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Indiana physicians sound alarm on community impact of impending abortion ban

A round sign propped up against a wall, white text against a blue background, that reads "Keep Abortion" with the word "Legal" slightly obscured.
Lauren Chapman
IPB News
Indiana physicians worry the state's near-total abortion ban will exacerbate existing problems with maternal and infant health.

Indiana physicians are sounding the alarm on the impact they say the state’s impending abortion ban will have not just on pregnant people, but the entire community.

The law is currently on hold, but largely expected to take effect in the near future. And it will ban more than 90 percent of the abortions traditionally performed in Indiana.

Dr. Katie McHugh, an OB-GYN, said the most obvious effect is on maternal and infant mortality — two areas where Indiana is already among the worst in the country.

But she said the impact is far broader.

“When people who are pregnant cannot function, cannot work, they are busy taking care of families that they did not have the control to expand when they were ready, the entire family structure suffers and all members of the community are impacted,” McHugh said.

READ MORE: Indiana’s near-total abortion ban was set to take effect Aug. 1. Here’s what you need to know

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The abortion ban will likely also affect the future of medicine in the state. Dr. Ric Henderson is a second-year medical resident. She said as she decides where to practice, the abortion ban has made her and other new doctors hesitant to stay in Indiana.

“It’s the direct result of the state legislation introducing fear into our medical practices,” Henderson said.

A quarter of Indiana’s counties are already maternity care deserts, meaning they have no hospitals or birthing care centers, according to the March of Dimes.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.