Utah abandons abortion anesthesia law – because no one will tell doctors how they should do it
Utah passed a law that fetuses past 20 weeks need anesthesia during abortions
Administering anesthesia to a fetus is a highly complicated and risky operation
Medics have sought guidance for 9 months on how they are supposed to do it
Now, they say no legislators will provide guidance, meaning they’ve essentially been given the green light to continue as they were doing before
Last year, Utah enacted a first-in-the-nation law requiring that fetuses receive anesthesia or painkillers for abortions after 20 weeks gestation.
Nine months later, no one has enforced the rule at the only licensed abortion clinic in the state.
Medics claim they have tried to seek guidance on how lawmakers want them to administer anesthesia – a complicated and risky procedure.
But nobody – including legislators, the governor’s office staff, and the attorney general’s office staff – will provide guidance or documentation explaining the rules.
It means practitioners are continuing as normal – with the blessing of lawmakers.
Dr Leah Torres, one of five licensed physicians who perform abortions at the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, said she has tried to follow the law but was dismissed
HOW CAN DOCTORS ADMINISTER FETUSES ANESTHESIA?
A strict interpretation of Utah’s law could force doctors to choose between two risky procedures, medics warn.
1. Administer anesthesia via a needle directly into the umbilical cord
2. Give women general anesthesia
The handful of doctors who do the abortions at the clinic are trying to comply with the law passed last May.
‘I guess I’m breaking the law, but I don’t know how to not break it because no one would tell me,’ Dr Leah Torres, one of five or six licensed physicians who perform these elective abortions at the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, told The Associated Press.
Dr Torres said she went to legislators, the governor’s office and the attorney general’s office seeking an explanation on what treatment she’s supposed to give.
She said they gave her none and recommended she speak to a lawyer.
Dr M Sean Esplin, a Utah physician who performs these abortions in emergency situations, such as if the mother’s life is at risk, which is not covered by the law, said a strict interpretation could force doctors to choose between two risky procedures: Administering anesthesia via a needle directly into the umbilical cord or giving women general anesthesia.
The law, he said, ‘is, in my opinion, a waste of our money and our time by someone who is trying to make a political statement and really not worried about what’s best medically or what’s best for people’s health’.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert told the AP that physicians should try to get directions from the attorney general’s office if they don’t understand how to follow the law.
Dan Burton, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said that the office does not ‘specifically regulate doctors in Utah.’… read more here
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