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Louisiana woman forced to carry fetus missing skull to term or travel to Florida for abortion

A new Louisiana law has outlawed abortion with very few exceptions

Abe Asher
Friday 19 August 2022 13:06 BST
Panorama: America's Abortion War - trailer

A woman in Louisiana said that she has been told that she must carry a fetus without a skull and part of its head to term or travel out of state to recieve an abortion.

Nancy Davis, a mother of one, is 13 weeks pregnant. Several weeks ago, an initial ultrasound revelead to Ms Davis that the fetus would have no chance of surviving — but because Louisiana’s abortion ban does not include an exception for acrania, the condition the fetus is suffering from, she cannot get a legal abortion in the state.

If Ms Davis does want to get an abortion, she will have to travel out of state to Florida. But time is running out for her to make a decision: Florida has banned abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, giving Ms Davis a small window to schedule an appointment and arrange her travel should she decide to get the procedure.

“It’s hard knowing that ... you know I’m carrying it to bury know what I’m saying,” Ms Davis told WAFB9.

Louisiana is among the Republican-led states that passed extremely restrictive abortion bans to take effect in a post-Roe v Wade landscape.

The state has banned all abortions except for cases in which the mother’s life is in jeopardy or in some cases in which the fetus is nonviable.

Nancy Davis was denied an abortion in Louisiana despite being pregnant with a baby with a high chance of dying moments after birth (WAFB9)

A group of plaintiffs filed a lawsuit to stop the ban from taking effect, but the Louisiana Supreme Court last Friday rejected their appeal. That has left Ms Davis with an extremely limited set of options in trying circumstances — carry her baby to term and lose it after birth, or cross state lines for an abortion.

“Florida is the ideally Florida. But then the next closest place would be North Carolina or something,” she said of her options for abortion.

Nancy Davis’s child is seen on an ultrasound which shows its skull underdeveloped (Nancy Davis vis WAFB9)

She called for lawmakers to consider extending the list of conditions that qualify for an abortion in the state.

“I just want them to consider special circumstances as it relates to abortion...medical problems, like this is one that needs to be in that,” she said.

Ms Davis isn’t the only person who has dealt with similar circumstances in recent weeks.

A New Orleans doctor, Valerie Williams, testified in an affidavit that she was prevented from giving a patient an abortion even though they were carrying a nonviable fetus. Ms Williams testified that the patient was “screaming — not from pain, but from the emotional trauma she was experiencing.”

Jezebel reported that the woman eventually delivered after hours, losing a litre of blood in the process.

The denial of abortion care to people experiencing serious issues with their pregnancies has become a recurring feature of the news landscape over the last several months in Louisiana and beyond as doctors in certain states have been forced to change the care they offer patients, including victims of sexual assault.

There are other issues potentially at play in the denial of abortion care as well. Louisiana currently has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the nation, with Black Louisianans who often face disproportionate barriers to access quality healthcare highly affected.

Sen Bill Cassidy, an opponent of abortion rights, appeared to brush off the issue in a May interview with Politico in which he said “About a third of our population is African American; African Americans have a higher incidence of maternal mortality. So, if you correct our population for race, we’re not as much of an outlier as it’d otherwise appear. Now, I say that not to minimize the issue but to focus the issue as to where it would be.”

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