On Monday three days after the Supreme Court issued its landmark decision to Roe v. Wade. to overthrowgot dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist, a call from a colleague, a child abuse physician in Ohio.
Hours after the Supreme Court action, Buckeye had banned all abortions after six weeks. Now this doctor had a 10-year-old patient in the office who was six weeks and three days pregnant.
Could Bernard help?
Indiana lawmakers stand ready to further restrict or ban abortion within weeks. The Indiana General Assembly meets in special session July 25, when it will discuss abortion policy restrictions and inflation relief.
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But for now, the procedure is still legal in Indiana. And so the girl was soon on her way to Indiana to nurse Bernard.
Indiana abortion laws unchanged, but effect still felt across the state
While Indiana’s law didn’t change last week when the Supreme Court issued its landmark Dobbs decision, abortion providers have felt an impact here and experienced a dramatic increase in the number of patients coming to their clinics from neighboring states with more restrictive policies.
Since Friday, the abortion clinics where Dr. Katie McHugh, an independent obstetrician-gynecologist who works, has seen “an insane amount of requests” from pregnant people in Kentucky and Ohio, where it’s much harder to get an abortion.
A ban on abortion after six weeks went into effect in Ohio last week† Last Friday, the two Kentucky abortion providers closed their doors after that state’s trigger law banning abortions went into effect.
Indiana could soon have similar restrictions.
That hurts doctors like Bernard.
“It’s hard to imagine that in a few weeks we won’t be able to provide that care,” Bernard said.
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For now, abortion providers in Indiana have been getting more calls from neighboring states. Typically, about five to eight patients a day come from out of state, said McHugh, who works at multiple clinics in central and southern Indiana. Now the clinics see about 20 such patients a day.
Kentucky patients have been coming to Indiana in greater numbers since earlier this spring, when more restrictive laws came into effect there, McHugh said.
Indianapolis abortion clinics see an increase in patients from Ohio, Kentucky
A similar dynamic is at play at Women’s Med, a medical center that performs abortions in Indianapolis and has a sister center in Dayton, Ohio. In the past week, they’ve doubled the number of patients they treat for a full procedure, accepting many referrals from their Ohio counterpart.
More than 100 Dayton patients were to be scheduled at the Indianapolis facility, a Women’s Med representative wrote to IndyStar in an email.
Women and pregnant people “cry, distraught, desperate, grateful and appreciative,” the representative wrote.
The two centers are working together to direct patients to Indianapolis for termination after a pre-appointment in Dayton. In recent months, they’ve also had people from southern states, such as Texas, come up north for procedures.
Many patients, particularly those from Ohio and Kentucky, seek care through Women’s Med, while also making multiple appointments in other states, so if a state closes, they still have some options, the representative wrote.
The center is advising pregnant people with positive pregnancy tests to book an appointment, even though they asked people to wait until their six weeks prior to the Supreme Court ruling.
For years, people have crossed state lines for abortions, especially if an across-the-border clinic is closer to their home than the nearest in-state facility.
In 2021, 465, or about 5.5% of the more than 8,400 abortions performed, were performed on out-of-state residents, according to the most recent report on termination of pregnancy from the Indiana Department of Health. More than half, 264, lived in Kentucky and 40 in Ohio.
Midwesterners can also travel to Illinois, where abortion will likely remain legal even after the recent Supreme Court ruling, but for many, Indiana is closer and until lawmakers pass a measure to the contrary, abortion will be legal here.
Yet it remains obscure what the future holds.
Thursday a lower court ruled that abortions can resume, at least for now, in Kentucky. On Wednesday abortion clinics in Ohio filed suitand said that state’s new ban was unconstitutional.
In Indiana, lawmakers have declined to provide details about the measures that an abortion law being considered here could include.
For now, abortion providers are doing their best to accommodate all Hoosier patients and those from neighboring states.
“We’re doing our best to increase availability and access for as long as possible, knowing that this will be a temporary time frame in which we can provide that assistance,” McHugh said.
Contact IndyStar reporter Shari Rudavsky at [email protected]. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter: @srudavsky.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio girl, 10, among patients going to Indiana for abortion