“Unequivocal nightmare:” Midwives / gynecologists fear insecurity, health care slows after Roe

Doctors struggling to save their patients’ lives are worried about new abortion documents and legal advice that would provide the necessary care for their patients.

Consulting with lawyers and keeping complex records is part of life now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Rowe v. Wade and Ohio has imposed a six-week ban on abortion.

“If (patients) are in the midst of a pregnancy loss and have a heart rhythm … then we need to do the same paperwork for someone who has had a planned abortion,” said Dr. Amy Burkett, an obstetrician / gynecologist. Northeast Ohio.

Doctors face potential criminal charges and risks for their medical licenses due to what they believe are unclear abortion regulations and specifications. In addition, changes in the health landscape at the national level and in Ohio are creating an environment in which physicians who know a pregnancy is not viable may need to watch a parent carry the pregnancy anyway.

“Being forced to go on the road is just an unequivocal nightmare, especially if you think that someone goes through a whole pregnancy against their will when they know that the fetus will die,” said Dr. David Hackney, a specialist in maternal fetal medicine. in the Cleveland area and chair of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist in Ohio.

Hackney, who works with high-risk pregnancies and diagnoses birth defects, said abortion bans could increase the complication rate of pregnancies only by increasing the number of pregnancies.

As Rowe v. Wade was overturned on Friday and Ohio enforced its six-week abortion ban, Hackney was on call and fell asleep that night, unsure of how to proceed with medical care the next day.

“It’s Friday night and suddenly the legal basis has changed completely under my feet,” Hackney said.

With cases that may include time-sensitive care and bleeding that needs to be treated urgently, Hackney said the lack of a plan could lead to distractions with dangerous effects on the health of babies and parents. Now this plan may have to include targeting other health systems and even other countries for legal opportunities.

“When it comes to many of these legal issues, the most important thing to have is a plan before something terrible happens,” Hackney said. “Even now we are still working out the details and trying to understand the processes.”

According to doctors, abortion bans can have an impact on pregnancy-related procedures, which also have nothing to do with abortion. Dr Tom Burwinkel, a reproductive endocrinologist who also works on in vitro fertilization, says bills such as HB 598 – a proposed complete ban on abortion in Ohio – could lead to legal confusion and obligations for embryo storage or handling facilities. these embryos.

Because the bill, which is currently before the House committee, says that an “unborn child” is defined at the time of fertilization, embryos that are damaged even accidentally or due to natural events in the IVF process can be detained against doctors. performing the work.

“If we have stored embryos and something happens to the liquid nitrogen tanks, are the doctors and people who own the facilities in danger of losing thousands of embryos?” Burwinkle posed.

Although in vitro fertilization has not been affected by the six-week ban on abortion, Burwinkle is worried about the future of IVF and other pregnancy drugs, as laws and bills in the state focus on ideological ideas about life rather than inclusive medicine.

“Obviously the legislature wants to take a step forward … and this is someone who imposes his religious beliefs on others. “I thought this country was based on religious freedom,” Burwinkle said.

The comments made by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in support of Rowe’s reversal against Wade give doctors an additional reason to worry about the future of gynecology, especially contraceptives.

Burkett said it was important for the public to understand that contraceptives are not considered abortion drugs, even when legislation can combine things like Plan B with abortion drugs, and there is misinformation linking the IUD to abortion.

“The Navy is not considered an abortion drug,” Burkett said. “Plan B is also not considered an abortion medicine. None of them are considered medical reasons for abortion. “

Misinformation about contraceptives not only affects the public, which may not have done enough research, but also part of the legislation sponsored by non-medical professionals who may not listen to the medical community. Hackney said ACOG representatives are always ready to serve as a resource for lawmakers.

“In general, most of this legislation happens without meaningful or certainly not basic medical care,” Hackney said.

Follow the OCJ Reporter Susan Theben on Twitter.

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