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Texas Medical Board guidance on when abortion is acceptable lacks clarity, say critics

BMJ 2024; 385 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.q785 (Published 02 April 2024) Cite this as: BMJ 2024;385:q785
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. New York

Guidance from the Texas Medical Board that aimed to clarify when doctors in the state could provide an abortion without facing legal charges has been criticised as confusing and overly burdensome.

Since 2021 abortion has been banned in Texas after the point when fetal cardiac activity can be detected, usually at about six weeks of pregnancy. Exceptions to the ban are limited to a “medical emergency.” Abortions in the state, which has a population of about 31 million, have fallen since the ban, from more than 50 000 in 2021 to 23 in 2023.12

Doctors faced problems in defining a medical emergency when a patient had complications of pregnancy such as premature rupture of membranes or when the fetus had fatal abnormalities but there was still cardiac …

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