In roundtable talk, Georgia doctors call abortion law ‘extreme’

The Atlanta City Council voted unanimously on Aug. 1 to donate $300,000 to the abortion fund.
The Atlanta City Council voted unanimously on Aug. 1 to donate $300,000 to the abortion fund.
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 2:26 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Weeks after the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, a group of medical providers in Georgia are continuing to call the state’s abortion law extreme.

In a roundtable Thursday evening promoted by the Democratic Party, they talked about how this will hurt patients and how doctors will have to walk a fine line so they don’t face criminal penalties.

Georgia’s Heartbeat Law went into effect about three weeks ago. It started immediately after a federal appeals court overturned a lower court ruling from 2019.

“Patients would come to clinics that very morning to receive healthcare and had to be sent home that afternoon because the care they came for was no longer legal,” said Dr. Michelle Au, an anesthesiologist.

The group of doctors ranging from OBGYN’s to forensic psychiatrists said many pregnancies aren’t even detected at the six week mark. They said the law is not based on medical science, especially when a woman comes in at 15 weeks and their water breaks.

“Our hands are tied,” said Dr. Megan Cohen, an OB/GYN. “These people are at risk of infection, sepsis, death...if we don’t intervene.”

“Is it easy to distinguish? A miscarriage at about seven weeks versus a medication abortion?” asked Au.

“No,” the group replied.

“We know the treatment in terms of medication abortion treatment and miscarriage management and it is the exact same thing,” said Dr. Tiffany Hailstorks, an OB/GYN.

A bigger problem they pointed out is how the law will impact mental health.

“Women are left in this situation where they feel hopeless. They’re stuck with a pregnancy that maybe was unintended that they may not have adequate social support,” said Dr. Kelly Coffman, a reproductive and forensic psychiatrist.

They said there are too many unknowns and doctors are left to figure it out.

“At what point would you consider a case emergency enough to skirt prosecution, criminal liability, civil liability, loss of your medical license you’ve worked so hard for under this law?” said Dr. Au.

Hailstorks replied: “I think that’s the part that we don’t know.”

Physicians were also concerned that people won’t want to come to Georgia to provide care, adding to the shortage they already have in the health care system.

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