Friday, May 17, 2019

Anti-Abortion Madness

As states are emboldened to tighten restrictions on abortion, we are reaching a bit of anti-abortion madness leading to some outrageous and offensive results.

Alabama signed into law a near-total ban on abortion including criminalizing the procedure as a Class A felony and providing an exception only when "necessary to prevent a serious health risk."  The law provides no exceptions for rape or incest.

Many other states, like Georgia, have been signing "heartbeat laws," preventing an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected.  These bills generally provide exceptions for rape, incest, and situations where the mother's life is at risk.  There are around 15 heartbeat laws in various stages across the country.

Ohio's law is one of the most baffling and infuriating.  The bill aims to prohibit insurance coverage of abortions, includes two exceptions: one expected and one medically impossible.  There is no exception for rape or incest.

The first exception is one for a "procedure, in an emergency situation, that is medically necessary to save the pregnant woman's life."  The second is a procedure for an ectopic pregnancy, "that is intended to reimplant the fertilized ovum into the pregnant woman's uterus."  That is medically impossible.

In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tubes instead of in the uterus. The pregnancy is not viable and it very often can put the mother's life at risk, running the risk of the fallopian tube rupturing.  The pregnancy either ends in a miscarriage or it is ended with drugs or surgery.

"An ectopic pregnancy cannot move or be moved to the uterus, so it always requires treatment," according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists.

The bill would then have Ohio women waiting until the ectopic pregnancy became life-threatening to get an abortion.

We've been there.  Between Avalyn and Jude, we faced an ectopic pregnancy that went long undiagnosed.  And the experience damn-near killed Jamie.  She's alive by God's grace and our fighting for further examination.

First, it was believed to be a miscarriage, but the D&C procedure did not really reveal anything to have been there in the first place.  Following more pain and bleeding, the ectopic was diagnosed and methotrexate was prescribed.  This is a chemotherapy agent used to treat cancers and to terminate pregnancies, particularly ectopic pregnancies in early stages.  It's the non-surgical option.  That was still followed by more pain and more bleeding, requiring the surgical option, which is the removal of the fallopian tube.  By that time, Jamie had free flowing blood from internal bleeding in her abdomen.

That's nothing anyone should have to suffer through.

And it's especially something that no one should be submitted to because of belief in "magic medical procedures" invented by their legislature.  Our anti-intellectualism at its finest.

It's no wonder states with the worst anti-abortion laws also have the worst infant mortality rates.  Of the 12 states ranked highest in infant mortality rates (including Alabama and Georgia), 11 are described by the abortion rights organization NARAL as imposing "severely restricted access" on abortions.  States with the largest number of abortion restrictions such as mandatory waiting periods, counseling and ultrasounds; restrictions on insurance coverage; and unnecessary standards on ambulatory abortion clinics, tend also to have the fewest supportive policies like Medicaid expansion; family leave; sex- and HIV education programs; and good access to children's health insurance programs.  Experts have connected these dots between abortion restrictions and maternal and infant health problems.  Limits on access to legal abortions lead women to choose unsafe alternatives.  Unintended pregnancies tend to be associated with poor health for women and their children.  And low-income and minority women face difficulties accessing healthcare even under ideal conditions, leading to an economic and racial component to the effects.

Likewise, we've seen that the maternal death rate is on the rise and that most of them are preventable.  700 women each year die in the US due to complications related to pregnancy or childbirth and more than half of them die from preventable causes. From 2000 to 2014, this rate increased 27%.  Going beyond the death statistics, a report by NPR and Propublica found that for every 1 mother who dies 70 women nearly die.  In fact, a woman giving birth in the United States is nearly 3 times as likely to die as a woman giving birth in Canada or the United Kingdom.

Why?  Because we have a system based on the idea that it is rare for a woman to die in childbirth, where funding and resources are dedicated mostly to saving babies, and where the woman's complaints are downplayed or ignored.

We saw this with Jamie.  The day before the surgery to remove the ectopic pregnancy and the fallopian tube, we went to the ER.  The doctor on call did not deem her pain level sufficient enough to call the OBGYN on call nor to request an ultrasound and instead chalked everything up to side effects of the methotrexate.  Thankfully, we demanded an ultrasound, so that at least the next doctor on call would actually look at it (after we left the ER) and see that she needed to be on the operating table right then.

I'm not a supporter of abortion.  I do not like the procedure, I wish it could be done away with.

But our lawmakers are so transparent in their attempts to pass a law that will be challenged so they can take the case to the Supreme Court and attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade that they are not even writing sensible legislation at this point.  They are not writing legislation that will have a positive impact on the health and safety of their constituents.  Instead they are playing dice with the lives of the women and children of their states. 

You can see it clearly in including procedures that come straight out of their science fiction fever dreams.

And they wonder why people compare them to The Handmaid's Tale.

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