Morgan Guthrie was still asleep on June 24 when the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was announced. She woke to a text from her mother: “Don’t look at the news.”
Guthrie, a sophomore, is one of many pre-med students returning to IU’s campus after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision and the passage of Indiana’s Senate Bill 1, which banned abortion starting Sept. 15 except in cases of rape, incest or risks posed to the life of the pregnant person, according to NPR. Now, students working to become the next generation of OB-GYNs are facing complicated choices about their futures.
“It’s really scary,” Guthrie said. “It just makes you wonder what’s going to happen next.”
Guthrie said she wasn’t surprised when she heard that Roe v. Wade had been overturned, but she said the decision rattled people she knew. She said many of the pre-med students she knows are still set on becoming OB-GYNs, but they’re scared to consider practicing in Indiana in the future.
“If you’re young like me, and you can go anywhere to practice, you probably won’t want to go to a red state, where your license can be taken away or you can’t provide the best care for your patients,” Guthrie said. “You work so hard for this moment to become a doctor, so much work and money and effort, and you’re not going to want to put that at risk.”
Guthrie and her friends aren’t alone. According to a recent NPR article, many young OB-GYNs are considering leaving Indiana, likely leaving some women without access to care.
Related: [Protestors march to controversial Women’s Care Center during abortion rights protest
The article places some of the blame on the media attention surrounding Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indiana doctor and abortion provider who provided an abortion to a 10-year old girl from Ohio before the Indiana ban. She was heavily criticized by conservative media outlets and Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita.
Ada Port, a senior studying molecular life science on the pre-med track at IU, said she was heartbroken to hear about Bernard and the young girl’s situation. People want to blame abortions on poor decisions, Port said, but abortions are necessary for many reasons.
Port said she doesn’t know exactly how the Roe decision will affect her future, but she can see it affecting where she lives. More than that, though, she said it’ll affect her future patients.
“I think a lot of doctors in the gynecology field will not want to be in states where there are abortion bans,” Port said. “I think that’ll limit those states’ access to good women’s healthcare when it already is so hard to find.”
Port was diagnosed with endometriosis while she was at IU and, while a painful process, it’s what solidified her interest in the profession. But the condition is linked to pregnancy risks and could require termination, which may become illegal under Indiana law as of Sept. 15.
Related: [State legislators representing Bloomington release statements on Roe v. Wade decision
A majority of Indiana legislators support the ban, passing the House 62-38 and the Senate 28-19, and the Indiana public has shown support across social media.
L.W., a sophomore on the pre-med track, plans on becoming an OB-GYN and opening her own practice, she said. L.W. has asked not to be named in the story for privacy reasons.
She said she doesn’t want to practice anywhere with strict abortion laws, including her home state of Missouri and “most likely” Indiana.
It’s important for doctors to make the women they’re treating comfortable, L.W. said. For her, the Indiana ban added more stress to her life. She has long-term career goals, she said, and having a child would knock her off that path.
She said her mom regaled her with tips on how to stay safe after the SB1 vote, but she feels IU hasn’t done anything. None of her professors, except for an ethics debate class, have even mentioned the change. Students, though, have spoken out, shared resources and protested, she said.
“That definitely makes me feel more comfortable on campus, that more people feel the same way that I do,” L.W. said. “IU as an institution I don’t think has done a whole bunch, but I do think the students are working hard.”