INDIANAPOLIS – As a proposed abortion ban advances to the full Indiana Senate, some legal experts and doctors are raising concerns.

The bill moving forward at the Statehouse bans abortion at all times during pregnancy except in cases of rape, incest or substantial risk to the mother’s health.

On Tuesday, lawmakers passed an amendment adding criminal penalties for doctors. Any abortion that doesn’t fall under the allowed exceptions would be a level 5 felony. Doctors who perform an illegal abortion could face one to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

“Doctors won’t know in real time when they are practicing and providing health care what they are allowed to do under this statute,” explained Ashley Hadler, a trial attorney with the Law Office of Garau Germano in Indianapolis.

Hadler said the legislation right now is “vague” and doesn’t give specifics on what’s legal and what isn’t.

“We know in the cases that I handle, civil medical malpractice cases, that reasonable doctors can disagree on what the standard of care requires,” Hadler said.

Dr. Alison Case, a family medicine physician who provides medication abortions and supports abortion access, said she is worried the legislation will cause doctors to become hesitant in some situations.

“They might feel like … they have to delay care because of concerns around this criminality versus doing the right thing for the pregnant person and treating them right away,” Dr. Case said.

Dr. Christina Francis, CEO-elect of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, argues concerns over delays or wrongful prosecutions are “unfounded.”

Dr. Francis said she supports the addition of criminal penalties to the bill but would also like to see more specific rules included under the exception for the mother’s health, as well as a review process for doctors.

“We know how to identify … when her clinical condition is starting to change in such a way that indicates that she could be in a life-threatening situation, even if she’s not currently facing death,” Dr. Francis said.

The full Indiana Senate will consider amendments to the abortion bill Thursday.

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