The stakes don’t get any higher for women than the fight over reproductive rights.

Power, control, and autonomy are clashing head-on in the United States —in real-time— as we live through a contentious battle where, quite frankly, lives are at risk and freedoms are in question.

The Think Tank of Three welcomes Dr. Shieva Ghofrany, a prominent OBGYN from Stamford, Connecticut to weigh in on the health implications for women, based on her expert perspective and personal experience.

From the “trad wife” phenomenon to biblical interpretations of women’s roles to the alarming shifts in laws governing women’s health decisions across various states, hosts Julie Holton and Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris invite you to join the conversation. Together, let’s build an understanding of the stakes, empowering women to make informed decisions, and recognizing the voices that are often silenced in mainstream debates.

Dr. Ghofrany’s insights, coupled with her personal experiences in both the medical and patient spheres, make this episode a crucial listen for anyone committed to understanding and advocating for women’s rights in today’s landscape.

Watch now and subscribe to Think Tank of Three, where we’re choosing to sit in the discomfort — to grow together — one conversation at a time.

Learn more about Dr. Shieva Ghofrany.

Podcast Transcript: The Battle Over Reproductive Rights with Dr. Shieva Ghofrany

Julie Holton: Are you ready for this?

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: Uh, I am ready for this. I’m, I’m very much so ready for this. I do. I have one question for you. Have you seen on social media? There’s this, this trend on social media. I don’t know if it’s called trade wife or trad wife, T R a D W I F E. Um, for those who haven’t, apparently it’s women pushing the so called traditional roles.

Of women being subservient to their husbands and keeping a tidy home. Now look, being a housewife, a homemaker, however you want to label it. No joke. This is thankless work. It is 24 seven. You are doing just about everything and you are not getting paid, but you are not subservient. So you need, I’m not sure what this trad wife thing, what it’s really about, unless it’s about being like undercover way of saying whatever you think is what your husband thinks, which of course, you know, me and television and whatnot, Downton Abbey episode, uh, lady Mary Crawley, who’s an independent thinker herself says to, uh, lady Violet, um, I was only saying that Sybil is entitled to her opinions and Countess Viola is like, no, she isn’t until she’s married.

And then her husband can tell her what her opinions are. Uh, what? So I bring this up because this is about women having their own voices about anything they want. And especially They’re reproductive health decisions.

Julie Holton: I wonder the reach like, just, I mean, I’m going to just take us on a tangent for a moment.

The women who are creating these videos on social media, is this them using their voice? Are they echoing their husband’s voice, but it’s still their voice that they’re using. So does that go against their own, their own idea that they don’t have a voice, but they’re using a voice that’s theirs? I don’t know.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: And it’s so strange. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know what’s happening.

Julie Holton: Well, and I want to say this too. So, you and I, we’ve shared on the podcast many times. We’re both women of faith. Um, and so, in the Bible, we know that the literal words in the Bible talk about being subservient to, well, What, what’s the, what’s, what’s the exact phrase that I’m going to say the exact phrase, but like basically like we are to honor our husbands, right?

And as a 41 year old, who’s never had a husband, I’m engaged, but you know, that’s always been a fun thing because apparently I’m supposed to still honor my father. And I can tell you, he doesn’t make the decisions in my life, nor would he want to, but that aside, you know, I know what the literal words in the Bible say about honoring your husband.

I also know that you and I, Are equals in our relationships. We are not subservient to anyone. That is what you and I believe. Some women of faith would say that we are not following the word of God. Um, that could be a whole conversation for another day. But that aside, I do want to say that, you know, I have a woman in my life who I love very much, respect very much.

She very much has a voice. She does believe in traditional marriage roles. She believes that, um, she has certain responsibilities and that her roles, um, are, you know, Kind of, like, she, she believes in what she’s supposed to be doing as the woman in the relationship and her husband has the roles that, and that works for them.

She, and that doesn’t, you know, diminish her voice. She feels very good about the, the cooking and the cleaning and she has a, she also has, she’s a nurse. Um, and so, you know, amen to her. If that’s what she, as a woman, wants, then I support that. I don’t support is this idea that anyone is a servant or a slave or is not allowed to have their own voice.

That’s where I draw the line. If you’re making the choice to be a traditional, in a traditional role, or what we consider as a traditional role for a woman, then amen, yay for you. But if you’re not making the choice and you are stuck in that role, that’s where we have issue. Wouldn’t you say, Reesh?

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: I would, and I brought all that in.

Just out of the thought of choice and thought process and women thinking for themselves and, and making decisions for themselves or making decisions with their significance and their medical professionals for themselves. And for people to stay the heck out of my personal business and my personal decisions and stop telling me that, well, what does your husband think?

I, you know, stay out of my marriage. So I, I, I, my frustration is where we are at in this country and how it feels like we are seriously moving so far backwards. That makes no sense to me whatsoever that my daughter has less rights today than I had Just a few short months and maybe a year or two or three ago

Julie Holton: and right that we worked how Long to even achieve, you know, I just saw my my grandmother This week we had a funeral in our family and my grandma is 90 years old She is the mother of 12 children Very Catholic family very as you know Catholic family You Um, after that twelfth child, she said, you know what?

To heck with this. I believe in birth control. I believe in standing up for my rights as a woman. I do not want any more children. I mean, she was pregnant at the same time as some of her daughters and daughters in law, right? Now, not to say she doesn’t love all of her twelfth children. And of course, like, I have this amazing family, but at that point, she then went to college, she kept going, she got her PhD, she studied, and then became a professor in women’s history, she taught, I mean, like, so this feminist movement, Uh, some people call it, which to us is just life, right, because we’re women and that’s how we live life as women.

Um, you know, this was a huge part of her life to find who she became later in life when she found her voice. And my grandfather fully supported her, which was amazing. But so just a couple days ago, I’m sitting next to my grandmother and I’m talking to her knowing this podcast episode is coming up. And I just thought.

Like, what the hell? Like what? All of this hard work that so many women before us have gone through, and also the work of men, because it takes men to create that equal playing field as well. And now what? We’re being set back to, to laws that are destroying women’s lives, like literally putting their health on the line.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: The joke was Handmaid’s Tale, and it’s like not a joke anymore because it’s like, But as you can tell, this show is about to get very serious on very seriously controversial subjects. And we have the perfect guest to dig into all of this with think tank of three starts right now.

Julie Holton: Welcome to the Think Tank of three podcast alongside my partner, deep in thought today, Rishi, a candidate capasaurus. I am Julie Holton, and we are so glad you are here today. This episode, we are tackling women’s reproductive rights. This is an episode that we have been. Talking about Risha and I and looking forward to for a very long time.

We are doing this respectfully. We are doing this openly and our goal is to do this safely so that everyone feels that they have a voice at the table and can be heard. We hope you are willing to listen and consider what we have to say today, and especially what our guest has to say.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: Our guest today is a friend of mine, Dr.

Shiva Ghaffrani. She’s an OBGYN here in Stamford, Connecticut, and she has been on both the doctor and the patient side of that field in all manners for herself. She has dealt with miscarriage. She has dealt with vaginal delivery, C section, weight control surgery, ovarian cancer, child with intrauterine stroke, child with club foot.

So yeah, she knows, okay. She has taken that knowledge of science. Experience and emotion teamed up with a holistic health coach to start tribe called V a virtual platform, providing a safe environment for questions and answers regarding all things women’s health. She also is the host of the podcast, a certain age talking about women’s healthcare that peels away the fear and just gets real.

So Shiva, thank you so much for joining the show.

Dr. Shieva Ghofrany: Thank you for having me. I know Rishi, you know this, that I love to talk. So, and I love to talk especially about women and people with uteruses. So this is going to be a great, this is going to be a great time. We’re going to educate and we are going to empathize with everyone out there who needs it.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: Absolutely. Absolutely. So let us not waste time. Let’s just dive right in. Clearly, we were talking, uh, about women’s choices and decisions and healthcare choices and, and, and life care choices, what have you, abortion rights. are beyond under attack. pretty much gone in some in other states. And at t the medical perspective, associated with what is h productive health care?

Dr. Shieva Ghofrany: S first start with just, I all three of us, I’m sure irony is not lost on us t The very party that claims to want less government intervention is aggressively intervening. in matters that really, really should not be political. And what’s fascinating to me is that we have people saying to us things like, you’re a doctor, why are you getting into political issues?

And I’ve said a million times, I don’t want to get involved with political issues. I don’t want the decision about reproductive rights and reproductive justice and someone’s bodily autonomy to have anything to do with politics. I don’t want to talk about politics, but the government and the politicians Have made this political when they really should not have.

So that is a very dangerous precedent that as we’ve seen has snowballed. I don’t think any of us could have foreseen how aggressive and how dangerous this could have been. And actually I qualify that because there are people I remember growing up. I was born in 1970 and as we know, 1973 was a landmark decision.

We never thought we would go backwards, but I remember being in college in 1988 to 19, 1992. And my sister who was with me in college. was volunteering for the National Organization for Women. She was at an abortion rights rally. And I remember thinking, well, this is it. We’re just going to keep gaining rights.

We would not go backwards. And Julie, just like your grandmother, my mother is 84. She is a feminist. She was a doctor from Iran back in the day where women were not really often physicians from Iran. We did not think this would happen. There were people, I remember, saying, you have to be careful. Your rights are not something you should take for granted.

And I have to be honest. I took them for granted. I did not think that we would regress. I mean, I keep saying jokingly, but it’s not a joke. This is not your mother’s row. Roe v. Wade is not even, we have so kind of backtracked and surpassed the rights of Roe being removed because Roe was really kind of only about abortion.

Now, one of the things we need to really discuss aggressively and openly, as you said, Julie, is the fact that it’s not just abortion that’s on the line. It is so many other aspects of our reproductive health, as we know in the news recently, including IVF and including contraception. So anyone out there who is Like me, sadly resting on their laurels in the past thinking, well, it’s only about abortion and I don’t think I’m ever going to need an abortion.

I don’t want an abortion. I no longer even could get an abortion. Think about your sisters, your daughters, your nieces, your friends. It’s not just about whether or not they choose to stop a pregnancy. It’s also about contraception. It’s about your safety. So we need to talk about again, the very real examples that we’ve seen since overturning row, where women have been in danger, where women’s lives.

Have actually really, really been put on the line, which is again, the other irony that we’re talking about things like the terribly inappropriately used pro life word when very realized lives, meaning the life of a person who already exists on earth has been compromised in exchange for the possible protection of an embryo.

That’s not pro life. That is, again, the other terms we would use. We should use our anti choice or forced birth. So, so much to discuss. It’s, it’s frightening what is happening. And I, and I, on my platform, especially on social media, you might know this, I really try to frequently decrease fear for people.

Because I think there’s so much fear surrounding our health, and I think so much unfortunately misplaced anxiety surrounding our health, so a big part of my mantle is to decrease fear and educate and empathize and engage so that people can feel better. This is a time where unfortunately I can’t overstate that I actually am scared of what can happen to us as women because I’ve seen it.

I’ve seen examples recently in my own obstetric and gynecological practice where emergencies have happened that would have potentially led to death in other states.

Julie Holton: I think that’s where we start because, uh, you know, as you were, as you were talking, I kept thinking, okay, we start here. We start here. We start.

I mean, there’s so much to cover in this, but I want to start there because I think that one thing, if anything catches the attention of people who are unsure where they stand on this or unsure, you know, If they want to have a voice or should have a voice, it’s that real women, women we know are being impacted by this.

And you might think for a moment, Oh, I don’t know anyone who, like you said, I don’t know anyone who’s going to have an abortion or whose health might be on the line. The truth is you do, you just don’t, we’re just not talking about it openly. So can you start there? What, what are you seeing right now in your practice where.

You know, that these women’s lives would be impacted potentially even, you know, they could, they could die because of the conditions that they’re facing and the laws that are now stacked against them.

Dr. Shieva Ghofrany: Yeah. Julie, I’m so glad you brought it up that way, because I do think that’s really important. I think let’s make it clear that probably many people listening are pro choice in support of a person’s right to choose whether or not they want to get pregnant and continue the pregnancy.

And to all of you listening who are in that camp, thank you. And let’s continue to. Export that message to anyone who is not sure, like you have said, I think that because the messaging has constantly been, oh, an abortion, which people kind of assume is only the willful termination of a pregnancy that was obtained through lack of being responsible.

And so they kind of view that as that is. Unethical and we should never do that. Let’s put those situations aside because that’s not what we need to talk about right now What we really need to talk about is in addition to those which I still believe everyone has the right to terminate their pregnancy if they choose to even if they misguidedly did not use birth control.

Even if they had the privilege of being able to access it, even if all those things, I still think they have the right. But let’s put that aside. To your point, Julie, the examples I can give, and there are so many, I’ll try to limit it to a couple, but these are real life examples that have happened, again, in my practice, in suburban Connecticut, a very blue state, very recently.

The most profound of which was four weeks ago, I’m on call, and in the middle of the night, a patient well known to us comes in. She was in her early 40s. Married, intentionally wanting to be pregnant, gets pregnant but doesn’t realize it because her pregnancy test was negative. When she, when she checked it about four weeks ago, she had what she thought was a period three weeks ago and gets brought into the emergency room in debilitating pain because she had an ectopic pregnancy, which is a pregnancy that most people have probably heard of where the embryo is in the tube.

It grows inside the tube. It cannot live inside the tube. The tube is very small. So when it grows. The tube gets stretched out and the blood vessels in the tube are very robust and they can then bleed because the tube bursts. She comes to the emergency room. She literally had what we call a belly full of blood, but two liters.

And again, think of everyone out there listening, two liters of blood in her abdomen with an embryo with a heartbeat in the tube. To anyone listening, you cannot transplant that embryo into the, Oh, into the uterus. Just keep it. There’s no way to do that. I know a congressman in the past made implications of that.

That is impossible. In any other circumstance prior to Western medicine, the woman would have died because she would have continued to bleed. And then not only she would have died, but the embryo clearly would have died. So there’s no life here because we are in our state. We were able luckily to admit her through the emergency room and quickly get her into the operating room and remove the tube and stop the bleeding.

If she were in any of the red States where the laws have been very aggressive and very, um, clear. That if a doctor intervenes, they can only do it because they need to protect the life of the mother. So a lot of the anti choice people out there would say, Well, the doctor was able to intervene even in Texas because he was supposed to, or she was supposed to save the life of the mother.

But because of the way the law is written, it really, really has changed the way doctors have to practice. They have to be very purposeful in making sure that there is zero chance that this woman could otherwise survive before they intervene because they might be held liable legally. And this is not just the medical liability.

This is now criminal action. And so as the doctor, while we have our oath and we want to take care of people, if I’m going to then intervene to save your life, I have to be really sure that no one in that hospital, because then I don’t remember what they call it, but some type of whistleblower act allows anyone to contact the to say that doctor performed an abortion.

So if One of the nurses, one of the anesthesiologists, anyone says, well, technically she wasn’t really going to die immediately. If I intervene to save her life, I could then be prosecuted. And so we’ve seen, in states like Texas and Florida, examples where these women have had to have a delay in their diagnosis and procedures.

So at best, they’re suffering trauma and potentially having more need for things like excessive blood transfusions. And at worst, they can die. Other examples that we’ve seen are, for example, a patient who sadly, again, intended wanted pregnancies. And the reason I keep saying intended and wanted pregnancies is these are all of you listening.

This is you, your mothers, your sisters, your nieces, your friends. This is the most Catholic of people on earth who absolutely would never stop a pregnancy. These are examples that happen. So another patient comes in who broke her water at about 16 weeks of pregnancy. That means that, that pregnancy is not viable, viability defined by the fact that that pregnancy could not live outside the uterus.

Now in our situation, we are able to manage that with her and help decide does she want to wait for the birth to happen on its own as long as we’re watching for risk of infection, or does she want to induce the delivery so that it decreases her risk of infection because that is a risk to her, because we know there’s no way to save the pregnancy at this point, or does she want a procedure to remove the pregnancy?

She has choices. And those choices help her protect herself, especially because her life is a fully realized life. She is here on earth, and we would like to protect it. That is actually the definition of being pro life. Now, if she were in another state, she doesn’t have that option. Her only option is to wait until her body self aborts the pregnancy, if there is still a heartbeat.

And that can take several days or even weeks, increasing her risk of infection. That can be catastrophic. That’s right. And again, we’ve seen in states like Florida where women either have been on the brink of death or died or had such severe infection that then their uterus has to be removed, which again, clearly obviates their ability to have a pregnancy in the future.

So all of these laws that are claiming to be pro life are not. Another very clear example, and then I will open it up for more discussion, is People again, and I say this a lot of the rallies that I’ve spoken at, we’re in a blue state. We take for granted that we’re in Connecticut, we’re in a blue state, we’re protected.

Yes, we feel so bad for women in the South, we’ll donate money. But what we don’t think about, and therefore we don’t rally hard enough, is those times where our daughters or sisters will be in those red states because they’re in college, because they are on vacation. And if your child, or your sister, or any woman you know, Has an ectopic pregnancy, again, a pregnancy growing in her tube, despite using birth control.

Maybe she willfully has an IUD, so she’s being as responsible as possible, trying to protect herself. She can have an ectopic pregnancy growing in her tube. You will not have time to get her across state lines to save her life. So really, really, really. All of the parents out there who are thinking, I’m going to send my kids to college in Texas and Florida, but I live in Connecticut and I’m privileged enough to be able to get her home if something happens where she gets pregnant, please do not assume that is true.

Please, please consider your choices. These are and this is not a scare tactic where I’m like one in a million chance. These things could happen if that patient of ours. We’re in a red state. As I said, at best, she would have suffered much more emotional trauma because she would have had to wait and wait with pain and anxiety until the doctor felt like he really could intervene.

I’m saying he purposely, by the way, I know that doctors are female, but in these cases, let’s face it, many of the legislators are men and they are making laws about our bodies they claim that the Republican Party does not want to intervene in our private life. They claim to be the party that wants to allow us to have autonomy, and yet they are very purposefully and nefariously removing our bodily autonomy.

They are going to go after birth control, as we’ve seen already. So again, anyone out there who thinks this is merely about abortion and about willfully stopping a pregnancy because someone’s irresponsible, it is not only about that. It is about so much more. It is not your mother’s row. It is a completely different world.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: Well, even looking at, I mean, you hit on so many things in your examples just then and, and one of them when you were talking about the, the, um, woman’s body self aborting, you know, with miscarriage, you know, is it not the same procedure with miscarriage, with clearing of That whole process because you have to go in there like they say, well, if you, your body will expel it on its own.

I have friends where body didn’t expel it on its own. You had to go in and have the same procedure done. That would be done if you were having a willful, Abortion and basically you’re so everything that they are saying with these laws is counterintuitive and to piggyback on your sending your child to the South to go to college thought process.

Oh, by the way, you have laws in Texas where they’re going after people who drove you to the airport to go to your home state. Oh, by the way, they’re also done.

Dr. Shieva Ghofrany: And I’m not sure if it’s Texas, one of the other Southern states wants to enact law legislation so that if your friend and doctor from another state even advises you or helps you cross state lines, they can be held liable, which luckily in Connecticut we are protected.

But another thing that you just touched upon, that’s also really important again, let’s go back to the person who lives in Texas who considers themselves to be pro life. Who wants a pregnancy and absolutely knows that no matter what, whether there’s a birth defect, no matter what, they would never stop a pregnancy.

I understand that. I respect that. They still can be in a position where to your point, they get pregnant, they have a miscarriage. The miscarriage means that essentially the pregnancy isn’t going to survive. But like you said, your body does not always know to dispel it right away. Would eventually, but eventually it could be weeks to months away.

So now you’re in a position where you either need the pregnancy to be removed. Again, the heartbeat has already stopped. So in your mind, you think, well, I can go to the doctor and I don’t want to suffer and wait, and I want to get pregnant again. So let me go have. What’s called a dilation and curatage, the protect the procedure that we do to dilate the cervix gently and remove the contents of the pregnancy, which is the same procedure as an abortion.

Okay, again, the word abortion is actually a terrible name because in Latin abortus really means that the fetus has essentially stopped and is going to come out. So the difference is whether or not we are terminating the pregnancy because of your choice or terminating the pregnancy because there was a medical diagnosis like a miscarriage where the pregnancy stopped.

Same procedure. Now in states like Texas, what we see are the residency programs obviously do not train on actual abortions, so the doctors have less, um, less experience with DNCs, so even those people who have a spontaneous miscarriage, who would never have a local abortion, they will not be able to find doctors who are as equipped to do these procedures and actually cover many of the complications that can occur from these procedures.

Like hemorrhaging. Plus, many of the doctors are leaving these states. So, again, those women in those states who deem themselves to be pro life are suffering and will suffer more because of lack of access to care. And it doesn’t matter about privilege. This is those times where I say, yes, of course we know that the people who are underprivileged with regard to race or access to care because of, of, um, insurance are absolutely going to be hit the hardest.

But it is not only those people. White women with insurance. are being hit and will be hit whether or not they’re pro life. And that is why I think that they really need to listen and understand that their very legislators are the ones who are actually harming the same people that they’re claiming to protect.

The same pro life constituents who are voting them in are the ones who will be harmed and already have been. So the other examples that even older women who again have no more uterus or have no more ability to get pregnant. They need to consider that their family, friends, or even themselves, if they need, for example, a biopsy of their uterus.

We sometimes use the medication called misoprostol, which is one of the two medications that we use for a medical abortion. It’s the part of the medication that actually helps your uterus contract a little bit to dilate the cervix to allow the rest of the pregnancy to come out. Again, let’s say you need.

a biopsy because you are post menopausal and you’re bleeding. That medication, that has nothing to do with causing the abortion, it just dilates your cervix. And you are, let’s say, 65 years old, you couldn’t even get pregnant. That medication is being withheld at many pharmacies because the pharmacists will invoke their religious right to, I don’t really even understand it, not give you the medication when it’s not even being used for abortions.

And that we saw even in Connecticut. We had a little bit of pushback from certain pharmacists. Who would kind of call our office back. Why are you prescribing this? Trying to understand if we were prescribing it for a miscarriage or an abortion, which they, to me should have no legal right to do in any business, not their business.

I’m the doctor. I have prescribed it, but on top of it, they were doing this for times that weren’t even, not only couldn’t have to do with pregnancy, but again, this has to do with the woman’s health, the potential risk of her having uterine cancer and needing a biopsy. So again, All of this to say that the implications are so deep, so far reaching and can affect every single woman on earth right now.

This is very important for people to listen to.

Julie Holton: I think this is where the logic, I just, like, this is where I get really confused about that, like, genuinely confused and angry. But first comes the confusion, right? Because, you know, I remember, as you were describing earlier, when we were growing up and hearing these conversations about reproductive rights, I thought, well, no one’s advocating to kill babies.

Like, no one’s out there, like, there’s no one, as far as I am aware of, unless there are some serial killer groups who I, you know, like, no one is out there advocating for the killing of babies. And if we look at the science, which is your, your specialty, if we look at the science of what, like, when there is life, and when a woman’s life is in danger compared to Maybe there’s a heartbeat, but, but a fetus is not yet viable to live outside of the womb.

Even with all of the medical advancements we have, which are, which are so amazing in this country, how is it that we can say those cells, that fetus that is not yet a baby, is more important than the woman that is carrying it? I, I just, it, it, boggles my mind. And, and when I was growing up, my, my mom, um, uh, who is retired now, she was the head of the ultrasound department in our, our hospital here, our health care system.

And so she oversaw multiple office locations. And so, you know, we’d be at family events or parties with friends and people will, you know, maybe she was meeting someone for the first time and they’d ask what, you know, that conversation, you know, Oh, what do you do? And, Oh, you get to work with babies all day.

And she’d just smile and nod and, and really, you know, she would see the worst of the worst cases, many, many of which, you know, she couldn’t really talk about. And so I know, you know, I would see her going through that really difficult time where she, you know, she’s in the worst of cases that women don’t even, many women aren’t even aware of.

You know, when, when a fetus is, is developing and is so malformed, there is no life there. Maybe there’s a heartbeat. And now under these new strict laws, a woman in Texas, a woman in some of these red states would be forced to carry this disease. This fetus, this baby, I, I struggle calling it a baby because it’s not a baby in the sense that we think of a baby and it’s not even like just, oh, like a baby with, you know, that’s not gonna, that’s going to have some, some disabilities or some like, no, this is a baby that will not live, that will not survive.

And. I, I just cannot understand how that has become more important to some people in this country than the woman who is carrying it. Right.

Dr. Shieva Ghofrany: It doesn’t make sense. I mean, again, if we’re talking about pro life, we never want to choose between lives. I think that’s like something that all of us struggle with, right?

But the fact is every single day in our world, there are choices with life. And so if you were going to choose a life. And this is why I keep using the term fully realized life, the person here on earth. The other aspect is I really feel like even when we talk about, again, those abortions that are first trimester in someone who let’s just assume wasn’t as meticulous and responsible about using birth control, whether it’s because they lack access to care or they really have all the privilege and all the access and they just didn’t use birth control, right?

I won’t even say birth control failures. They just didn’t use it. Please. Is forcing them to have the pregnancy actually going to help anyone, and let’s assume that your answer is, well, no, it’s not. But I so believe that life starts at con, at conception that I can’t advocate for terminating the pregnancy.

Okay, then let’s work together. Let’s agree that even as an OB, GYN, who’s very, very in support of abortion. I would love and actively work to mitigate the number of abortions that need to be performed. I would love to live in a world where the only abortions that need to be performed are truly, truly because of significant anomalies or mom’s life.

I would love to eliminate every single. unintended, unintentional pregnancy. And the only way to do that is education and access to birth control. So let’s work together so that we can reach that end. But what are the Republicans doing? They are blocking access to contraception and they are blocking access to education.

So really, really, really, they are making the situation so impossible. So I would ask the women who support the Republicans in this situation, what is your solution? If your solution is merely Well, you just shouldn’t have sex until you’re ready to have a pregnancy. The fact is that might sound lovely.

That might be biblically love what we were intended to do. I’m not sure it is, but let’s just say that it was, but is that realistic? And is that really, really what we’re hanging our hat on is. Just wait until you get married and you’re intentionally ready to get pregnant because we’ve seen that that doesn’t work We haven’t even

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: and we haven’t even discussed the individuals who oh, by the way Maybe had waited and when you’re 10 years old and you are unfortunately, I’m gonna bring this in right?

Yes What does that have to do with wait until you’re ready? Exactly, and then you turn around and say oh and by the way said ten year old you should have to have that By the way, it was not her choice to have that happen to her. It was not her choice. None of it. So it’s all counterintuitive. And I, I just don’t know what it’s all about outside of.

Control. Well, I think we want to control you, control your mind, control. We want control. And that’s why I reached back to what I originally started off with this whole subservient to man thing, because it is mostly men that are making these laws and passing these laws. Yes, there are women who are signing off on them, but the majority, the overwhelming majority is men making these laws, passing these laws.

And then they all stepped in it. They all stepped in it with the Alabama thing with IVF, right? I mean, Alabama Supreme Court says an embryo is a child, and therefore falls under the wrongful death laws here in Alabama. They shut down IVF clinics in Alabama. Immediately. And what did Alabama state legislature do?

They were like, crap, that’s not what we wanted to happen here because they had people who had IVF to have the Children that they have. So the state goes in and says, okay, we’ll put in a fix. IVF clinics and clinicians and those who work there within are immune to civil and criminal prosecution. If something happens to an embryo under their watch.


Dr. Shieva Ghofrany: Well, by the way, but by the way, only until I think, uh, March of 2025 or something, right? It’s not indefinite. Your fix isn’t even permanent. And oh, by the way, your fix doesn’t actually address the situation to begin with, which is you claimed embryo as an extra uterine. Yeah. They’d use the term extra uterine children.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: So here’s a basic question for you, doctor, who went to medical school and science and all of those things. Yeah. What is an embryo?

Dr. Shieva Ghofrany: Well, Rashia, an embryo is when the egg and the sperm get together, often in the tube, but sometimes in a petri dish in the in vitro fertilization clinic. And that embryo then will continue to grow and replicate its cells to then give rise to the fetus, which is what we then call it once it’s reached a couple of weeks.

Up until it is viable, viability is a challenging word because viability can have different endpoints based on our science and our ability to again if we care about science, we care about science because we want to keep improving our ability to save people right through our medical interventions and yet somehow we’re ignoring science here.

But the embryo cannot live outside of, at this point, a womb, a uterus, maybe in the future we’ll create an external uterus, but it still needs to grow somewhere. It can’t live on its own, it is not a baby, it is a group of cells. I don’t want to be kind of emotionally dismissive and be like, it’s just a clump of cells and nothing else, because I actually truly honor life in all of its forms.

I honor embryos as a potential for life. But that is what they are. It is the potential for life and you need many embryos potentially to create an actual pregnancy. So to protect every single embryo in the way Alabama did was really, really misguided. And we know that not only did it, did it set a precedent that was dangerous, but if these states really care about life, What they did in those couple of weeks until they kind of overturned it and said, no, no, no, we’re going to protect the in vitro fertilization clinics, that the reproductive endocrinology and fertility clinics, just for background for everyone out there.

Overnight, the big, big clinics in Alabama had to halt all of their cycles, again, for very genuine fear that they would have criminal prosecution if they transferred an embryo and the embryo didn’t take or they had to discard embryos or during the thawing process an embryo didn’t make it. They were worried that they would face criminal prosecution.

So what that looked like was women. Again, potentially pro life women who had spent a lot of time, had had a lot of anxiety I am sure with either pregnancy loss or inability to get pregnant, spent a lot of money, and had to go through multiple shots in order to stimulate their ovaries, They were thinking, Oh, tomorrow I’m going to go to my art, my fertility clinic.

They’ve already gone through weeks to months to years of anguish if you’ve been through it. I’m going to go tomorrow and get my eggs harvested so that we can create embryos with my husband’s sperm. And then we’re going to have those embryos put back in a couple of weeks so that we can get pregnant.

They had to literally be told overnight, Nope, we’re canceling your cycle. That’s devastating.

Julie Holton: And how many of those couples were on their last, at their last chance, right? How many of those couples, how many of those men had gone through chemotherapy and only had a limited, extremely limited supply to begin with?

Right. How many, how many of those, like you said, pro lifers are unable now to have children? Right.

Dr. Shieva Ghofrany: Or by the way, what if it was a pro lifer’s daughter who’s 15, who was just diagnosed with cancer? Needs to have chemotherapy quickly, but luckily because of medical science and intervention was offered in not in vitro, because let’s assume that they’re not married at 15, though they might be in certain states, but they were offered the ability to stimulate their ovaries, to get eggs, to freeze their eggs, to preserve their future fertility because the chemotherapy is potentially going to impact their ability to get pregnant on their own in the future.

Sorry, you can’t do it. And now those girls. Had to make the decision as to whether or not they would move ahead with chemotherapy without having harvested their eggs or delay, thinking maybe the Supreme Court in Alabama is going to give them some kind of reprieve here, and then actually delay their chemotherapy in order to retrieve eggs.

How is that pro life? So again, I ask all of the Republican pro life women there, out there, just call us, talk to us, tell us, how is this pro life? You can continue to say that you would never have an elective abortion even if there was an anomaly. And I actually believe you. I’m not one of those people who’s like, Well, you don’t know what you do until you’re there.

I think some people do know what they would do. I think some don’t, but some do. And I believe them. And I, and I honor that. If you choose to have a child with a birth anomaly, I actually truly, truly honor that, just like I would honor if you choose not to. Because that is the true definition of being pro choice, and me being a physician who honors that.

They’re patient and has shared decision making, but you as the pro life person out there. And this gets back to when we were talking about trad wife, you are not honoring other people’s choices at all. And you are absolutely diminishing the true role that I believe if Christ were here today, he would say, let us honor every single person’s desire and intention as long as they are not harming anyone else.

And he would never define termination of an embryo that could not live alone as harming someone. He would value the person carrying that embryo as a fully realized life. And so I feel like I agree with everything you keep saying, which is like, I don’t get it. I don’t get it. And so the only thing that makes sense is control.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: I also reach back to

no one is forcing you. In, I would say, generally speaking, to have an abortion, there are obviously some cases of individuals where that is the case. And I, I am sorry for those people who are being, who have been dragged, but I don’t know if that is a large number of cases. What I do know is if you are pro life and again, I, like you, I hate that term too.

But if you are pro life, no one grabbed you by the arm, strapped you down, and said we’re terminating your pregnancy. Mm hmm. Yet you want a say in every other woman’s ability to make a choice for herself. You want to force a person to proceed with a pregnancy. So tell me, who are you actually here to? For and helping what are you right?

Why is that life more? Why is why is that embryo? Why is that embryo and why is it that what you want is supposed to be forced on everybody else? Pro choice is exactly that your choice to do what you need, want to do for your world, your personal circle between you, your partner, your medical professional.

My neighbor has nothing to do with my personal decision. My congressman. My senator, my president, none of them have a single thing to do with my personal medical choices. So again, piggyback again on what you said before, we’re a group of individuals who claim to be about individual rights and keeping the government and everybody out of our stuff.

Stay out of our lives while you sure are knee deep into womb deep into my life now.

Dr. Shieva Ghofrany: And again, even if let’s say what we’re saying sounds harsh and the rebuttal would be, well, I mean, it’s not just your choice. You are ending a life. Let’s again, let’s, let’s say that we’re on the same page, that it is ending a life, even though it’s really only potentially, but let’s say we’re ending a life.

Then let us work together. Let us minimize the need for abortion. Like I said, education and access to contraception. And by the way, red states, let’s expand access to Medicaid so that those people whose lives you so care about really, really can actually birth safely. and actually have access to care for their children.

But those very states, ironically, are also minimizing access to Medicaid. So the children being born in those states are not even always covered by insurance. The mothers are not covered necessarily by insurance. Ironically, Connecticut, which is very blue and allows you, we have a very expanded Medicaid.

So the minute you get pregnant, you essentially, if you didn’t have private insurance, You will qualify for Medicaid, as will your child, but the red states aren’t doing that. So I think that we all would feel less angry and thinking it’s absurd if the red states actually would work with us and say, let’s all agree.

This is right now, let’s call it. And I know there’s a lot of actually, um, abortion rights activists who don’t like this terminology, but I w I feel comfortable saying it’s okay for us to call it. A necessary evil. Yes, abortion is healthcare. And yes, I believe that. But let’s say it’s a necessary evil because nobody really wants to willfully stop a pregnancy again, unless there’s a real reason.

But it’s a necessary evil. I’ll use that term in this case. I will acknowledge that some people will be angry about that. But in that necessary evil, let’s work to minimize it much like I would say our prison system. Nobody really wants prison, right? We only want it because there is evil out there that we believe the prison system will somehow Dissuade, which obviously is a flawed system and it does not dissuade it, but okay, so let’s consistently say none of us want an abortion, let’s all work together, but that is not what the Republican party is doing.

So again, please, please, please pro life people come and tell us. Why are you not doing that if you’re so in support of life?

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: Jules, we didn’t even get into the foster care system.

Julie Holton: I want to come back to, as we, as we, um, we could talk about this all day and, and, and we, and we will, and we should, and we will continue these conversations, right?

So I’m also not, I’m not. I don’t want to end this early either. Um, but I want to come back to as we start to find a way to wrap this up today. I want to come back to something you said in the very beginning, which is you made a comment about how you don’t want to bring politics into this. You’re not, you’re not looking to be involved in politics.

And so, I want to come back to this idea of the political system and where this is coming from, because I think it’s really important for all women, all of our listeners, no matter where you are on that political spectrum, to think about where this idea is coming from and what could be. Open yourself to what could be.

At the root cause of this entire debate, because we’re we’re debating about health care, right? We’re talking about health care for women and for potential life. And, and life. So let’s go back and explore, you know, do your research and look into why is this a political topic? Why is this something that Republicans are championing?

What is their goal? Is the goal medical? Is the goal something else? I, I follow, um, uh, someone named Nate Silver, and I encourage you People who like data and statistics to look and donate. Um, I heard him speak at a conference a couple years ago. And I found it fascinating and I’m going to totally butcher what he was talking about because the only thing I actually really remember is he talked about the polarization of this country and how it is to the benefit of those in power to keep its people from polarized to keep us at odds with each other.

That is how they remain in power. And I don’t mean to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but if you look at this debate, if you look at women hit it against women, women who are on both sides of this pro choice anti abortion argument, women who are very loving and nurturing and amazing, incredible women who are fighting each other about this topic, that’s not who we are.

So why are we being forced to be on opposite sides of anything? So I don’t know how you guys feel about this, but I just feel like, you know, reached to your point about power and control, you know, it’s almost like, One day some men were sitting around and they said, well, you know what? Like these women are really getting out of hand.

Like they can vote now. They’re, they’re, they’re, they’re not the, the meal’s not ready. When I come home, they’re keeping their own name. What can we do about this? Oh, I know. Let’s get them to fight with each other. Cause maybe they’re too busy fighting with each other. We can take over. They’re not paying attention to what’s happening.

Dr. Shieva Ghofrany: And, and one more quick court case to touch upon, you know, the, the case in Texas where, recently, this was actually a week before, I think, the Alabama IVF, um, case, a man, it was documented, and he was found guilty, that he gave his wife, he tried on six occasions to give his wife that misoprostol, that medication that I talked about, that we use to make the uterus contract, he didn’t want her to have a baby, she wanted to keep the baby, So he tried to abort the pregnancy on six occasions.

It was documented on video. She found the medication wrappers. He was found guilty. Do you know what his, his sentence was? In a state where, by the way, the woman and her doctor and potentially anyone who offered her help to get an abortion would have been criminally prosecuted. He got 180 days in jail and zero fine.

By trying to willfully kill her embryo. As well as potentially harm her during the pregnancy. So again, to all the pro adventurers. There’s the example of the case, the few cases that I was saying. I’m sure there were a few and you named one just then. Yeah. But isn’t that interesting? How the man got hardly any, right, right.

Doctors and women are facing 15 years in Louisiana and he got 180 days. So to Julie’s point, ask yourself, is this really about life? Is this really, really, really, really, really about the fact that an embryo is life and that is what you’re trying to protect at all costs above everything else? First of all, even that, I would say, is misguided.

I would say to any woman out there, if you say, Well, I get that she doesn’t want to have the baby, and I get that she can’t afford it, and I get all that, but it’s a life, and we have to protect it. But that doesn’t make sense when you are literally trading one life for another. But furthermore, it’s clearly not about life, because this woman was, her life, her very fully realized life, was potentially very much harmed, as was her embryo.

That you claim you want to protect, and yet her husband, barely, he got a slap on the wrist. Listen,

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: Shiva, we’re going to have to have you back and get into even more of this and other aspects of it. Your knowledge is amazing. Your energy is amazing. And I thank you for presenting it in a way so that individuals, before getting angry and frustrated.

I could just hear what you’re saying. You support a woman, the women who, who are all about for their terms pro life. You get that and you’re asking them, well then join my conversation so that we can come up with a way that is realistic, not 1900, but realistic today. to help this entire situation. But we are not done with you yet.

Very quickly. We finish up all of our shows with what we call a rapid fire questions. So are you ready? I’m ready. Okay. Question number one, what advice would you give to any young aspiring leaders, women leaders?

Dr. Shieva Ghofrany: Well, touching upon what Julie said, rapid fire, align with other women. We do so well when we align with each other and align across the board.

I don’t think it’s a conspiracy theory to say that people in power do better when we are fractured. I don’t even think they even realize that they’re willfully doing it. I think it’s just the nature of like, I need to win the vote and therefore I have to take down the other person and taking down the other person.

There’s more of a divide. Instead of that, let’s recognize where we can all align. I can sit next to millions of women, some of whom are my best friends from college because I went to a Jesuit college who are against abortion. They’re my best friends and I love them and I, I adore them because the political situation has gotten worse.

There is increased tension, but we could all align each other. So women who want to be in positions of power, be honest, be kind, be gracious. And align with each other to truly help each other and truly listen and not just, I mean, I say this all the time, if politics were run by women, I really do believe it would be better because we wouldn’t just be like, I’m just pro life and that’s it.

We would say, okay, I am pro life and you’re pro choice, so let’s work together and let’s figure out a way to just minimize the need for abortion. I mean, it really could be as simple and kind and gracious as that. Let’s work together.

Julie Holton: Is there a book, a quote, a resource that you can point to that has had a significant impact on your journey?

Dr. Shieva Ghofrany: Ah, is there, is there a book? There is not one single book. I mean, there’s so many books, especially because it sounds funny, but I have a very, very non religious spiritual side. And so there are many books that I’ve read. I would say one, and this is my own quote, so I’m going to say this quote. One quote that, that pervades how I feel about everything in life is, Nothing is ever only, everything is always and.

I truly believe there is nothing that is one or the other. Abortion is not good or bad. It is kind of this entity that has good aspects to it and terrible aspects to it. You know, Republicans are not all good or bad. Guns are not all good or bad. They’re kind of mostly bad, but they’re not all bad, right?

There is nothing in our world that is black or white. Being a mother? Not being a mother. Being married? Not being married. Breastfeeding? Bottle feeding. Vaginal birth? C section. I mean, the list goes on and on and on. Nothing is ever only. And I think if we could really realize that, we would not have to be so binary.

But our world is made of soundbites now, even more than before. And it is so binary. Vaccines, all bad, all good. They’re neither. Vaccines are amazing and they have bad, bad parts of them, but the net net is that they are amazing. So I say that all the time and you can have, and you have horrible and this other thing is horrible and it is not, but, or it is.

And two or two things can be true simultaneously and they have to be true for us to accept life. Yeah, exactly.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: What would you tell your younger self? Oops. As I bumped my, my microphone, what would you tell your younger self if you were willing to listen?

Dr. Shieva Ghofrany: Oh, I mean my, what I would tell my younger self the most, most, most has to do with my weight actually.

I mean, I look back, I joke, I would love to be the weight I was. I would cut off my toes to be the way that I was when I thought I was fat back in high school. So there’s a lot of things I would tell my, my psyche on so many levels, but especially with regard to weight. Oh my gosh. I would say like, your weight is fine.

It is what it is. And don’t, don’t let yourself feel so bad about it. That then gets really out of hand because that’s what happened with me. And I think that’s what happens with a lot of women. Uh, I think that, you know, weight is a whole nother conversation. We could have 10, 000 podcasts about and our psyche.

And frankly, The patriarchal aspects that have dripped into weight. And by the way, I always say, I don’t want to only blame the men. The matriarchy supports the patriarchy. And so my younger self, I would say, yes, your thighs are a little bit bigger than your friends and that’s okay. When you get older, those bigger thighs are actually going to be a little bit more popular.

So go with your butt and your thighs.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: Steve, I thank you so much for being on the show. Oh, it has been an absolute pleasure having you. I know for Julie, this was a conversation we had been itching to have,

Julie Holton: and thank you for the work you’re doing to educate and to eliminate fear where it can be eliminated.

One, one last quick question. I just have. Women who want to have a voice, or women who have listened to this, and they say, Okay, what’s next? Now what? What can we do?

Dr. Shieva Ghofrany: I mean, you can honestly, there’s a lot of great websites. The Guttmacher Institute is a great website. You can go on there and really, really learn facts.

I mean, it really is facts. You can support some of the programs. Planned Parenthood is not only about abortion, by the way. Planned Parenthood, which needs, like, we Planned Parenthood can always use money, but Planned Parenthood is there for reproductive justice and rights, which has more to do, more than abortion.

It has to do with getting screening tests, like pap smears, mammograms, things like that, so you can support Planned Parenthood. And the truth is, you can actually vote. And I hate to say this, because I don’t want it to be political, but it has to be political, because now they’ve made it political. They’ve made it political.

Vote for the people who are actually going to try to help you, and this is not to say that I think all the Democrats are perfect either, nothing is ever only, everything is always and, I think we could have another conversation about how we feel politically about all of it, but Nat, Nat. As it stands right now, if we have a Democrat in office, our actual bodily harm will be minimized.

So if you care about your own body and your daughter’s or sister’s or niece’s bodies, Then, unfortunately, this is political, and you have to vote for the Democrats. I wish it weren’t so. I wish we could all be independent. I wish we could all say, I’m going to really look at the individuals. But the Republican Party has staked its claim, and its claim is, we are not allowing you to be in charge of your body.


Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: Period explanation point, and we will close right on that excellent, excellent point. Thank you again. She’s coming back folks. We are going to definitely have her back, but, uh, for now, thank you so much for tuning into the podcast. Please be sure to subscribe and to like the show and share it with your friends.

But for now, that’s going to do it for this episode of think tank of three.