Louisiana’s Abortion Law Sows Confusion and Fear

A spokeswoman for Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, where Ms. Davis received prenatal care, said the hospital could not comment on individual cases. Regarding the state’s abortions bans, the spokeswoman, Caroline Isemann, said “we must look at each patient’s individual circumstances and remain in compliance with all current state laws to the best of our ability.”

Ms. Davis, 36, who is now a little over 13 weeks pregnant, and her partner were struggling to understand their options, said Ms. Davis’s brother-in-law, LaMont Cole, a city councilman in Baton Rouge, La. On Friday, he said they had hired Ben Crump, a lawyer who has represented families affected by police violence. Mr. Crump said in a statement on Friday that Ms. Davis would travel to another state to get an abortion and was starting a GoFundMe account to cover the cost. But a drive to Florida, which would be the closest state to get the procedure, would be challenging for Ms. Davis, a stay-at-home mother to two teenagers and a toddler, while also working as a content creator showcasing Black hairstyles.

“Regardless of what Louisiana lawmakers claim, the law is having its intended effect, causing doctors to refuse to perform abortions even when they are medically necessary out of fear of losing their medical licenses or facing criminal charges,” Mr. Crump said in the statement.

Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in June, doctors, patients and state officials across the country have scrambled to navigate the new abortion bans and especially, they say, the murkiness surrounding exemptions. Complicating matters is a patchwork of new legislation that is often temporarily suspended because of legal fights.

More than a dozen states ban abortion from conception or within the first several weeks of pregnancy. Most of those bans include narrow exceptions to save the life of the pregnant woman, or allow abortion in cases where the fetus has a fatal medical condition. But interpreting those exceptions properly is an emerging issue for doctors and hospitals, who fear hefty fines and prison sentences if they get it wrong.

That has made some hospitals reluctant to treat miscarriages with procedures also commonly used in abortions. Other hospitals have created special groups of doctors and lawyers to help interpret new laws and decide when a pregnancy can be legally terminated. Some states require two doctors to sign off on an abortion that meets the legal standard.

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