Medical exemption to ban abortion does not protect women’s health

After the Supreme Court ruling in June Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned Law vs Wade (1973) A number of state-triggering bans were implemented, abolishing the constitutional right to abortion. As of August 25, 13 states have effectively banned or severely restricted access to abortion. However, both of these laws contain provisions that allow doctors to perform abortions in the event of a medical emergency. Politicians argue that these provisions prevent women from dying.

However, many doctors and abortion rights activists counter that the provisions are unclear and insufficient to protect pregnant women and practitioners. is showing.

The question is how we define a medical emergency and who can define it.Previous Law vs Wade, most states have allowed abortions for medical emergencies or when necessary. However, court records show that many doctors, nurses and midwives have been tried and convicted of performing abortions after the legal system dismissed claims about medical necessity. Prosecutors, judges, and juries decided what was medically necessary, not doctors and patients. Physicians were left to the whims of the legal system to make the best medical decisions.

For example, in 1921 Belby Duncan, a married 23-year-old mother of two, asked Dr. Herbert E. Johnson of Jefferson City, Missouri, for an abortion. According to Duncan and her husband, she had suffered for months after her bout with typhoid fever, which left her very thin and bedridden. She could hardly take care of her two children. Her husband agreed that she could not give birth safely, so the couple visited Johnson, who agreed she was unwell and had the procedure done. A connection was made, treatment was needed, and Johnson was arrested for felony abortion.

The accusations symbolize the frequent arrests of doctors by authorities during this period when abortion led to infections and deaths. In general, if an abortion was performed safely, prosecutors either did not know about the procedure or did no harm to the patient and chose to look the other way. It was a different story.

Johnson claimed that Duncan was “so anemic and so weak” that he was forced to have an abortion. JE Jose, who had previously cared for Duncan but hadn’t seen her in over a year, took care of Duncan after her surgery, testifying that “she was very healthy,” and that her health was in jeopardy. He told jurors, “Young women, like family members … are more nervous as a general rule … Some women are more nervous each time they become pregnant,” thus making it more difficult for her to be concerned about her health. Her testimony was unreliable. Jose admitted that “there are no specific rules you can set” to determine when an abortion is necessary to save a woman’s life, but Duncan did not agree with her. He claimed that fears about his health were a sign of “delusion”. They did so based on Jose’s reputation as a doctor and Jose’s reports that she felt better after treating her infection. Additionally, Duncan had successfully delivered two children before her, so the three doctors argued it was unlikely she was suffering from a life-threatening emergency during her third pregnancy. .

Despite Duncan and her husband testifying about her poor health in the months prior to the abortion, and Johnson claiming she was in poor health, a jury found a felony abortion. It convicted the doctor, and the state’s Supreme Court upheld his conviction.

Ultimately, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that it was unreliable to determine whether Duncan’s health was endangered by her pregnancy. , agreed with the prosecutor’s opinion that her poor health was merely a “delusion.” Additionally, they said Johnson may have reason to lie to Duncan about her health to avoid a hefty fine, but Jose would not.

The case reveals how doctors can easily distinguish on the line between emergency and emergency medical situations, and how doctors can perform abortions at legal risk. Despite the lack of , I had to determine where the boundaries were. These cases made it clear that courts would simply not trust the judgment of a doctor who, after examining a patient, determined that her condition required an abortion. In addition, there were not always clear guidelines for courts to follow.

Today, states are seeking to more clearly define what constitutes a medical emergency under a trigger ban. It is a condition that greatly complicates the medical condition of pregnant women and necessitates immediate abortion during pregnancy to avoid pregnancy.” Death, or delay, of a pregnant woman creates a serious risk of substantial and irreversible disability in any major bodily function of the pregnant woman. , argues that there is no need to fear.

But while politicians believe this definition is clear, doctors argue that making such medical judgments is more complicated than many politicians realize. Physician Lisa Harris wondered “how imminent death must be” to meet the criteria under the Missouri definition. Is the likelihood or probability of future serious complications sufficient?

History tells us that this lack of clarity means that judges and juries, not doctors, decide what constitutes a medical emergency. and may endanger the patient. This is why the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have ruled in the Supreme Court that banning abortion forces clinicians to “make an impossible choice between upholding ethical obligations and complying with the law.” That’s why I argued that it would. To the extent that doctors have to worry about potential legal implications, they get bogged down in this conundrum, which can have devastating consequences for some women.

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