BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The Louisiana Department of Health took comments Tuesday on the list of medical conditions that would deem a fetus medically futile and allow an abortion to be performed within the parameters of state law.
Some warned that the list’s restrictive nature could lead to situations that would put women in danger.
“I would like to encourage the Louisiana Department of Health to consider changing, altering, or getting rid of this list because of the arbitrary nature of the list, how narrow it is, and how limiting it is to our patients,” said Maternal Fetal Medicine Physician Jane Martin.
When Louisiana’s abortion trigger laws went into place, LDH made an emergency list of conditions that would render a fetus medically futile and allow for an abortion. The list currently has 24 defined definitions and a 25th item that is a general catch-all option.
Some medical professionals said the list could not contain all possible conditions that would lead to a fetus being medically futile.
“The determination of medical futility, the determination of profound disability, needs to be up to the discretion of the physician and the desires of the patient,” said Dr. Nina Breakstone, an Emergency Medicine Physician.
Louisiana doctors face years in prison and hefty fines for performing abortions that do not fit into the narrow exceptions.
Louisiana Right to Life said in a statement they did not support the medically futile portion of the original legislation. They asked for two conditions, namely that Trisomy 13 and 18 be removed from the list. They said it does not fit the definition of “incompatible of sustaining life after birth” with the belief that people have a chance at living with the condition.
“We do not make me or anybody else in the medical field partakers of life and death decisions, we do no harm,” said anti-abortion activist Richard Mahoney.
One proposal for the list is acrania, which Nancy Davis’ fetus was diagnosed with.
She was told it would not live long after birth, but she was denied an abortion by her doctors because they did not know if it fell under the conditions allowed.
She ended up leaving the state to undergo the procedure despite lawmakers coming out in defense of the law, stating her condition would have been included in the exceptions.
A medical student who described herself as anti-abortion said that due to the narrow list, she doesn’t feel she would receive life saving care if something went wrong with her pregnancy. Others said they would leave the state after they finish their medical training.
“I don’t feel safe [having kids] here right now. Which is really sad because Louisiana has become my home…I don’t want to die,” Taylor Wilson said.
After the meeting, LDH will provide a report before a permanent list of exceptions is created.
There is no timeline of when that will happen.
Once the final report is released, the legislative health committees are expected to be able to weigh in on the decision.