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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

NE physician discusses impact of year-old 12-week abortion ban

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Monday, June 17, 2024   

Nebraska physicians and their patients have been dealing with the state's 12-week abortion ban since it went into effect just over a year ago.

It replaced the 2010 law which prohibited abortions past the 20th week of pregnancy and was considered one of the country's most extreme abortion laws at the time.

Dr. Emily Patel, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, said many things can go wrong after the first trimester.

"We are really punishing women who end up having pregnancy complications or fetal anomalies or genetic conditions that are discovered after 12 weeks," Patel contended. "Saying to them, 'Well, I'm sorry, you don't have access to the same care you could have gotten if you were within that first trimester, or if you were out of our state receiving your prenatal care there.'"

When it comes to potential complications, Patel pointed out the first diagnostic test cannot be done until the 10th through the 12th week of pregnancy, and definitive genetic testing on the fetus itself cannot be done until the 16th week, well into the second trimester.

Patel noted the 12-week ban has already had short-term effects, including requiring Nebraska women to go out of state to receive their care, and she fully expects it will have long-term effects as well.

"I think it's really important that people understand that this has reduced access to care in our state," Patel asserted. "It's going to continue to further reduce access to care, especially in smaller communities, just due to the simple fact that it's going to be really hard to recruit providers."

In 2022, a March of Dimes report labeled nearly 52% of Nebraska counties "maternity care deserts," compared with around 31% of counties nationwide.

Patel admitted the current political atmosphere can make her role challenging, but she is glad she is still able to discuss patients' options with them. Some states now prohibit doctors from doing so. She emphasized the best thing she can hope for as a provider is for voters to really consider what is at stake and vote to protect the rights of patients and the doctors who care for them in November.

She stressed the current 12-week ban has implications for every woman living in Nebraska who becomes pregnant.

"Until somebody is faced with that decision, they wouldn't know that they would need access to it, or maybe even be thinking about it," Patel explained. "In a way, this can affect really anybody at any time, and we just want to be able to offer the same level of care to every patient."

Nebraska voters may have up to four abortion-related initiatives to choose from in November. Only one of them, the "Nebraska Right to Abortion Initiative," backed by the Protect Our Rights coalition, would allow abortions past the first trimester.


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