Rutgers Expert Available to Discuss How Unclear Language of Abortion Ban Exceptions Risks Patient Health

Natalie DiCenzo, MD, an OBGYN resident at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, is available to discuss from a physician perspective how the language of abortion laws puts women’s lives at risk.

The following quote by DiCenzo can be used for pick-up: 

“Many restrictive state abortion laws permit abortion only to ‘save the life of a pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder’ as determined by a physician’s ‘reasonable medical judgment.’ As physicians, our ‘reasonable medical judgment’ is that all pregnancies come with risk. On a spectrum between life-threatening emergency and guaranteed safety, almost all pregnancies exist in the middle. With inadequate guidance, the minutes, hours or days potentially needed for clarification come with consequences.” 

“In some states, the law only permits abortion for prevention of ‘serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.’ Does loss of one’s uterus count as a substantial? If so, what risk of hysterectomy is permitted—10%, 50%, 99%? Vague advice to use ‘best medical judgment’ leads to ambiguity that requires physicians to consult lawyers and ethics committees to determine patient care. If each patient is subject to the biases of individual lawyers, courts and physicians, the law is bound to be applied unevenly. What happens to someone brought by ambulance to a hospital that prioritizes fetal life, when another hospital would have intervened for the sake of the pregnant person? We encourage states seeking bans with exceptions for life endangerment to critically engage with physicians to create unambiguous laws that allow us to protect our patients’ health.”

Read more of DiCenzo’s viewpoint in her recent opinion piece in HealthAffairs.