INDIANAPOLIS — With Indiana’s law banning most abortions set to go into effect Sept. 15, Indiana University Health, the state’s largest hospital system, has set up a “Rapid Response Team to help her doctors seek advice on whether they can legally perform an abortion. to protect the mother’s health and other situations.
“We know this is new territory for many of our providers,” said Dr. David Ingram, Chief Medical Officer of IU Health. “And it certainly heightened the anxiety about whether they’re making the right decisions.”
He said the rapid response team would be available 24 hours a day and would consist of three people: a doctor or other clinical specialist, a lawyer and a member of an ethics team.
Last year, IU Health performed 53 abortions, less than 1% of the total 8,414 abortions performed in Indiana, according to Indiana Department of Health figures.
The vast majority of abortions in Indiana were performed at seven independent clinics owned by Planned Parenthood and three independent operators. Under the new law, abortions can only be performed in hospitals or hospital-owned outpatient centers, which means that all abortion clinics will lose their license.
“We will continue to provide abortion care, legal abortion care, in our state, through our system for our patients who need it,” said Dr. Caroline Rouse, obstetrician-gynecologist and director Maternity Services Department at IU Health. “We know abortion is safe. It is evidence-based. We will continue to provide this care within the parameters of the new law. »
Indiana’s Republican-dominated legislature approved tougher abortion restrictions on Aug. 5, making it the first state to do so since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down federal protections against abortion. Abortion by Annulling Roe v. Wade in June.
Indiana law includes some narrow exceptions: allowing abortions for rape and incest before 10 weeks after fertilization; protect the life and physical health of the mother; and if a fetus is diagnosed with a fatal abnormality.
Any doctor found guilty of performing an illegal abortion would be stripped of their state medical license and could face criminal charges that carry up to six years in prison.
IU Health officials said they set up an “incident command structure” to review dozens of possible issues arising from the new law, in which 60 of its top leaders participated.
Ingram and Rouse said that in cases where doctors cannot legally abort, they can refer patients to states where abortion is legal.
Last year, IU Health doctors performed 39 abortions at Methodist Hospital, 19 at Riley Hospital for Children (which includes maternity care), three at University Hospital and one at West Hospital in Avon.