Doctors are left to guess at whether helping their patients will land them in prison.
BY SARA HUTCHINSON
MARCH 24, 2023
Doctors have a code, a set of principles meant to guide their practice: Give care. Act justly. Respect patients. Do no harm. But for Texas doctors, especially obstetrician-gynecologists, following those seemingly straightforward principles has become a legal and ethical minefield.
Physicians are finding themselves torn between providing medically appropriate care and staying in compliance with the state’s draconian anti-abortion laws. The stakes couldn’t be higher: risking major fines and up to life in prison for doctors on one side, and on the other, often putting women’s lives at risk because of delays in care or refusals to provide formerly routine procedures. As a result, medical decisions regarding pregnancy complications now involve a host of new stakeholders—hospital administrators and lawyers—who may put questions of institutional risk above patient well-being.