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Fertility doctor talks gray area in Louisiana's Trigger Law

Trigger Law
Fertility
Posted at 3:27 AM, Aug 08, 2022

On June 8, 2022, Senate Bill 342 was signed into law.

Dr. John Storment, director of Fertility Answers in Lafayette, said there has been concern from families seeking fertility treatment about how Louisiana's Trigger Law may impact them.

As the bill reads now, Storment said In vitro fertilization seems to be safe.

"On the surface, the current law doesn't affect IVF per se."

With over 85% of Louisianans in support of IVF and babies born through IVF, Storment said he is pretty certain that his practice and patients will be protected.

While protected there are exceptions, ones that he has seen in his 30 plus year career.

"Every so often I'll have a patient that gets pregnant, not necessarily through IVF, through ovulation medicine and they ovulate more than two or three eggs," Storment said. "Sometimes that is able to be prevented and sometimes it's not."

That pregnancy, Storment said, immediately becomes high risk.

"A quintuplet pregnancy is going to be high risk, most likely won't make it, often times deliver at 22, 23, 24 weeks, and have five babies in ICU," Storment said. "It's a very expensive, very high risk, and often times multiple medical problems for these kids."

Storment said, a year ago parents had a choice keep going with this extremely high-risk pregnancy or reduce the amount down to two or even one.

Today, in Louisiana, that choice has been taken away.

"A couple who makes this decision isn't making it lightly," Storment said. "They don't want to terminate a pregnancy they're just trying to save their chances of being parents. That's an unintended consequence of this bill."

While this exception is on the extreme end, the sacred relationship a patient once had with their doctor is not.

"The government and legislature have gotten into that equation," Storment said. "You had a very sacred relationship of the patient, her husband, and doctor. Having such a black and white bill makes it impossible to have a dialogue. It interrupts the dialogue between the doctor and the patient."

There is dialogue that Storment said should happen, "I hope that the dialogue becomes, what about this? and leads into modifications of the bill. Maybe we are too strong here and should loosen it up in these situations. I just love the idea of dialogue and compromise to get to the best benefit and stop interfering with that doctor patient relationship."

Another factor that could come into play with Louisiana's Trigger Law:

Miscarriages.

Storment said there are different types of miscarriages and different scenarios that he can envision questions arising.

An incomplete miscarriage is when a person comes to the doctor because they are having some bleeding in the first trimester. An ultrasound is done, and the doctor can still detect a heartbeat, but the cervix is already open meaning the mother is going to miscarry.

"Sometimes, in a clinical situation, they're bleeding very heavily, and you have to into account the amount of blood loss and do you be proactive and do a DNC. I can see how that could be a confusing thing for the doctor."

Storment said this situation, this fear that a doctor may have of breaking the law because technically there is a heartbeat, does that cloud their judgment and stop them from doing what is medically safe for their patient.

Storment added that it could even put doubt in the patients mind of whether or not the doctor is telling them the truth or not trying to risk going to jail.

"It adds another component to the doctor patient relationship that did not exist before this bill," Storment said,

In the end, Storment said, many doctors do have good relationships with their patients and will have to be honest.

"I would just tell them that I don't know how this is going to work out, but I'm going to do what is right for you and we're going to do this--but if we run over bumps along the way and it's interpreted differently than what we're thinking--it may not be as private as you'd want it to be."

Storment said it is a good idea to have these conversations with your doctor, knowing that this bill is in existence, because there may be questions along the way.