Understanding the implementation and impact of legal exceptions on people with high-risk pregnancies in Georgia
Awarded 2023
High-risk pregnancy care, post-Dobbs
Nisha Verma, MD, MPH
Emory University School of Medicine

In 2022, Georgia enacted a law that bans most abortions in the state after approximately six weeks. This law contains exceptions for “medical emergency” and “medically futile pregnancy.” Clinicians in Georgia and other states have struggled to navigate exceptions, which often create confusion and uncertainty. These exceptions raise questions such as what risk of death a patient must be facing to receive abortion care, and how imminent that risk needs to be. They also place value judgements on what type of risk is and is not acceptable for people to take on during pregnancy. In Georgia, institutions providing abortion care have grappled with how to provide guidance to their clinicians attempting to navigate these exceptions, while also protecting clinicians and institutions from criminal prosecution. However, there is limited data on how institutions are adjusting to the current landscape or on best practices to maximize care provision in a restrictive environment. In addition, there has been limited data on how abortion restrictions post-Dobbs have shifted the understandings of “high-risk pregnancy” and the risk assessments that clinicians, patients, and their loved ones are making. This study will use a community-engaged, mixed methods approach and build on existing and ongoing research, stories, and media reports to assess the implementation and impact of legal exceptions on people with high-risk pregnancies in Georgia. We are particularly interested in expanding understanding of how a restrictive law has been operationalized to affect high-risk pregnancy care and pregnancy-risk assessments at the institution, clinician, and patient/support person level.