Abortion bans should prohibit abortion
In the recent stunning development from the United States Supreme Court, a leaked draft opinion for the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case indicated that the right to abortion would be overturned.
In the fallout, headlines appeared warning women that if the decisions Roe vs. Wade and Family planning c. Casey reversed, their access to health care would be compromised, not only for abortion, but also their treatment for ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages.
While news reports state “Flip Roe v. Wade will make it harder to deal with miscarriages” and “Return deer It could make ectopic pregnancies extremely dangerous,” some life advocates say there should be no cause for concern and to say otherwise is playing on the agenda of life advocates. abortion.
As a Christian woman who has been involved in the pro-life movement for over a decade, both professionally and personally, it is deeply important to me that the pro-life movement always provide the utmost care and attention to to both a woman and her unborn child. .
I worked on Capitol Hill sponsoring a lot of pro-life legislation, like the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, and I did volunteering with local pregnancy centers, advocating for foster children, and now my husband and I are adopting.
Statistics show that around 10-20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, which is when the embryo or fetus does not survive 20 weeks gestation. In an ectopic pregnancy (only 1-2% of the time), the embryo implants incorrectly outside the uterus, posing a significant risk to the life of the mother. These are the leading causes of maternal death in the first trimester of pregnancy in North America.
A ruptured ectopic pregnancy during the first trimester accounts for 10-15% of all maternal deaths. These pregnancies are not considered viable and doctors must act quickly to save the life of the mother. Even if a mother was willing to sacrifice her life, the baby would still die because it is not implanted in a place where it can grow.
The medical options used to treat some miscarriages, as well as some ectopic pregnancies, may be the same or similar to those prescribed for an abortion. It is therefore imperative to carefully define our terms. Making matters even more confusing: A miscarriage may be labeled with medical terminology as a “spontaneous” or “missed” abortion, although it is not an abortion in the most common use of the word. .
These procedures include dilation and curettage (in which the fetus is surgically removed) or dilation and evacuation (in which a tube-guided vacuum removes fetal tissue from the uterus). Medications called mifepristone and misoprostol can also be used for miscarriages and are the most popular forms of abortion in the United States.
Miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies can be extremely traumatic experiences, physically, mentally and emotionally, but it is important to point out that they are markedly different from elective abortions, and any confusion in language can further traumatize many women.
Treating a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy is not the same as intentionally aborting an unborn life. In such tragic and dangerous cases, protecting the life of the mother is the ethical and moral mandate.
Most people who worry about women’s access to health care after the Dobbs ruling don’t usually refer to these particular cases. They advocate that access to abortion, for any reason, at any time, should not be restricted. However, as pro-life Christians, we need to be aware of the legal nuances and potential pitfalls in the policy-making process instead of assuming that this will always be a simple black-and-white issue.
“What worries me for many who come deep within the pro-life movement is that concerns like this can sometimes be dismissed out of hand as ‘abortion rights propaganda’. “,” said Kelly Rosati, children’s rights advocate and former vice president of children’s rights advocacy at Focus. on the Family. “And it can happen, for example, when abortion-rights supporters refuse to admit that it’s even possible to have laws written to properly and adequately address those concerns.”
“I think it’s really important to avoid both extremes,” she says.
Amid online misinformation, which can cause scary conversations, it’s important to analyze the truth. To do this, we must first understand why the Dobbs case is so important and why this unique case could actually overturn the Roe decision.
The Mississippi Gestational Act – the law the Supreme Court is considering in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case—defines abortion as follows:
the act of using, prescribing or administering any instrument, substance, device or other means for the purpose of terminating a pregnancy in the knowledge that the termination will result, with a reasonable probability, in the death of an unborn child .
The law specifies that it is not considered an abortion “if the act is performed for the purpose of removing an unborn child caused by spontaneous abortion or removing an ectopic pregnancy”.
There are currently no policies in place prohibiting the treatment of miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies, and many laws similarly exclude such circumstances from the definition of abortion. And yet, several bills have sounded the alarm for some women that access to treatment for miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy could be inadvertently impacted.
For example, an abortion restriction bill was originally proposed in Ohio in 2019 advocating the reimplantation of ectopic pregnancies – citing the use of a non-existent and medically impossible procedure – but was struck down. during hearings. The Ohio lawmaker behind the bill later admitted he hadn’t researched ectopic pregnancies beforehand.
Another proposed abortion restriction bill in Ohio, currently in the hearing, would provide an exception for life-threatening cases. However, some say the bill needs further tweaking, arguing that the rules outlining these exceptions have too many complicated stipulations, including the requirement to have immediate access to a neonatal intensive care unit, which could put a woman’s life at risk if she has an ectopic pregnancy and does not live near a facility.
In Missouri, the House committee recently amended a bill prohibiting the sale or importation of abortion-inducing drugs, which previously had no exception for ectopic pregnancies. In Texas, some are already saying they are having trouble getting a woman prescribed medication for her baby who dies early to help her body release the pregnancy.
It is important to remember that the introduction of a bill is not the same as a state level bill becoming law. Still, state lawmakers should ensure that any proposed legal policy allows for life-threatening exceptions, including prompt care for miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy.
State legislators who rightly wish to pass laws that protect life must be careful and specific in the language they use to ensure that doctors are not embarrassed in their treatment of women who have suffered miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies. Any proposed policy should make it clear that no woman facing these pregnancy complications will experience delay or difficulty in accessing care.
Thousands of pro-life hospitals and medical clinics do not offer abortions, but routinely treat women with miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies. And amid these new fears, we need to ensure the same medical options are available to these women as they have been for decades.
Indeed, we must advocate for all women, especially those at greatest risk in our society, to have access to life-saving maternal care that is both effective and affordable.
Chelsea Sobolik serves as Director of Public Policy with the Ethics and Religious Freedom Commission. She is the author of Desire for motherhood – Keeping hope in the midst of childlessnessand a forthcoming book on women and work.
Speaking Out is Christianity Today’s guest opinion column and (unlike an editorial) does not necessarily represent the opinion of the publication.