Legal Experts and Doctors Concerned About Indiana Abortion Bill

INDIANAPOLIS — As a proposal to ban abortion moves through the entire Indiana Senate, some legal experts and doctors are raising concerns.

The bill advancing at the Statehouse prohibits abortion at any time during pregnancy, except in cases of rape, incest or substantial risk to the health of the mother.

On Tuesday, lawmakers passed an amendment adding criminal penalties for doctors. Any abortion that does not fall within the permitted exceptions would be a Level 5 felony. Doctors who perform an illegal abortion could face one to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

“Doctors won’t know in real time when they’re practicing and providing health care what they’re allowed to do under this law,” said Ashley Hadler, an attorney at the Indianapolis law firm Garau Germano.

Hadler said the current legislation is “vague” and doesn’t elaborate on what is legal and what isn’t.

“We know in the cases I deal with, the civil medical malpractice cases, that reasonable doctors can disagree about what the standard of care requires,” Hadler said.

Dr Alison Case, a family doctor who performs medical abortions and supports abortion access, said she was concerned the legislation could make doctors hesitant in certain situations.

“They might feel…that they need to delay care because of concerns about this criminality rather than do the right thing for the pregnant person and treat them immediately,” Dr Case said.

Dr Christina Francis, CEO-elect of the pro-life American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, says concerns about delays or unwarranted lawsuits are “unfounded”.

Dr Francis said she supports adding criminal penalties to the bill, but would also like to see more specific rules included in the exception for maternal health, as well as a review process for doctors.

“We know how to identify… when his clinical condition begins to change in such a way that he could be in a life-threatening situation, even if he is not currently facing death,” Dr Francis said.

The entire Indiana Senate will consider amendments to the abortion bill on Thursday.

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