Abortion Provider Whole Woman's Heath Alliance Prepares To Open A New Clinic In Indiana

SOUTH BEND, INDIANA – JUNE 19: An ultrasound machine sits next to an exam table in an examination room at Whole Woman’s Health of South Bend on June 19, 2019 in South Bend, Indiana. The clinic, which provides reproductive healthcare for women including providing abortions is scheduled to open next week following a nearly two-year court battle. Part of the Texas-based nonprofit Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, the clinic will offer medication-induced abortions for women who are up to 10 weeks pregnant. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)Getty Images

One year after the state passed a law banning nearly all abortions, an Alabama legislator is trying for a second time to pass a bill that would require doctors to perform life-saving measures on a fetus born alive after a surgical abortion, a bill doctors called medically implausible.

Rep. Ginny Shaver, R-Leesburg, introduced HB248 or “Gianna’s Law” in February, which would require a physician to “exercise reasonable care to preserve the life of a child born alive after an abortion or attempted abortion in an abortion or reproductive health center,” and would establish criminal penalties for violating the law.

Dr. Morissa Ladinsky, associate professor of Pediatrics at UAB Medicine said the bill is not based in medical fact. Clinics in Alabama perform abortions up to 21 weeks gestational age. Ladinsky said the latest a doctor in the United States will attempt to sustain the life of a baby is 22 gestational weeks due to a lack of ability for a fetus outside the womb to survive at that gestational age.

Ladinsky acknowledged that an infant delivered before 22 weeks gestational age may have a heartbeat for a short time, but “no matter what we do or try to do, [with] the technology we have and our knowledge in the United States today,” doctors are unable to keep an infant alive if born before prior to 22 weeks in utero.

“The bill itself asks our legislature to affirm something that is a fallacy — that is a medical impossibility,” Ladinsky said. “This whole bill is not in accordance with medical fact. It’s basically a theoretical scenario that is medically implausible.”

Shaver named her bill Gianna’s Law after Gianna Jessen, a woman who survived an instillation abortion procedure in 1977. Today, instillation procedures are rarely used in the United States. None were performed in Alabama in 2018 according to ADPH.

By law, Alabama doctors who provide abortions are required to date a pregnancy using an ultrasound. Shaver claims clinics in Alabama routinely fail to test for gestational age, but refused to provide evidence of those claims.

Health department inspections since 2009 of the only three Alabama reproductive health clinics that provide abortions show no indication that clinics have failed to measure gestational age with ultrasound, according to state records.

In 2015, the Alabama Department of Public Health noted a doctor at West Alabama Women’s Clinic in Tuscaloosa failed to document the fetal viability in 16 medical records, however according to an ADPH investigation none of the fetuses were above 19 weeks gestational age.

Pregnancies are measured in two ways: Doctors can date a pregnancy by gestational age, which is the time between the first day of the last menstrual period and the day of delivery. Or, pregnancies can be dated by fetal age or post fertilization (PPFA), which is two weeks later than gestational age. The Alabama Department of Public Health uses both measurements in their statistical reporting on abortions within the state.

In 2018 there were four abortions in Alabama at or past 20 weeks PPFA or 22 weeks gestation, according to the ADPH. The ADPH documented the reasons for the abortions past 22 weeks was severe risk to the mother’s health including severe preeclampsia/eclampsia, ruptured membrane and no amniotic fluid.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.3 percent of all abortions performed in the United States are performed after 21 weeks gestational age.

When Shaver introduced the same legislation last year, she said she did not seek medical expertise in wording the bill, but that she modeled it after a similar bill in Texas. Shaver’s Alabama bill passed in the House with a 66-18 vote along party lines, but never made it to the Senate.

“A baby outside the womb— it’s living and should be afforded the opportunity to have care given to it to try to preserve the baby’s life,” Shaver said. “It has nothing to do with any legality of a woman’s right to choose.”

Shaver rejects medical professionals’ arguments that a baby cannot survive outside the womb prior to 22 weeks gestation, and also rejects the ADPH’s reporting that these cases do not exist.

Staci Fox, President and CEO at Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates said bills like Shaver’s “born alive” bill perpetuates myths about abortion.

“Politicians in Alabama have already passed countless anti-women’s health measures in recent years, including an outright ban, Fox said in a statement. “This bill is just another tactic in their quest to make abortion illegal in the state.”

Shaver’s born-alive bill is scheduled to be introduced in the House Judiciary committee on Wednesday.

Source: https://www.al.com/politics/2020/03/doctors-call-new-alabama-abortion-bill-medically-implausible.html?fbclid=IwAR08WottD4lg1E4G0Wewc9iK8x22loJDx7HVi0CPil_vkQGTN9O_QfAkVxM