Indiana Abortion Ban Goes Into Effect, Leaving Physicians Exploring Other Options

The bill bans abortion in nearly all circumstances, as clinics can no longer be state-licensed

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An Indiana bill that banned abortion in nearly all circumstances officially took effect Thursday, leaving doctors with the difficult choice of whether to leave the state or to maintain clinics that can only offer diminished services.

Dr. Katie McHugh, an Indiana OB-GYN, is taking the abortion side of her medical practice out of the Hoosier State after the bill took effect.

“I feel very disenchanted and very targeted as my state villainizes the profession that I was trained to do here,” she said. “(It) criminalizes me as a physician providing abortion care.”

Under provisions of the new law, abortion is banned in all stages of pregnancy, with limited exceptions. Those include a provision that allows the procedure if continued pregnancy poses a serious health risk to the woman, up to 20 weeks post-fertilization, according to the text of the bill.

Another provision allows for an abortion in the event that lethal fetal medical conditions are detected within that 20-week window.

Abortions can also be sought if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, but those are limited to the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Abortion clinics are no longer state-licensed, and as a result, the procedure can only be performed in a licensed hospital or in an outpatient surgical center that is owned by a hospital.

The bill was passed in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, which overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States.

Protesters marched on Indiana’s state house over the summer, but the bill passed and has now gone into effect.

As a result of the bill, Indiana clinics are now directing patients out of state, including to Illinois, but organizations like Right to Life are fighting for legislation to ban that practice.

Dr. Caroline Rouse, an OBGYN specialist at Indiana University, disagrees with that push and hopes lawmakers will reject further legislation.

“We know that an abortion is health care. It is safe. It can be life-saving,” she said.

The legal battle over the bill still rages on even after it took effect. On Monday, a court hearing is scheduled over a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood, which would seek to overturn the ban.

“We’re in this for the long haul, as are many of the other providers in the state, and so if there are legal options, and legal avenues to follow, we will follow them,” McHugh said.

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