Changing practice for a changing political climate: How maternal fetal medicine physicians alter medical management in response to new abortion restrictions
Awarded 2018
Emerging Scholars in Family Planning
Elizabeth Morgan, MD
University of Minnesota

Maternal fetal medicine (MFM) physicians work with multidisciplinary teams to diagnose, counsel, and treat women who present with fetal genetic disorders and congenital anomalies. Often, diagnosis occurs at the time of the 18-20 week anatomy ultrasound. If a woman chooses to terminate after having receiving a devastating prognosis, she often faces many barriers. As an example, in Minnesota, current legislation stipulates a 24-hour waiting period and provision of information on fetal pain as well as the presence of a second physician in the procedure after 20 weeks gestational age. Other states have either passed or are seeking to impose more stringent limits on termination gestational age limits that will directly challenge the timing of our diagnostic tests. Many laws appear to be specifically targeting the timing of this testing, to prevent women from making informed choices about their pregnancies. This project is a phenomenological study querying MFM physicians across the country to identify how recent legislative changes have affected patient care. A planned focus will also identify how changes in state laws have changed burdens on neighboring states’ practices by increasing out of state referrals. Obtaining feedback on the high risk obstetrician’s perspective is a novel approach to investigating an increasingly burdensome health care problem with significant implications for women’s health and reproductive rights.