Volume 36

Under Pressure: The Effects of Dobbs on Lawyers Advising Abortion Providers

by Abigail L. Cahn-Gambino

Every single day I have a conversation with a patient in which I say, ‘Abortion would be a really safe and valid option for you and I’m so sorry that I can’t do it here.’” This is what a Texas physician said, grappling with the implications of the Dobbs decision. In states like Texas, doctors are virtually powerless to determine when they may intervene in a pregnancy and not face liability. The physicians’ fears are likely exacerbated by the fact that they face singular liability: “[a]bortion bans include penalties only for people involved in facilitating illegal abortions,” not the pregnant people themselves.  They may feel required to tell patients—with much strife—that the patient’s symptoms are not “among the symptoms they are looking for” to allow them to provide a medically necessary abortion. Indeed, a Colorado OB/GYN lamented that she could not render necessary care “because [the patients] are not dying yet.” She further bemoaned, “I cannot believe I have to say, you’re not dying yet,” making clear just how personal these decisions are for doctors and their patients alike.


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