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'I'm really concerned': Local physician and legal expert weigh in on overturned Roe v. Wade decision

In Missouri, physicians can only perform abortions under a medical emergency, otherwise, they can be prosecuted for a felony and face prison time.

ST. LOUIS — Last week, Obstetrician Gynecologist and Washington University School of Medicine Professor Dr. David Eisenberg treated a woman who was born with a medical condition that makes her pregnancies a threat to her life. 

"More than one in four people will need an abortion in their lifetime," Eisenberg said.

It took six weeks to schedule his patient's abortion procedure.

"I was concerned about the Supreme Court ruling coming down on Friday such that we moved her case up to be the first surgery of the day, so I could make sure she could end her pregnancy. I don't know how we are going to help people like that moving forward," he said.

The United States Supreme Court voted 5-4 majority to overturn Roe v. Wade Friday. 

St. Louis University Law Professor Anders Walker explains the immediate impact that followed in Missouri.

"Attorney General Schmidt almost automatically signed a bill into law banning abortion in the state of Missouri," Walker said.

"I will not be able to provide an abortion for anyone unless they are experiencing a medical emergency," Eisenberg said.

"There's only one exception and that is if the life of the mother is at risk, otherwise it is terminating a pregnancy, and it could be any moment after conception. I don't think there's any time limit placed on it," Walker said.

Physicians who perform the procedure without a medical emergency reasoning could be charged with a Class B felony under Missouri's trigger law on abortion. 

A Class B felony is punishable by 5 to 15 years in prison.

"It is more regulated and more politicized than any other aspect of medicine, despite abortion care being common and literally some of the safest medicine that can be provided," Eisenberg said.

Walker said traditionally abortion cases are handled locally, with many prosecutors deciding not to pursue, but Attorney General Eric Schmidt has the power to prosecute cases himself.

"This is not a blanket ban. It is simply devolving the question to the states, and so now states decide whether to allow the procedure or not," Walker said.

"I'm really concerned that this new reality where we can only care for people having medical emergencies is going to result in many more people having medical emergencies," Eisenberg said.

Eisenberg published research last year that studied states where abortion was restricted compared to states where it was more accessible.

They found that maternal mortality rates in states where abortion access is limited were drastically higher than states that have neutral or protected abortion laws.

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