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Attacks against abortion care are attacks against all care

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Attacks against abortion care are attacks against all care

May 29, 2024 | 7:00 am ET
By Rebecca Gibron
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Attacks against abortion care are attacks against all care
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Indiana, like other states with strict abortion bans, is seeing fewer people enter medical residency program. (Getty Images)

When we restrict one aspect of care — like with abortion bans — we hinder all access to care. That’s why,  across the country, we are witnessing the closure of maternity wards, including here in Indiana.

As we near the two-year anniversary of the reversal of Roe v. Wade and approach one year without abortion access in Indiana, data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) show medical school residents are staying away from states with severe abortion restrictions.

Fourteen states, mostly located within this region, have enacted near-total bans on abortion. The AAMC analysis shows that the number of applicants to residency programs in these states fell by 4.2% between 2023 and 2024. In contrast, states where abortion remains legal saw only a 0.6% decline in residency program applicants. Specialties affected most include emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN), and pediatrics.

Take away these future prospects from the provider shortage Indiana already faces, and the maternal health care desert just gets dryer. The need for increased access to care has never been more urgent, which is why we’re in court to reclaim at least some abortion access for Hoosiers seeking vital health care.

Indiana impact

Here in Indiana, at least 1.5 million women of reproductive age are restricted from basic abortion care. Nationally, one in three women of reproductive age — and even more trans and nonbinary people who can become pregnant — no longer have access to abortion in their state. People are forced to travel hundreds or thousands of miles for care, if they can afford it, or remain pregnant against their will. And if you are a Black woman forced to remain pregnant in a state like Indiana with a crippling maternal health crisis, remaining pregnant means you are twice as likely to die from pregnancy complications than a white person.

Indiana faces roughly 4,300 job openings for nurses, with an additional 5,000 openings predicted by 2031. Rural counties in Indiana have already faced hospital closures, with nearly 50% of Indiana’s 92 counties having just one hospital and 20% having none. Something has to give.

The bench trial for the lawsuit challenging the limited exceptions in Indiana’s near-total abortion ban is set to begin Wednesday, May 29 in Monroe County and last three days.

Some people in Indiana think that because abortion has been all but banned, we have had to close our doors. But our doors remain open, and we are here fighting because everyone deserves health care, regardless of who they are or where they live.

At Planned Parenthood, we are doing everything we can to meet the needs of patients. We’ve helped people forced to flee the state for abortion services navigate across state lines and come back to us for follow-up care. We’ve expanded services to include vasectomies and gender-affirming care on top of the comprehensive reproductive care we already provide, like wellness exams, STI checks and treatments, and cervical cancer screenings. It pains me to say that most hospitals in Indiana have made it harder for people to access abortion under the narrow legal exceptions. These conditions can lead to increased travel times, harmful delays, higher costs, and, in dire cases, even death.

The lawsuit 

Planned Parenthood, alongside the ACLU of Indiana, All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center, and the Lawyering Project, has asked the court to broaden the narrow health exceptions so that Hoosiers can exercise their right to obtain an abortion necessary to prevent a serious health risk, a right that the Supreme Court recognized in its June decision. We’re also asking the court to allow providers like Planned Parenthood to offer abortion care in the limited circumstances abortion is allowed.

Indiana has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country, and with this ban, things won’t get better. Abortion bans don’t just restrict abortion access; they jeopardize medical care for miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, and other pregnancy-related issues. This climate of fear is crippling health care professionals nationwide, leaving them terrified that fulfilling their oath to care could subject them to vicious political attacks. It’s an assault on medical ethics and the well-being of patients everywhere.

We know that every single person deserves access to health care, including abortion care, when they need it, without question or fear of criminalization. We won’t stop fighting until abortion access is restored here in Indiana and across the country. Our commitment is unwavering, our resolve is strong, and our compassion for those we serve is boundless.

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