person and can have a different blood type than the mother. Their blood does not mix together. On the first new obstetrics office visit, we test the mother for maternal blood antibodies. These antibodies can cross into the fetal circulation and attack the baby’s blood cells because the baby is a different person than the mother. The only cure? Transfuse blood directly into the fetal circulation with a long needle under ultrasound guidance. Sometimes, this procedure needs to be repeated every four to six weeks because the maternal antibodies continue to attack the baby. The baby is clearly a patient, and thus has the rights of a patient.
There are now scores of Fetal Care Centers in the United States, routinely treating the preborn as patients. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) recently celebrated their 2000th fetal procedure. Heart surgery, spina bifida corrective surgery, and placental laser vascular surgeries save the lives of babies in the womb every day.
We are taught about “informed consent” from the first day in medical school. As physicians, we have an obligation to inform patients of the risks, benefits, indications, and alternatives of any therapy. There are risks in fetal surgery within the womb. There must be benefits before performing any procedure. There are no benefits to the mother as a patient when performing fetal surgery. She has the risk of bleeding, infection, and possibly the need for a Cesarean section, but she has no benefits. So which patient benefits? The baby. Therefore, the baby is, by definition, the patient, and as a patient, has the rights of a patient.
From the moment of conception, a baby is genetically unique from the mother, the father, and the other seven billion people on the planet. We can study the unique genetics of a baby seven weeks after conception. A sample of maternal blood is routinely tested for “cell-free DNA.” Fragments of DNA from the baby are isolated from the maternal blood, and genetics, including sex, are determined with 99% accuracy: sex determination seven weeks after conception!
Patients have rights and physicians have rights. “Primum non nocere” is the second rule learned in medical school, meaning: “First, Do No Harm” while treating all patients with skill, respect, and dignity. We will “Do No Harm” to our patients, and since our patients include the preborn, we will not perform elective abortions. We will always protect the life of the mother in situations such as an ectopic pregnancy, but we will not take the life of a patient in the womb electively. We have an obligation to defend the rights of our most vulnerable patients. To be a voice for the voiceless, and defend the defenseless.
Thank you for supporting this bill and protecting the rights and lives of all patients over the gestational age of 15 weeks gestation. A patient is a person, no matter how small.
Section 2 of the Florida Constitution says that “…persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law and have inalienable rights, among which are the right to enjoy and defend life and liberty.” If the preborn can receive blood transfusions, and have open heart surgery and laser vascular surgery, they are patients. And if they are patients, they are persons. And if they are “persons, female and male alike,” then they have rights per the Florida Constitution. Thank you for defending the most vulnerable here in the Great State of Florida!
Thank you for your time.
Dr. William Lile, D.O., FACOG