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A Florida doctor speaks out about the state's recent six-week abortion ban

Schickler now has to tell patients that they cannot have an abortion because of the new law.

When Florida's six-week abortion ban went into effect on Wednesday, Dr. Robyn Schickler, CMO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, on counseling patients who may seek an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

Schickler recently had to inform her patients that Florida does not offer abortion services and refer them to surrounding states that do. She explains that it is difficult to have a conversation.

ABC News Live sat down with Schickler as she discussed Florida's recent abortion ban.

ABC NEWS LIVE: To learn more about Florida's recent abortion ban, we'd like to hear from Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bring in Robyn Schickler from Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. Doctor, thank you very much for joining us. What are your conversations with patients who come to Planned Parenthood for an abortion and are more than six weeks pregnant?

SCHICKLER: Yes. So this is a very difficult conversation. And you know, we actually had to start this before today because there's a 24-hour waiting period in Florida. So there were patients that we treated yesterday and even the day before that we couldn't admit before May 1st. This is a difficult conversation. We tell them we couldn't offer them an abortion in the state of Florida, and we offer them their options. And if they continue to seek an abortion, we have patient advocates who can help them get where they need to go and provide the resources to get where they need to go.

ABC NEWS LIVE: So when you say you give them options, does that mean you give them out-of-state recommendations?

SCHICKLER: Yes. That's why we give them recommendations for different clinics out of state. And if they need something, for example navigation services from us, we can offer that to them.

ABC NEWS LIVE: And I want to back up a little bit because we've heard a lot of conversations about how many women don't even know they're pregnant at six weeks. Is this something you come across too?

SCHICKLER: Yes. The way we date a pregnancy is that we count from the first day of the last menstrual period. This is basically how ultrasound examinations work. So if someone has a regular period, by the time they miss their period it will already have been four weeks. And that gives them little time to even realize that their period has missed. And secondly, to get the care they need. So six weeks is really a tiny amount of time. And most patients I've seen in my practice don't know it until the sixth week.

ABC NEWS LIVE: And what are you hearing from these patients right now, particularly in terms of them needing to seek care outside of the state of Florida?

SCHICKLER: These patients are frustrated. You know, and it's a mix. Some patients are aware of what is going on. Some people are busy in their lives and don't have the time to keep track of everything that's going on. And so they hear for the first time that we can't take care of them. You are frustrated. You are crazy. They have just come to seek medical care and now they are being told that they cannot and that they must travel hundreds, if not thousands of miles from their home, out of the state of Florida to get that care .

ABC NEWS LIVE: And with the six-week lockdown now in effect, what concerns you most about the physical and emotional health of a pregnant person?

SCHICKLER: Yes, I think, you know, people will continue pregnancies that put them at high risk for physical, mental and emotional harm, fear and suffering. And I think we're going to see an increase in things like maternal morbidity or sick women who are pregnant because we can't intervene before that happens.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Can you tell us what's next? Because as you said, even if no one can define what it means to put the mother's life at risk, there is much that is still not known. And I know there is an amendment on the ballot for the November election to limit the power of government. Tell us what this amendment is intended to achieve.

SCHICKLER: Yes. So this amendment is really about taking back our rights. It's about accessing medical care and receiving that medical care without the state interfering in that care. And we have earned that right, our patients have earned that right – to receive the health care they need. And abortion is part of that medical care for many people.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Dr. Robin Schickler, we thank you very much for your time and insight. Really appreciate it.

SCHICKLER: Thank you.

Anna Harden

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