The fall of Roe V. Wade garnered reactions from cardiologists across the country, many emphasizing the burden pregnancy places on the heart– literally– and how the Supreme Court’s decision may endanger patients.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of pregnancy-related death in the US, making cardiologists a key part of at-risk pregnant patients’ care teams. Cardiologists may discuss these patients’ CV health risks, the risks to the fetus, and the relative safety of continuing the pregnancy versus undergoing pregnancy termination.
Now, state lawmakers have the power to restrict the scope of these discussions. While most state abortion bans provide exceptions for pregnancies threatening the mother’s life, experts say the definition of “lifesaving” is murky.
- Georgetown University law professor, Lawrence Gostin, explained how the vague language leaves cardiologists and other physicians’ criminal liability up in the air. “At best, it will make physicians hesitate to save the life of a woman; at worst, outright refuse to.”
The Consequences for cardiologists and other clinicians who breach abortion bans also vary widely by state, ranging from losing a medical license to life in prison.
Cardiology societies widely criticized the SCOTUS ruling, citing concerns about the integrity of patient-physician relationships, including this statement by The American College of Cardiology:
“The College is deeply concerned about the potential implications of the Supreme Court decision regarding Roe v. Wade on the ability of patients and clinicians to engage in important shared discussions about maternal health, or to remove previously available health care options, especially given the alarming maternal health crisis in the U.S.”
Cardiology leaders made it clear that the decision to overturn the landmark ruling will have downstream consequences for cardiologists. Exactly what those consequences will look like will vary by state, and are still shrouded in ambiguity.