“We are so limited by the law that it hinders our ability to care for our patients,” said Dr. Now Malhotra, a maternal fetal medicine physician.
INDIANAPOLIS – In just over a month, Indiana’s new abortion law will go into effect, passing one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the country.
Already, doctors around Indianapolis are warning that these restrictions will harm, even kill, pregnant people in the Hoosier State.
Across Indiana’s border in Ohio, many doctors say the state’s strict anti-abortion laws are already taking a toll on health care there.
“We are trying to do what is best for the patient. But we are so limited by the law that it hinders our ability to care for our patients,” said Dr. Now Malhotra, a maternal fetal medicine physician in Cleveland, Ohio. .
It’s been more than a month since Ohio Heartbeat Law entered the country, enacting a near-total abortion ban shortly after Roe v. Wade was overturned.
“Kapro fell on Friday and we have had these cases starting from Monday. As a high-risk pregnancy doctor, this is our day job, we’ve had this day in and day out,” said Malhotra.
law allows abortions to prevent death or serious risk of substantial and irreversible harm to the mother. This exemption is very similar to what Indiana’s new abortion law will allow.
But Malhotra said the language is vague, leaving doctors with little clarity on when they can legally act.
“Do they have to be actively in the process of really getting sick? In those cases, it’s been a little more clear. We’re able to call our lawyers and go ahead with the abortion. But if they’re not, if they” not immediately became ill, the law becomes extremely murky,” Malhotra said. “It’s not just weird, it’s unsafe. We’re delaying care in those cases where things are getting worse, where things are getting worse rapidly. And we’re saying, ‘ Okay, I know what to do, but wait a second, let me get in touch with a lawyer.’ And I can only imagine that in smaller hospitals, access is much more difficult and delays in care are much more significant.”
For women who are facing serious conditions but are not yet in active decline, Malhotra said when possible, they will go out of state, including to Indiana, to access the abortion care they are seeking. Back home in Ohio, instead of being able to make these decisions between doctor and patient, Malhotra said now they’re calling in lawyers to make sure they can legally provide lifesaving care, and that’s difficult.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Malhotra said. “These patients are already in precarious situations, they are upset, this is not what they had hoped for. They have continued their pregnancy, they wanted this, this was a wanted pregnancy, they are going through a complication and then we we’re telling them, ‘Wait, you’re just not sick enough for us to intervene yet.’ It’s just devastating.”
But exactly how serious and life-threatening a health threat must be before they can legally act is not clear.
“Should it be 25%, should it be 50%, or should it be 100%? she asked. “And by the time we’re waiting for someone to actively die before us, we’ve already made their outcomes significantly worse.”
Doctors in Ohio addressed this uncertainty soon after their state law took effect, Malhotra said.
Soon, doctors here in the Hoosier State will face the same challenges when Indiana’s abortion ban goes into effect next month.
“We swore to do no harm. But now, we’re waiting for enough harm to happen before we do what needs to be done to prevent them from being harmed,” Malhotra said.