No, ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages will not be criminalized
Ericka Andersen | But pro-abortion advocates want you to think otherwise
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In the immediate aftermath of the leaked majority Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, pro-abortion advocates began spreading misinformation about what might happen to women having miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies.
As one abortion proponent tweeted, complete with a siren and red exclamation mark emojis, a new state law will “make sure abortion criminalization covers ectopic pregnancies.” A doctor on Twitter also claimed pro-lifers want to “ban” treatment for ectopic pregnancies. Mother Jones asked if “every miscarriage will be a potential crime?”
That’s enough to induce an anxiety attack in a newly pregnant woman. Thankfully, the headlines and superficial claims are just fake news.
Dr. Christina Francis, chairman of the board of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, called the rumors “fearmongering” and doesn’t know of “a single state law that would limit a physician’s ability” to care for women with ectopic pregnancies or miscarriages.
In terminating a pregnancy, intent matters—and that’s something pro-abortion advocates don’t make clear. An abortion, by definition, is the deliberate termination of a human life.
Necessary medical care for an ectopic pregnancy that results in the death of an unborn child doesn’t meet that description. The intent is not to kill. Lawmakers must take care to create ultra-specific language to clarify this reality in their bills.
Some have pointed to language like the wording in a Louisiana bill that states that an abortion would be illegal for any “individual human being from fertilization until birth.” Pro-abortion proponents assert this means that treatment for an ectopic pregnancy would be considered an illegal abortion. This is simply false. Legislative language, however, should explicitly include terminology that carves out medical “exceptions” to ensure clarity.
In 2019, a badly written bill in Ohio said that doctors must “reimplant an ectopic pregnancy,” which is not even possible. Lawmakers quickly stripped the bill of the language, but the legacy of such outrageous wording remains. The fact that this part of the bill was ever made public raises concerns and sounds alarming. Pro-life legislators must not be so careless.
As for a miscarriage, sometimes referred to as “spontaneous abortion,” there is no language in any law that would criminalize this, nor evidence that anyone supports it. There are more than 600 Catholic hospitals in the United States, and though none provide abortions, all treat ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages without question.
Dr. Francis recalls her days working at a Catholic hospital in residency, where she treated thousands of patients with miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies. The distinction between abortion and an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage is clear within the medical community. Laws, Francis said, might outlaw a “certain procedure,” but the necessary removal of the child would never be illegal.
Chelsey Youman is an attorney and the national legislative adviser to the Human Coalition, a pro-life advocacy group. She’s adamant that there is “no law that would outlaw ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage treatment,” adding, “All of those treatments are done with the intent to treat a healthcare diagnosis. Not with the intent to end the life of an innocent human being, and that’s a very important distinction to make.”
Another common misconception is that abortions are necessary when unborn children suffer from fetal anomalies. There are few parameters to define which conditions are fatal, and studies show that 90 percent of babies born with congenital abnormalities live to at least 5 years old. Many families choose abortion when told their child will die at birth or suffer in some way. While it is understandable to want to eliminate pain for baby and mother, these families aren’t always informed of other options.
Dr. Francis has spoken with women who struggled to find a physician who supported their decision to continue their pregnancies in such situations. As one woman related, her physician’s office hounded her to consider an abortion after she repeatedly told them no. Another said that when she was given a tragic diagnosis at her 13-week ultrasound, she was immediately pelted with pamphlets on where to get an abortion, despite wanting to continue her pregnancy until delivery.
One increasingly popular option is perinatal hospice, a growing and vital network of centers that provide care for terminally ill children. Many women aren’t even aware such a program exists, and it is rarely presented to them as an option, though facilities are found in nearly every state.
“We know that mental health outcomes are better for people who choose this option,” Francis said. “They are able to acknowledge the dignity of the life of this child and walk through that normal grieving process.”
Abortion proponents are using scare tactics. “The abortion movement is a dying movement,” Youman noted. “In that desperation, they’re grasping at lots of straws out there.”
That’s exactly what they are doing. And it’s now time to speak the truth.
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