Abortion Legislation Longest in Memory – Indianapolis Business Journal

The intent of this column is to give readers a look at the results of Indiana’s abortion law from a doctor’s perspective; it’s not about taking a stand on the pro-life, pro-choice debate.

This legislation is considered one of the most restrictive in the country because it prohibits abortion from zero weeks of gestation. But it allows certain exceptions for the protection of the health and life of the mother, fetal anomalies, incest and rape.

Indiana’s abortion bill is the most significant piece of legislation enacted in memory. But unfortunately, it was rushed through. Public testimony was cut short. And lawmakers should have given doctors and other medical professionals more time to thoroughly and thoughtfully study the ramifications of the legislation.

The bill presented was pretty much a done deal, only tweaked around the edges before it passed. Lawmakers have been largely deaf to the long procession of doctors who have testified to the high potential for unintended consequences and who have offered solutions to mitigate potential problematic outcomes.

By law, abortions involving rape and incest must be performed at 10 weeks gestation or earlier. Especially for children, it takes longer to identify pregnancy due to delayed diagnosis due to unconsciousness, concealment of pregnancy due to bullying or shame, irregular menstrual cycles, denial and rationalization.

Although there may be confusion due to the inconsistent wording of the bill, the law allows abortion throughout the entire pregnancy to protect the health and life of the mother. However, the legislation’s use of a standard of “reasonable medical judgment” for this determination is problematic, as it is subject to interpretation.

What is Reasonable Medical Judgment? Which conditions are legitimate risks for the mother? When is the disease serious enough to justify termination of pregnancy? In addition, a certificate with clinical documentation must first be filed with the hospital to justify the termination. I can’t find any provision for emergency situations that require immediate action.

There is an exception when “the fetus is diagnosed with a fatal fetal abnormality”, defined as a condition which, with reasonable certainty, results in death no more than three months after birth. “Reasonable certainty” is subject to opinion and clinical variability, as is life expectancy for a specific condition.

My concerns above largely stem from the inclusion of criminal doctor crime prosecution. The ban on abortion from zero weeks of gestation creates many other potentially illegal situations. Non-physicians, some of whom have political or philosophical agendas, will question and challenge physicians who act responsibly, based on evidence, and in good faith. Responsibility for physicians rests with the Indiana Medical Licensing Board, not the criminal court.

Physicians may be reluctant to act or refrain from treating in emergency situations, weighing their duty as doctors against criminal prosecution. Criminality should be a matter of intent and only for gross and flagrant violations. Such punitive, adversarial and restrictive legislation will have a chilling effect on the practice of midwifery. Access to maternity care and Indiana’s already high maternal/infant mortality rates will suffer.

The General Assembly admirably enacted accompanying legislation that provides much-needed funding, especially for low-income families, in support of healthy pregnancies, infants, children, families and adoption. . Allocations total $75 million, including $45 million for the creation of the Family First Fund. More will be needed.

The pro-life commitment should not stop when the baby is born.•


Feldman is a family physician, author, speaker, and former commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health for Governor Frank O’Bannon. Send your comments to [email protected]

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