Doctors worry abortion restrictions could impact care for expectant mothers

The decision to overturn Roe v. Wade raises medical and legal questions. Many women and doctors are grappling with the impact and what it means for the care of expectant mothers.

The ruling halted access to abortion immediately in Texas, leaving many doctors unsure about what to do when a woman has a miscarriage or other pregnancy complication.

Dr. John Thoppil is the president of the Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He said the ruling could impact how doctors treat high-risk scenarios like ectopic pregnancy, which is when the fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus and requires as fast response to save the mother.

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It also raises questions about the abortion pill. It is authorized by the Federal Drug Administration for use within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy but Texas law bans mailing it into the state.

Dr. Thoppil said the medication is prescribed by doctors in other scenarios, not just abortion. He’s worried about the unintended consequences of the ruling.

"We do prescribe Misoprostol for induction of labor, pre-procedure, for treatment of miscarriage. So, these are the kinds of things we worry about if pharmacists refuse to fill it with concern for the purpose that we’re writing it for. So, there’s a lot of concern for how things are going to be interpreted based upon the ruling," he said.

"First of all, medication abortion is the great limit on the anti-abortion state’s ability to control this. If medication is readily available and can be used to terminate pregnancies, that’s going to be harder for those states to police. Some states have tried to ban shipments into the state. Whether they will succeed is up to the courts," added attorney Joanna Grossman.

Grossman also predicts legal battles over whether women can cross state lines to get an abortion. She said many states like Texas will likely try to criminalize those who help the woman get there as opposed to going after the out-of-state provider.

Dr. Thoppil said the ruling could also impact training. He believes medical students will have to travel out-of-state to learn abortion care and how to properly handle miscarriages and other serious pregnancy complications.