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Women seeking abortions across Arizona were forced to find alternatives beyond the state’s borders after a court ruling last week cleared the way for prosecutors to charge doctors and others who help a woman end a pregnancy unless her life is in danger. The state’s major abortion providers immediately halted procedures and canceled appointments. Providers in neighboring states, already seeing an increase in traffic from other conservative states that have banned abortion, were preparing to treat some of the 13,000 Arizona patients who get an abortion each year.
An Indiana judge has blocked the state’s abortion ban from being enforced, putting the new law on hold as abortion clinic operators argue that it violates the state constitution. Owen County Judge Kelsey Hanlon issued a preliminary injunction Thursday against the ban that took effect one week ago. The injunction was sought by abortion clinic operators who argued in a lawsuit that the state constitution protects access to the medical procedure. The judge wrote “there is reasonable likelihood that this significant restriction of personal autonomy offends the liberty guarantees of the Indiana Constitution” and that the clinics will prevail in the lawsuit.
Almost three months after Roe v. Wade was overturned, the landscape of abortion access is still shifting significantly in some states, sometimes very quickly. Changing restrictions and litigation in neighboring Indiana and Ohio this week illustrate the whiplash for providers and patients navigating sudden changes in what is allowed where. As of Thursday, 13 states have current bans on abortion at any point in pregnancy and one more, Georgia, with a ban on abortions after fetal cardiac activity can be detected — usually around six weeks, often before women realize they’re pregnant.
Some leaders in states with strict bans on abortion say exceptions for rape or incest victims aren’t needed because emergency contraceptives can be used instead. But medical professionals and advocates for rape survivors say that while emergency contraception is a helpful tool, it’s not always foolproof, and getting access to these emergency measures in the short time in which they would be effective may not be realistic for someone who has just been assaulted.
FILE - Pharmacist Simon Gorelikov holds a generic emergency contraceptive at the Health First Pharmacy in Boston on May 2, 2013. Some leaders in states that ban abortions at all points of pregnancy say exceptions for rape or incest victims aren't needed because emergency contraceptives can be used instead. But medical professionals and advocates for rape survivors say that while emergency contraception is a helpful tool, it's not always foolproof, and getting access to these emergency measures in the short timeframe in which they would be effective may not be realistic for someone who has just been assaulted. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
Chloe Akers considers herself a grizzled criminal defense attorney. Until a few months ago, she didn’t spend much time thinking about abortion. For all her 39 years, abortion was not a crime, so she’d never imagined having to defend someone accused of performing one. Then the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Akers pulled up Tennessee’s criminal abortion statute. She was shocked. It makes performing an abortion a Class C felony. There are no exceptions, not even to save a mother's life. Akers quit her job and is now touring the state explaining abortion law to doctors, and the intricacies of pregnancies to lawyers who might soon have to defend them.