EXPLAINER: States scramble as US abortion landscape shifts

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Nearly three months after Roe v. Wade, the abortion access landscape continues to change significantly in some states, sometimes very rapidly.

The evolution of restrictions and litigation in neighboring Indiana and Ohio this week illustrates the whiplash for providers and patients who face sudden changes in what is allowed where.

Sister clinics that just weeks ago were sending patients from Ohio, where most abortions were banned, to Indiana, where the procedure…

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Nearly three months after Roe v. Wade, the abortion access landscape continues to change significantly in some states, sometimes very rapidly.

The evolution of restrictions and litigation in neighboring Indiana and Ohio this week illustrates the whiplash for providers and patients who face sudden changes in what is allowed where.

Sister clinics that just weeks ago sent patients from Ohio, where most abortions were banned, to Indiana, where the procedure was allowed, have now reversed roles after the roles were reversed. access restrictions from both states, at least temporarily.

Here’s a deeper look at the current state of the changing national landscape:

WHAT CHANGED THIS WEEK?

An Ohio judge on Wednesday blocked enforcement of the state’s ban on most abortions after fetal heart activity was detected. The ban had been in effect since shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe on June 24. The judge’s action allows abortions to resume in pregnancies up to 20 weeks gestation for 14 days.

Then on Thursday, a new Indiana law went into effect that bans most abortions, marking its status as the first state in the nation to approve new abortion restrictions since the High Court abortion ruling. . Republican Governor Eric Holcomb signed the ban on August 5.

Under the new law, abortions are only permitted in cases of rape and incest before 10 weeks after fertilization; protect the life and physical health of the patient; or if a fetus is diagnosed with a fatal abnormality. A physician who performs an illegal abortion or fails to file required reports must lose their medical license.

HOW DOES THIS AFFECT SUPPLIERS?

Indiana’s seven abortion clinics lost their licenses Thursday under the state’s new law, which allows abortions only in hospitals or hospital-owned outpatient surgical centers. More than 98% of abortions in the state were performed by these clinics in 2021.

State abortion clinics told The Associated Press they would remain open to refer patients out of state, including to neighboring Ohio.

“I thought today would be the worst day,” Dr. Katie McHugh, a provider at the Indianapolis Women’s Med abortion clinic, told the AP on Thursday. “But I think the worst day was yesterday, knowing that the patients we saw in the office yesterday were the last we would see, and knowing how much that meant to all of us who were there – the staff, the doctors and the patients – that we were able to provide this care until the last moment.

In Ohio, clinics were preparing to take in large numbers of patients from neighboring states following the judge’s ruling — though they realize that could be short-lived.

“Well, I didn’t expect it to be state-of-the-art,” said Iris Harvey, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, using new industry lingo. “For 14 days we could be.”

Clinics in Ohio that had been banned from performing most abortions will resume those services beginning Friday.

HOW DOES THIS AFFECT PATIENTS?

The changing legal landscape has forced patients in affected states to band together, sometimes multiple times. Kellie Copeland, executive director of Pro-Choice Ohio, an abortion rights group, said some were unable to terminate their pregnancies.

Harvey said Planned Parenthood has set up a central location for abortion requests and has hired additional staff, often social workers, to help people navigate state laws as they change.

Lawyers were still considering whether patients traveling from Indiana to Ohio could get something other than a surgical abortion. The two-pill regimen used in medical abortions would typically mean taking one pill in a permissive state and one in a restrictive state, the latter potentially breaking the law, providers said.

Anti-abortion groups continue to tout existing restrictions and new ones being enacted in states following the Supreme Court ruling.

“Ohio is pro-life and this law was supported by the people,” said Margie Christie, president of the Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio. “Women don’t need abortions in Ohio. We have abundant resources for mothers and their children to thrive.

WHEN WILL THE LANDSCAPE CHANGE AGAIN?

With Indiana’s ban taking effect, the country has 13 states currently banning abortion at any time during pregnancy and another, Georgia, banning abortions after fetal heart activity is detected. – usually about six weeks, often before women realize it. are pregnant.

Although yet to be signed by the governor, a ban approved by West Virginia lawmakers on Wednesday had already caused the state’s only abortion clinic to close, potentially pushing more patients to the hospital. Neighboring Ohio. Arizona’s ban is set to go into effect Sept. 24, with lawsuits and legislation expected to continue to change the status of certain states’ abortion access.

Then, on November 8, abortion-related measures will be on the ballots in at least five states. In California, Michigan and Vermont, voters will be asked to protect the right to abortion. In Kentucky, the question is whether to amend the state constitution to declare that it does not include the right to abortion. And Montana voters will decide on a measure requiring medical care for infants born alive after an attempted abortion.

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Journalist Geoff Mulvihill of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, contributed to this report. Arleigh Rodgers is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues. Follow Arleigh Rodgers on Twitter: @arleighrodgers

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