June 29, 2022

Health care professionals in Indianapolis march in support of abortion rights

Dr. Kristen Swanson and Dr. Petr Silva attended a rally at the IUPUI medical campus on June 29 to show their support for abortion rights. They said the government should not make medical decisions. - Darian Benson/WFYI News

Dr. Kristen Swanson and Dr. Petr Silva attended a rally at the IUPUI medical campus on June 29 to show their support for abortion rights. They said the government should not make medical decisions.

Darian Benson/WFYI News

Hundreds of medical professionals and protesters gathered at the IUPUI medicaI campus in Indianapolis Wednesday to show their support for abortion rights. 

The group marched around the campus before several medical professionals delivered speeches, including Dr. Nicole Scott, director of the IU School of Medicine OB-GYN residency training program.

“We are health care providers and abortion is health care,” Scott said. “Anything less than comprehensive abortion care is malpractice.”

She said abortion training is a requirement for graduating residency, and if Indiana moves to ban abortion, both current and future medical doctors would not be equipped to provide evidence-based medicine.

“Students will not learn about family planning and understand that abortion is safe, effective and compassionate,” Scott said. “I am afraid of what this means for the future of our specialty and the patients we care for.”

Indiana officials have historically said the state’s maternal mortality rate is the third highest in the country. But Indiana’s true rank is unknown, because each state has different methods of counting maternal deaths.

Dr. Molly Lee, a resident in internal medicine, said she worries the overturn of Roe v. Wade will cause more unnecessary death.

“I urge lawmakers to hear us and see since a law that increases the mortality of their constituents is something that has got to be reconsidered,” Lee said. “Abortion is health care and the Supreme Court is practicing medicine without a license.”

Others in the crowd, including family medicine resident Dr. Kristen Swanson, echoed Lee’s sentiment that the government should not make medical decisions.

“We know that we and our patients can make the best decision for them,” Swanson said. “And that should be the only people who are involved in those decisions.”

Corrina Morris, a labor and delivery nurse who participated in the rally, said she has cared for patients who have chosen to end their pregnancies due to life-threatening complications to themselves or the fetus.

“These procedures are referred to as elective, which is a cruel misnomer,” Morris said. “What my patients elect to do is to prevent the suffering of their very loved and very wanted baby.”

Morris said patients already endure so much to obtain an abortion and “they should not have to also bear the burden of convincing their legislators that their grief is valid and their choice is kind.”

A small group of counter protesters attended the rally to voice their opposition to abortion rights. They stood with signs near the front of the crowd while speakers were presenting.

Abortion is still legal in Indiana. But abortion services providers across the state say they are preparing for the worst, as the Indiana General Assembly is expected to include an abortion ban during the special session. The session was originally scheduled for July 6 but has been postponed to the last week of July.

It’s unclear at this point what that ban will include or if it will make exceptions for incest, rape or when the life of the pregnant person is at risk.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita has asked the courts to allow several previously halted anti-abortion laws to take effect.

A preliminary research study from the IU School of Medicine finds many Hoosiers already struggle to access abortion services due to abortion policies that are already restrictive.

According to the study authors, restrictions currently include an 18-hour waiting period, state-directed counseling, severe restrictions on insurance funding for abortion, parental consent requirements for minors, prohibition on the use of telemedicine for medication abortion, and “non-medically based standards” related to abortion clinic space, staffing, and equipment.

Contact reporter Darian Benson at dbenson@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @helloimdarian.


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