In 2019, an Ohio bill called for ectopic pregnancies to be reimplanted in the uterus. The bill called on doctors to “take all possible steps to preserve the life of the unborn child, while preserving the life of the woman,” and, in a stellar example of lawmakers literally trying to tell doctors what to do, specified that all possible steps should “include, if applicable, attempting to reimplant an ectopic pregnancy into the woman’s uterus.”
This was “science fiction,” according to one doctor. According to a doctor at Ohio’s most famous medical facility, the Cleveland Clinic, “These pregnancies can never become normal, viable pregnancies.” As a result of that and the dangers they present, “These are pregnancies that you need to disrupt for the mother’s safety. And once you’ve disrupted it, there is no way of implanting it. I don’t think anyone’s ever even considered looking at doing this because it makes no sense from a scientific standpoint.”
The Ohio bill did not pass. But in Texas, the six-week abortion ban (still on the books thanks to a series of courts insisting that they cannot do anything about a law enforced by vigilante action) is preventing doctors from providing the needed care for ectopic pregnancies. At The Lily, Caroline Kitchener reported on a woman with an ectopic pregnancy who had to go to New Mexico, a more than 12-hour trip, for ectopic pregnancy care after both her own doctor and a local emergency room told her that her case did not meet the law’s narrow and vague “medical emergency” exemption.
“If a patient shows up with signs of an ectopic pregnancy, the patient should be in the operating room in less than 12 hours,” a maternal fetal medicine professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine told Kitchener. “You do not have time to send her to another hospital, much less out of state.”
Of course, at the same time as Missouri Republicans consider making it a felony to terminate an ectopic pregnancy, they’re considering blocking people from leaving the state for abortions through an amendment copying the vigilante enforcement mechanism of the Texas abortion ban. So Missouri Republicans really want to sentence women facing ectopic pregnancies to death, refusing them either abortions or the option to cross state lines for health care. Presumably—maybe?—once an ectopic pregnancy ruptures, Missouri doctors would be allowed to provide care for the resulting hemorrhage, but in many cases it could be too late.
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