How the near-total abortion ban affects Indiana’s largest healthcare provider

Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 6:15 PM EDT
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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WNDU) - Indiana’s largest healthcare system today announced it is ready for September 15th.

That’s the date the state’s new law banning most abortions takes effect.

IU Health is not only the largest healthcare provider in Indiana, it operates the state’s only medical school. That school will now have to send some of its OBGYN residents on an extra field trip.

“We do have a large OBGYN residency program and given that, the program needs to provide all access to the full spectrum of reproductive services, we needed to make arrangements for out of state training for those who need it. We’ve done that. That’s a process that involved practice coverage, hoteling, how we figure out how to do the logistics of that. and felt confident about that work,” said Medical Executive Dr. David Ingram during a mid-morning Zoom session with the news media.

The new law bans the type of clinics that have traditionally performed the vast majority of Indiana abortions. Abortions performed beyond September 15 will have to take place in hospitals, or in clinics sponsored by hospitals, which will lead to cost increases.

“What I can say is that services that are provided in hospital settings are definitely more expensive than outpatient settings, so we do anticipate a rising cost from that perspective as abortions now will need to be performed in a hospital-based clinic or in a hospital. The second piece of increased cost will certainly be the anticipated volume of patients that will be admitted to our neo natal intensive care units and often those are prolonged stays in those units and are some of the most expensive care that we provide,” Dr. Ingram explained.

Under the new law, abortions will only be allowed in cases of rape and incest, and when the mother’s life or health is threatened by a pregnancy.

“So, the law defines the serious health risk as one for which an abortion is necessary to prevent a serious and permanent impairment of a physical function essentially, so there’s that definition, I think, as I was saying earlier, it is hard to legislate medicine because every patient situation and circumstance is very unique,” said Maternal Fetal Medicine Physician, Dr. Caroline Rouse

IU Health has set up a 24-hour rapid response team to answer the clinical, ethical, and legal questions of those treating pregnant women.

“We know that this is new territory for many of our providers and that has increased certainly the anxiety around, are they making the right decisions,” Dr. Ingram said.

The rapid response team that Dr. Ingram mentioned earlier is comprised of three different specialties: clinical, ethical, and legal, so in the event that a health care provider had an urgent legal question related to provision of abortion services the rapid response team can be called for an opinion and advice.