Louisiana Doctors Warn Abortion Ban May Force Them To Be Death Panelists
Louisiana is one of several states that has an abortion "trigger" law designed to ban virtually all abortions as soon as the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. In fact, lawmakers in Louisiana, like those in a bunch of red states, were so thrilled at the prospect of criminalizing abortion (and competing to pass the strictest law) that they passed multiple trigger laws. They're currently on hold from going into effect, following a temporary injunction in a lawsuit brought by women's healthcare providers.
As in most states, Louisiana's trigger laws do include exemptions that purport to allow abortions that are necessary to protect pregnant people from death or severe injury if the pregnancy continued, but the lawsuit argues that the exceptions are too vaguely defined — and, because of the multiple laws, outright confusing — to actually provide any guidance to healthcare providers, who risk going to jail for years and paying enormous fines if they provide care that's later determined to have been illegal. Keep in mind that the vagueness is the point, to prevent as many abortions as possible, regardless of the death toll among women, who only count as baby delivery systems anyway.
Tuesday, a group of Louisiana healthcare providers filed a set of affidavits (PDF link) explaining that because the laws are so vaguely written, there's serious danger that doctors may in many cases decide to delay or deny care if they feel they might end up in prison for treating a patient who's not quite in enough crisis to meet the vague and contradictory standards in the trigger laws. If you have some time, just read through a few of them — they're chilling.
The Washington Post's Greg Sargent (free gift link!) summarizes several of the affidavits, and since the PDF doesn't want to let us copy-paste from it, we'll go with Sargent's excerpts here. The running theme in the affidavits is that the trigger laws will force healthcare providers to weigh their oaths to do no harm against their understandable desire to stay out of prison and keep providing healthcare. And no matter what abortion opponents may claim, the dividing line between medically necessary emergency treatment and godless fetus-murder is not necessarily clear, particularly when the laws are intentionally vague:
[An] emergency room practitioner testifies that medical emergencies related to pregnancy will be much harder to evaluate. Medical pros will be working “under threat of prosecution for making critical, lifesaving decisions about how to treat patients with dangerous pregnancies and miscarriages.”
Still another warns that doctors will be reluctant to direct patients to seek emergency treatment amid pregnancy complications, for fear of being accused of “attempting to induce abortion,” possibly resulting in patient death.
And one gynecologist testifies to the fear that doctors will feel forced to “refuse necessary, appropriate care to avoid prosecution.” She notes that it’s unthinkable that she may be forced to “choose between my patients and my liberty.”
And as we will keep repeating forever, ALL these laws are written to be as strict as possible, not to provide any clear standards of care but rather to prevent what rightwing legislators are absolutely certain will be doctors and patients "cheating" to sneak abortions past the law, because women and doctors are all deceitful baby killers who must be threatened with punishment. The Cult of the Fertilized Egg demands nothing less, and if there are some casualties, well that's to be expected in a holy war.
Joanna Wright, one of the attorneys in the Louisiana lawsuit, told Sargent that
“Such draconian laws in states with trigger bans or other abortion bans make it difficult if not impossible to provide a standard-of-care to women.” [...]
Doctors will “stop practicing in these states, and we will see a kind of emptying out of high-quality medical professionals who can render lifesaving care to women,” Wright told me. “Because they don’t want to practice under the threat of criminal prosecution and penalties.”
That's the point, after all: driving practitioners out of business, because they're butchers. If some women die or suffer horribly as a result, that's fine, since "life" is being protected. Please ignore the minor detail that in many of these cases, the fetus simply isn't viable either. Again, acceptable losses to the "Life" crowd.
Louisiana, of course, is just one of many states with "trigger" laws, or multiple trigger laws, so this issue isn't going away any time soon. There are going to be tons of lawsuits, both before the laws go into effect and far more as states attempt to enforce them. Doctors will be prosecuted for attempting to provide care for their patients, and patients will die because they or their doctors are frightened into delaying or forgoing a necessary medical treatment.
And Jesus Fucking Christ on an e-bike in the rain, we haven't even touched on the inevitable threat of "bounty hunter" lawsuits from randos in states like Texas, Idaho, or Oklahoma that enforce their abortion bans by allowing private lawsuits against anyone involved in providing abortions.
Maybe Canada will invade after all. Please?
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.