Sigh. Here we go again. Or maybe not again, but rather, here we still are. Still arguing that a woman’s health and life are insignificant. That a woman has no right to make choices about what gets poked and prodded into her. That she has no say in what happens to her reproductive system. That ironically (and absurdly), those who claim to be “pro-life” are willing to risk a woman’s life by denying her a critical medical procedure that could save not only the mother herself, but also possibly save her chances to have children in the future.
This is more than just a debate about abortion and a woman’s right to choose whether she carries a pregnancy to term, has her innards ripped open, and has her life and body changed forever.
This is about ectopic pregnancies, which are in no way viable. And which can threaten a woman’s life if they go untreated. Ectopic pregnancies are rare, only occurring in about 2% of pregnancies, but are vital to the conversation about women having control over their own bodies. Why? Because for that small percentage of women whose doctors diagnose this abnormality, this can be a life-or-death situation.
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when “a fertilized egg implants somewhere outside the uterus — usually in the fallopian tube, a tiny structure connecting the uterus to the ovary. If the pregnancy continues to grow and develop, the tube can rupture, and the pregnant person can hemorrhage and die.”
Again, in case you missed it, the pregnant person can hemorrhage and DIE.
“But what about the innocent life inside her?” some pro-lifers say.
Okay, here’s the thing: a fetus cannot grow inside a fallopian tube. Ever. In fact, a fetus cannot grow and develop anywhere other than the uterus.
ECTOPIC PREGNANCIES ARE NOT VIABLE PREGNANCIES.
So anti-abortion activists can take their “abortion is
murder” rants elsewhere because they literally have no merit here. A pregnancy occurring outside of the uterus has 0% chance of survival.
But as always, there are those who do not listen to silly doctors, and do not believe in allowing women to do ridiculous things like make the safest choices for their own health. Instead, they all jump on some “protect innocent lives” bandwagon, even though they don’t know the medical facts or don’t believe medical science, and continue to push women farther and farther into some warped totalitarian Handmaid’s Tale-like dimension.
For example, instead of listening to doctors and experts who say no such procedure exists, Ohio lawmakers passed a provision that allows for implantation of an ectopic pregnancy into the uterus rather than medically terminating the non-viable pregnancy. “It is not clear why the bill’s sponsor, Republican state Rep. John Becker, chose to include a provision in the bill for coverage of a procedure that does not exist,” Vox reports. Yet here we are, passing laws about treatments that are made up.
Listen, folks. If you want to jump on a cause—whether it’s women’s rights to govern their own bodies, or gun control, or even whether peanut butter should be allowed in schools, please FFS, know the facts. Like these, for example:
1. An ectopic pregnancy is not viable. Ever.
2. No medical procedure to transplant the ectopic pregnancy into the uterus has yet been developed.
3. An ectopic pregnancy could resolve itself on its own, but delaying or foregoing treatment puts a woman’s health at risk.
4. Ectopic pregnancies are the #1 cause of maternal mortality in the first trimester.
No amount of prayer is going to lead to a fetus growing to term inside a fallopian tube, Martha. Sorry. If you want to pray, pray for that woman who could be in pain. Who could fear for her own life and health. Who may be actively trying to have a baby. Have you thought of that, pro-lifers? Have you thought about the fact that a woman who receives this diagnosis could be devastated beyond measure because she desperately does want to have a child? Have you thought about the repercussions of forcing her to “let nature take its course” and how that could impact her reproductive system and chances at future pregnancies? And how this entire experience could affect her mental health?
I’m not sure you have, which is why we have articles like with this ridiculous justification for risking women’s lives in The Federalist: “Knowing that a medical condition carries a very small chance of death is scary,” anti-abortion activist and writer Georgi Boorman asks. “But, is that very small chance enough to prompt you to suffer through purposely destroying your own child?”
This. Is. Not. A. Child.
Again, if you’re hopping on a bandwagon, know the facts or get off. Otherwise you just sound like a bumbling fool.
Boorman also advocates for processes called “expectant management” or “watchful waiting” (i.e. “seeing what happens”) once an ectopic pregnancy is discovered, rather than medically terminating. She justifies this since “between 47 and 82%” of embryos implanted in the fallopian tubes “die on their own without medical intervention” and, therefore, don’t threaten the mother’s health.
Oh, okay. Sorry, however, to that huge percentage of women (which is apparently somewhere between 18 and 53%…) who may have THEIR lives threatened, I guess they didn’t make the cut on your “lives that matter” chart.
And you know what, Georgi Boorman? Depending on her diagnosis, tests, and ultrasound results, a woman with an ectopic pregnancy may decide, after conferring with her doctor, to possibly “watchfully wait” and see if her body can pass it on its own.
That is her choice. Because it’s her body. And she gets to decide whether to risk further injury to her body or see if the pregnancy passes on its own. Not you. Or the government. And if this terrifying and heart-wrenching situation ever happens to you, you should be able to decide what to do as well. Not anyone else. See how that works?
And you know what else? Fun fact! Many pro-lifers agree that an ectopic pregnancy is non-viable and that a medical procedure performed to terminate this potential life-threatening condition is not abortion.
“Regardless of when I intervene, that pregnancy’s going to die,” Ingrid Skop, a pro-life OB/GYN says. “But if I intervene earlier, then I’m going to leave that mom a much better chance of doing well than if I leave it alone and wait for it to rupture.”
Also, anti-abortion activist Lila Rose said in a recent video that removing an ectopic pregnancy “is not to intentionally kill that child; that’s not an abortion procedure.”
Yet the government and anti-abortion activists like Boorman are still trying to regulate women’s bodies—even on the subject of non-viable ectopic pregnancies.
Thankfully we have the impassioned voices like that of Dr. Jen Gunter, OB/GYN and author The Vagina Bible, to hopefully drown out the oppressive and medically unsound ones like Boorman’s. “If you have never treated a woman with a belly full of blood from an ectopic you should shut the fuck up and sit down and learn before you get someone killed,” Dr. Gunterpassionately tweeted, before sharing graphic tales of ectopic pregnancies, including stories of “shredded” fallopian tubes, massive blood loss, and untreated ectopic pregnancies that resulted in death.
Because that’s the actual medical reality women are facing. At least 18-53% of them, right?
Furthermore, we all know medical science is constantly advancing. Decades ago organ transplants and IVF were just begin to show up in medical journals as possibilities and now they’re successful all over the world. So who knows? Maybe some day an ectopic pregnancy could be transplanted into a uterus and become viable. But no woman should ever be forced to become a science experiment against her will. If the medical community ever gets to the point where this procedure is an option, the pregnant person should decide if and when they’d like to participate.
It’s heartbreaking to think of what a non-viable pregnancy does to a woman. Whether she was trying to get pregnant or not, here she is, faced with devastating news. She’s pregnant, but it won’t last. She might be in extreme pain. She might be afraid for her life. Or her reproductive system. And she might be in anguish over losing a pregnancy.
And to think on top of all of that, she may not be allowed to make her own decisions about what to do? To think that even if her doctor advises a safe treatment that would save her life and improve her chances for future successful pregnancies should she want to be a mother, laws could prohibit that treatment?
How does that make any sense at all?
It doesn’t. And you’re on the wrong bandwagon if you think so.
Dr. Daniel Grossman, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive services at the University of California, San Francisco addresses the dangers of allowing a woman who very much wants this pregnancy to believe there’s a chance. “Often these are desired pregnancies,” he explained. And, he says that if women think they might be viable, this “could lead some patients to really question the advice of their doctor and maybe wait longer before getting the necessary treatment and put their lives at risk.”
Women deserve to know the medical truth, and that is this: an ectopic pregnancy will not result in a baby. And delaying or foregoing treatment could put your life and health at risk.
Take care of yourself. Know your rights. Speak up. Advocate for your own health. And let’s not stop until every woman has the right to govern what goes on inside her body.
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