Money cannot save women from emergencies criminalized by abortion ban

As five states implement near-total abortion bans after the fall of Roe v. Wade, politicians and abortion advocates say the bans disproportionately impact low-income women and suggest wealthy people will be able to easily circumvent the restrictions.

“If an extremist Supreme Court overturns Roe, wealthy women will still be able to have abortions safely – by traveling to another state or country,” said Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren. tweeted in May. “But women of color, those with low incomes, and victims of abuse will suffer the most. Congress must eliminate the filibuster and protect Roe.”

While abortion will be easier to access for those with the funds to cross state lines or ship medicine across the country, even the wealthy will not be protected from medical emergencies that require an abortion. and are restricted in states like Missouri and Arkansas.

The legislative language of Missouri’s abortion ban, for example, is “incredibly narrow,” said Lisa Larson-Bunnell, a Kansas City-area health care regulatory attorney at St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and doctors fear they won’t. be legally able to intervene in a medical emergency requiring an abortion until a pregnant woman is close to certain death.

“It’s a really serious problem,” Larson-Bunnell told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It’s something that doctors and lawyers across the state are trying to figure out.”

Ectopic pregnancies, which occur when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, are one of the leading causes of maternal death in the first trimester. Nearly 2% of pregnancies – or 1 in 50 – are ectopic, according to statistics published by American Family Physician and in virtually all cases the embryo will not survive beyond the first trimester. These pregnancies are emergencies that require an abortion to save the mother’s life, and delaying treatment can lead to sepsis or other internal infection and death.

Likewise, placental abruptions are an urgent medical emergency in which the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before birth. To avoid heavy bleeding, kidney failure, and possible death, medical treatment—sometimes including abortion—should be given immediately.

Regardless of a patient’s wealth or ability to fund out-of-state travel for an abortion, such medical emergencies will impact women across the country. And, because doctors are required to navigate legal logistics to determine if a patient meets the criteria for a medical exemption, their patients’ lives are in great danger.

“It’s very scary and confusing for the doctors and the whole team looking after the patients to know what can be done, what is working and what is not?” Dr. Lisa Harris, an obstetrician and professor at the University of Michigan, told NPR.

“How imminent must death be? There are many conditions that people have when they get pregnant, they are fine in early pregnancy, but as the pregnancy progresses, it puts enormous stress on all the organ systems of the body – the heart, the lungs, kidneys. So they can be fine right now – there is no life-threatening emergency now – but in three, four or five months they could have deadly consequences. »

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