Louisville OBGYN calls Ky. law unclear on determining medically necessary abortions
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Some Louisville doctors are reeling as Kentucky’s near-total abortion ban takes effect.
“There are a lot of unknowns, a lot of ‘I don’t know’ in this,” Dr. Louis Monnig, an obstetrician and gynecologist practicing in Louisville said.
The law that was triggered by the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade bans all abortion in the state, except in cases where the pregnant patient’s life is threatened by the pregnancy.
Besides the ban itself, which he fundamentally opposes, Monnig’s concern is how a life-threatening case is determined as such.
He has read the law multiple times, and he said he still doesn’t know who is responsible for the decision nor what justification and documentation is required.
“[The lawmakers] state that ‘under reasonable medical judgment,’ but there’s no stipulation,” Monnig said. “Is it our judgment? Is it two physicians? Is it abortive experts?”
“In situations that are emergencies, and people’s lives are truly in danger, there’s not a lot of time to consult people, to ask for backup,” Monnig added. “What I document; will that be good enough to stand up to legal scrutiny?”
Because if a provider’s documentation and justification does not “stand up to legal scrutiny,” it is the abortion provider who will face criminal charges. Under the Kentucky law, the abortion seeker or recipient is not listed as criminally culpable.
Monnig said he hasn’t yet been faced with this situation since the law went into effect Friday, but he expects that he will. Each time, he said he understands that a Class D felony is on the line, and with it, one to five years in prison.
With the added risk and perhaps enhanced determination process, “I worry about in that time of inaction bad things happening to patients that could have been prevented,” Monnig said.
All of this is if he can get patients in the door, Monnig said. With abortion suddenly illegal, he worried pregnant patients won’t be as forthcoming about issues such as vaginal bleeding, septic miscarriages, or even nonprofessional abortions gone awry.
“We could see conditions potentially get worse if patients are afraid, or don’t want to come forth, to seek care,” Monnig said.
Monnig is clear he does not support abortion bans in general. Specifically, Kentucky’s law has other issues he sees, too.
“There are just so many inconsistencies that we can find by closely reading this law, and it’s just apparent it’s not written by a medical professional,” Monnig said. “I think there’s a lot of consequences that weren’t thought about at all.”
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