Beyond the Byline: Roe v. Wade ruling compromises patient safety

Mari, you talked to one of the executives at the American Medical Women’s Association and they went through a hypothetical scenario where eventually the Texas resident may have an OB-GYN that has never done an abortion. Take us through some of the potential impacts on training when it comes to abortion services and how that could impact health outcomes.

Mari Devereaux: Yeah, so several doctors and healthcare executives I spoke with have expressed concerns about what could now be a real possibility. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, nearly half of OBGYN residency programs and residents are located in states that have outlawed or are likely to outlaw abortions. This means that medical trainees in many of those states may no longer be able to learn how to perform abortion related procedures in a hands on training setting with licensed doctors. And in many cases of severe miscarriages, preeclampsia, or other high risk conditions. These types of services are essential and often even life saving. If physicians aren’t fully educated on performing abortions, or emptying the uterus, experts say it could lead to lower care quality and potentially life threatening health outcomes for patients.

Alex, we’re already seeing some legal challenges to states that have implemented trigger laws banning abortion. What have we seen so far?

Alex Kacik: On Monday, we already seen some legal movement where the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a petition and asked for an injunction halting Louisiana’s trigger laws on behalf of the family planning clinics. The state court granted them the injunction until the hearing set for July so they’re gonna have a waiting period over the next couple of weeks. That will still preserve access to these services. But at the same time this is going to factor in to patient care this is going to be in the back of their minds. So you have these outside influences that could potentially impact care.

And on the other side of things, we’re already seeing some legal moves from more aggressive “pro-life states.” Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita filed a request Monday to stop expansion plans for abortion providers in Evansville and South Bend. The Attorney General is also asking the courts to lift injunctions against several state abortion laws following the Supreme Court’s decision.

So we’ve got a while until these state courts grapple with these legal claims and challenges, and it will take some time for precedent to be set. But that being said, patients and physicians oftentimes are in the middle. So it’s unclear how they’ll adjust in the short-term.

One of your sources told you that clinics in New Jersey and New York were already seeing more patients coming for abortion care from states like Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania. How are they preparing for an influx of patients and what could be the potential consequences of having to travel further for care?

Mari Devereaux: In states where abortion is legal clinics are gearing up to hire more healthcare staff and gather resources in order to offer a higher number of abortion services. Some clinics and healthcare systems are looking for ways to partner with other facilities and states that outlaw abortion to help educate their patients on various options and provide them with easier care access. Others are looking into expanding telemedicine options for version services, or developing legal strategies to protect against certain restrictions in certain states. Still, even with all these efforts, the need to travel is a significant barrier to care for many individuals, depending on their socioeconomic background, and it disproportionately impacts communities of color.

Read more: With Roe v. Wade overturned, telehealth providers brace for impact

Traveling for abortion services can be expensive, and it’s hard for those with work or childcare responsibilities. The lack of immediate access to an abortion may also mean that patients won’t be able to undergo the procedure before it becomes illegal in nearly every state at field viability or at a determined number of weeks of pregnancy. Physicians say that waiting for an abortion leads patients to show up at clinics with more severe complications and high risk pregnancies than they normally would have.

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