How Abortion Bans—Even With Medical Emergency Exemptions—Impact Healthcare

Christina Zielke went to an ER in Ohio bleeding profusely while experiencing a miscarriage. This was in early September, before the state’s 6-week abortion ban was put on hold by a judge. What happened to her next is an example of how new state abortion laws can affect medical care in emergency situations.

Doctors who run afoul of these laws face the threat of felony charges, prison time and the loss of their medical license.

NPR’s Selena Simmons-Duffin reports that some doctors are asking themselves a tough question: when they are forced to choose between their ethical obligations to patients and the law, should they defy the law?

Selena’s story about Zielke is part of NPR’s series, Days & Weeks, documenting how new abortion laws are affecting people’s lives.

In participating regions, you’ll also hear a local news segment to help you make sense of what’s going on in your community.

Email us at