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Home HEALTH New Ohio abortion law forces doctor to fight to protect patient's life

New Ohio abortion law forces doctor to fight to protect patient’s life

During that July ultrasound, Winchester noticed that there was no amniotic fluid around the baby. Further tests that day and the next morning indicated that the baby had kidney failure and multiple heart defects.

Medical records explain it in cold scientific terms: the baby had “lethal fetal abnormalities.”

That harsh reality sent Winchester, Tara and her husband, Justin, into a fight to get her proper medical care, a fight that would pit them against Ohio’s strict anti-abortion law, as well as the hospital where Winchester works.

In April, Tara, 34, and Justin, 33, were delighted to learn that she was pregnant. They sent ultrasound photos to friends and family and named their baby Griffyn. Justin, a sports car podcasterHe bought his son onesies with logos of his beloved Cleveland teams.

“All I could think about was hanging out watching sports, taking him to games, having fun, someone to play with,” Justin said. “Just doing everything a father would do with his child. We were very excited.”

“We had already chosen a date for the baby shower,” said Tara. “We were really looking forward to it.”

When tests showed the baby had kidney failure and heart defects, Tara was 20 weeks pregnant. She and Justin had to make a painful decision.

One option was to continue the pregnancy. The baby could be stillborn, but even if he were born alive, he would survive a few hours at most, Winchester said.

Carrying the baby to term put Tara’s life in danger: she has a blood clotting disorder and an autoimmune condition, putting her at high risk of bleeding, blood clots and pre-eclampsia, all life-threatening complications.

“When you have a baby who’s never going to make it, a baby who’s going to face a potentially very difficult couple of hours of life, we have to think hard if we want to put Tara’s life at risk for that.” Winchester, an assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, told CNN.

The other option was abortion. After careful consideration, Tara and Justin chose to terminate the pregnancy, both to protect Tara’s life and to keep Griffyn from suffering.

“I can only imagine being born and not having functioning organs at all, it would be horrible,” Tara told CNN.

A doctor fights for her patient

Winchester told Tara that she thought she might be able to have an abortion at home in Ohio, albeit only weeks before, following the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. wade, a law had entered into force prohibiting abortions from six weeks of pregnancy.

But she says she consulted with a hospital attorney, who said Tara couldn’t get an abortion because of the new Ohio law.

“When I had to call Tara and tell her we couldn’t do it, it was really hard,” Winchester said.

“It was horrible because not only did they tell us no, but the next step was to think, well, well, who is going to help us?” Tara said. “Where do we go from here?”

“I have literally never felt more helpless in my life,” Justin added.

Winchester and the Georges asked CNN not to name the hospital. CNN reached out to the hospital, and a spokesperson said they “do not comment on the care of an individual patient.”

After Winchester says she was told not to have the abortion by the hospital’s attorney, she reached out to colleagues in nearby states to find a place as close as possible where Tara could have the procedure. That process took several days, in part because abortion laws in neighboring states were changing.

“He had to wait,” Winchester said. “And if something were to happen to her in that waiting period, that would make me feel terrible.”

Through their pain, Tara and Justin drove almost three hours to Michigan, where they spent two days to undergo the procedure. Justin cracked jokes and sang songs to keep Tara’s spirits up, but he knew it was useless.

“It was devastating,” he said.

They had to pay for a hotel and missed paydays from their job as a hairstylist and their job as a quality manager at a steel mill.

But the worst part, Tara said, was how “scary” and “worrying” it was to be in an unfamiliar hospital with doctors they had never met before.

Six days later, on August 2, Tara received the abortion in Michigan.

Ohio anti-abortion group responds

CNN asked Ohio Senator Kristina Roegner, the leading sponsor of the state’s anti-abortion law, to comment on Tara’s situation. She did not answer.

A spokesperson for Ohio Right to Life, which lobbied for Ohio’s anti-abortion law, responded to CNN’s request for comment on Tara’s situation.

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“Ohio Right to Life offers our deepest condolences to the couple,” Elizabeth Whitmarsh, the spokeswoman, wrote in an email to CNN. “However, the answer to child suffering is never to deliberately kill it. We do not kill human beings simply because of a disease they have… It is inhumane to treat an unborn child as if it were a pet to be ‘put down’ due to disease.” “.

“That’s absolutely appalling,” Tara said in response to Whitmarsh’s statement.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” added Justin.

“I don’t think anyone, whether it’s Ohio Right to Life or the government, should dare to make these really personal decisions that change people’s lives,” said Jessie Hill, an attorney who has been fighting Ohio’s anti-abortion law. Ohio in Courts.

In her email, Whitmarsh said the protections for the mother are “exceedingly clear” under Ohio law and that “the life of the mother is undeniably protected under the law.”

Hill, a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law and a specialist in reproductive rights, said that’s wrong.

Ohio law allows abortion to “prevent death” of the mother or when there is a “serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”

But Hill says the law doesn’t spell out exactly what qualifies as a “serious risk,” so doctors and hospitals don’t know under what medical circumstances an abortion would be legally permitted.

Because there are such strict penalties for violating the Ohio law — a doctor could face loss of his or her medical license, money damages and jail time — Hill said doctors and hospitals are reluctant to even come close to violating it.

“Doctors just aren’t sure how sick is sick enough,” Hill said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty and a lot of fear around this right now.

For example, the Ohio law lists preeclampsia as a condition that poses a serious risk to the mother, but does not say whether the mother has to have preeclampsia or is simply at high risk for it.

The law “could imply that anything short of complete preeclampsia is not going to be enough for the doctor to feel comfortable proceeding because that’s not what is mentioned in the statute,” Hill said, adding that “it’s a reasonable reading” that being at high risk is not enough to justify an abortion “because if the law requires pre-eclampsia, then that suggests something short of pre-eclampsia is not enough.”

Other women reveal their abortion experiences

Tara and Justin say they’re telling their story to help women in states like Ohio who might also be experiencing a potentially dangerous pregnancy but don’t have the resources they do.

“We were lucky enough to be able to miss work, we were able to afford a hotel, travel out of state. Not everyone can do that,” Justin said. “I’m really scared for any woman that maybe doesn’t have family or support, that she doesn’t have a vehicle… What is she supposed to do?”

Other women have also come forward to tell their stories.

Last week, model Chrissy Teigen opened up about her 2020 pregnancy with her son, Jack.

“It became very clear halfway through that he would not survive and neither would I without any medical intervention,” Teigen said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. He explained that he later had “an abortion to save my life for a baby that had absolutely no chance.”

In July, Marlena Stell told CNN that she had to walk for at least two weeks with the remains of her dead fetus inside her due to strict anti-abortion laws in Texas.
Earlier this month, Kailee DeSpain told CNN that she, like Tara, was at high risk of pregnancy complications and was pregnant with a child who would not survive long outside the womb. DeSpain was unable to get an abortion in Texas and had to drive 10 hours to New Mexico for the procedure.

Tara and Justin consider leaving Ohio

On September 14, an Ohio judge temporarily blocked the state’s abortion law, restoring abortion access in the state for 14 days up to 20 weeks after fertilization.

Justin and Tara still want to have a family, but Ohio’s changing laws make them “nervous” and “insecure” because they “have no idea what the laws are.” [will] it seems,” said Tara.

“Our whole family is here, our friends are here, our jobs are here,” he said. “[We’re] I’m just trying to hope something changes for the better so we can stay here.”

CNN’s John Bonifield and Lisa Respers France contributed to this report.

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