In states with laws that criminalize performing abortions, physicians are facing the dilemma of having to wait until a pregnant patient’s death is imminent to perform a potentially lifesaving procedure. Reporting from STAT News reveals how these laws are disrupting care. A physician in Missouri, which outlaws all abortions unless the life of the mother is in danger, described having to spend hours getting clearance from a hospital ethics team to perform the procedure on a patient with an ectopic pregnancy.
Even non-pregnancy care is being impacted. An arthritis patient taking methotrexate, which can also be used for abortion, was told by her doctor that all prescriptions for the drug are on pause due to legal uncertainty.
The Gist: Doctors and hospital legal counsel are dealing with a new legal landscape, marked by restrictive, ill-defined anti-abortion laws that fail to clarify what constitutes a medical emergency.
Physicians are forced to interpret unclear laws, often written without help from medical professionals, and many feel compelled to wait until patients are in dangerous, life-threatening situations to provide care—the opposite of what was instilled in them during years of training.