A federal judge now holds Indiana House Enrolled Act 1211 in the balance. The law is Indiana’s contribution to the national effort to restrict access to safe abortions. By banning a safe and medically necessary method of second trimester abortion, it threatens both the health and constitutional rights of Hoosier women.
Like Alabama’s and Missouri’s laws, HEA 1211 has no exception for rape or incest.
Unlike Alabama’s, there are no exceptions for a woman’s psychological or mental health.
As physicians, we have seen women in terrible circumstances who are forced to continue their pregnancies. For some, the mental health consequences were devastating. Young girls raped by relatives, young women in abusive relationships, women with psychiatric illnesses—each forced to endure substantial psychiatric outcomes.
Some women have wanted pregnancies but learn that their baby will not survive, or will have short, painful life, or would never see, hear, talk or walk. They are making a difficult decision to save their child from suffering.
Some have pregnancies that threaten their own health. Forcing women to continue pregnancy in these situations compels them to take on enormous risk, including their future fertility, and often with devastating results. These are real people’s lives that we are risking by legislating medical care.
These are real Hoosier women and they are experiencing pain, trauma and illness. They deserve access to comprehensive health care free from undue political interference.
Do we really want to pay millions of dollars to defend this law when all similar laws have been found unconstitutional? This money would be better used to support young mothers or victims of rape and domestic abuse, provide comprehensive sex ed to prevent unwanted pregnancies, or provide adequate access to health care so that we can reduce our embarrassingly high rates of infant and maternal mortality.
Providing care to these women requires the highest level of compassion and empathy, something that we feel privileged to provide every day. We need to start defending these women instead of defending this irresponsible law.
Dr. Tracey A. Wilkinson
Dr. Caitlin Bernard