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While most people think of the overturning of Roe v. Wade as being about abortion, that’s only part of the story. In addition to having a significant impact on abortion clinics in a number of states, the change also affects doctors who provide fertility services such as IVF. That means medical professionals are having to think more like attorneys than doctors, and they’re creating new protocols to reduce their risks.
With vague exceptions and the chance of prison time, doctors can’t be too careful about how they handle the changes to the law. They’re looking at the guidelines for their state, and seeing what kinds of laws and regulations have been revived by the overturning of the federal law that legalized abortion and gave women a right to choose.
One of the biggest issues is whether doctors can abort a fetus when the mother’s life is in danger. While most states do still allow for this, determining where to draw the line and determine that abortion is necessary is an area that can get doctors into legal trouble. Six years in prison is the punishment for an “unnecessary” abortion in some states, so doctors are getting attorneys on call to address legal issues before medical ones where pregnant women are concerned.
Pregnant cancer patients are also now having to wait until they become sicker before they can be treated, because standard treatment was to abort the fetus first, instead of starting treatment that could cause harm to it. Now, doctors are required to make sure women are “sick enough” to argue that they would die if they did not have an abortion and start cancer treatment.
While doctors clearly just want to help their patients, they’re having to make sure that they also help themselves and reduce their own risks of prison and other punishments. That’s creating a difficult place for doctors, and also denying medical care and options to women who truly need it.
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