Women Who Had Ectopic Pregnancy React to Ohio Anti-Abortion Bill
In this round of “look at all these politicians trying to control women’s bodies in dangerous ways,” GOP lawmakers have introduced an anti-abortion bill in the Ohio state legislature that would force doctors to attempt to “re-implant” an ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy that grows outside the uterus, either in the fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, or abdominal cavity, into a patient’s uterus. (It’s also the leading cause of maternal mortality in the first trimester.)
But, uh, hello: This state-mandated “procedure” is medically impossible. An ectopic pregnancy will never result in a live birth, and an embryo that implants outside the uterus cannot be placed inside the uterus successfully. It simply cannot be done. (Just ask every. Single. Doctor.)
Yet, anti-abortion politicians, none of whom have medical degrees, have rallied around the bill for a second time. If passed and implemented, physicians who refuse to attempt this nonexistent procedure would be jailed for “abortion murder.” Cool-cool-cool. Seems totally normal.
Close to 20 in 1,000 pregnancies in North America result in an ectopic pregnancy.
This bill has been labeled extreme and it a hundred percent is. But as someone who has survived an ectopic pregnancy—and was saved by abortion providers—this latest iteration of the GOP’s continued war on pregnant people is particularly devastating. My ectopic pregnancy was detected early, due in no small part to the privilege of having adequate health insurance and living in a city where reproductive health providers are easy to find and access. Instead of emergency surgery, I was given a medication that stopped the pregnancy from continuing and allowed my body to absorb it. I was already the mother to a young child, so the mere thought of losing my life due to a medical emergency was terrifying. Ending the pregnancy was necessary, and not once did I consider any alternative.
Close to and no one knows how horrific this latest anti-abortion bill is better than the people who’ve endured this painful, often traumatic, and potentially fatal experience. Cosmopolitan spoke to five women who’ve survived ectopic pregnancies and below, they share what it actually feels like and their reactions to the recent bill.
“If this was the 1800s, I would be dead. This would be a death sentence.”
In 2010, when I was 29, I decided that I no longer wanted to take the pill. I was in a relationship at the time, so while I realized that there was a greater chance of getting pregnant, I thought it was worth the extra risk.
I had what I thought was my period about five or six weeks after stopping the pill. Except it wasn’t a period. One day, I was trying to produce a lengthy marketing proposal at my job but doubled over in terrible pain. I had to walk into my boss’s office and tell him how much pain I was in. I was in complete tears.
I had an ultrasound and it was as they had suspected: I was pregnant in my right fallopian tube, which had ruptured, and I was bleeding internally. They sent me to the ER where I was immediately given very large doses of narcotics for pain. Six hours later, they removed the ectopic pregnancy and my right fallopian tube during surgery.
I remember driving to the ER with my boyfriend and saying, “If this was the 1800s, I would be dead. This would be a death sentence.”
I was devastated. I also had no idea if I could still have children. But I did get pregnant very shortly after the surgery, and because of the ectopic history, I had to be tested every two days to make sure my hormone levels were normal.
I miscarried after eight weeks.
While grieving, I may have thought or even said out loud that I would have given my life to save my child’s. That said, I am and always will remain adamantly opposed to the state having any say in what any woman does with her pregnancy. The idea that an ectopic pregnancy can be re-implanted into the uterus is ludicrous to me. I would consider that torture.
Later on, I met a woman who lost both of her fallopian tubes to ectopic pregnancies. But at least she was still alive. —Jessy, 39
“I was out of work for six weeks.”
I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant. All my labs came back normal but at nine weeks, it was too soon to do an ultrasound. We had no idea the pregnancy was ectopic until it was too late.
I woke up the morning of Nov. 5, 2016, in excruciating pain. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t use the bathroom—it was awful. I called the on-call service for my OB and they told me to try drinking water and take some Tylenol. I did and it didn’t help, so about two hours later, I went to the emergency room. There, I went through more labs, waiting, and finally an ultrasound to reveal that the pregnancy was ectopic and had ruptured. I had emergency surgery, and when they went in, they found that the embryo had implanted on the small space between the fallopian tube and my right ovary. When the embryo ruptured, it damaged my right ovary beyond repair and they had to remove it. They also found that my abdomen had a liter of blood in it, so all of that had to be cleaned out.
I had to recover from major abdominal surgery, so I spent a day and a half in the hospital. I was out of work for six weeks. But it took me three years to recover emotionally. In January 2017, I found out we were pregnant again. But a month later, I miscarried. Fast-forward to today, I now have a thriving 14-month-old daughter but still have to take precautions if and when I want to get pregnant again.
If a doctor told me they could go in and move my pregnancy to my uterus and my baby would have grown and been healthy, I would have immediately said yes. But you can’t do that. You can only abort the non-viable pregnancy. And that’s what it is, non-viable.
“The most painful experience in my life was a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.”
Unfortunately, I’ve had two ectopic pregnancies. The first happened when my second child was about 3 months old. I became pregnant as soon as my period started again after delivery. I knew something was wrong right away because I had bleeding, cramping in one side, pregnancy symptoms, and pain. I went to my ob-gyn, who lectured me on becoming pregnant so soon after my last pregnancy. (Great, thank you, very helpful.) They treated me by injecting me with a medication called methotrexate, which can stop an ectopic pregnancy if administered soon enough. Thankfully, that worked.
It is profoundly dangerous to suggest that an ectopic pregnancy can be transplanted. It may stop women from seeking life-saving treatment, because they so desperately want the pregnancy to be viable.
I was told that having another ectopic was unlikely, so I never thought of it as a possibility when, two years later, I felt more pain. I thought it was a bladder infection. I had no pregnancy symptoms, but I was rushed into the ER with dangerous vital signs. That’s when I learned I had an ectopic pregnancy that was nearly eight weeks along. I would need urgent, life-saving surgery to have the non-viable embryo removed, along with my right fallopian tube. This was incredibly traumatic. The surgery was successful, but I would never have chosen this.
I have delivered three children and had two rounds of IFV. The most painful experience in my life was a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.
It is egregious that these politicians are using their legislative power to practice medicine without a license. The very fact that an ectopic pregnancy is always fatal if left untreated long enough shows that these politicians do not care about the women that this impacts.
It is profoundly dangerous to suggest that an ectopic pregnancy can be transplanted. It may stop women from seeking lifesaving treatment, because they so desperately want the pregnancy to be viable. It is a slap in the face to suggest that women choose to end ectopic pregnancies. The threat of jailing surgeons who save these women’s lives is infuriating.
“We were having sex, and it was so incredibly painful that I almost passed out.”
My husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for about five months when we finally saw a positive test. But while I was traveling for work, I started bleeding pretty heavily. I thought I was miscarrying. As soon as I got home, I went to the doctor and they gave me a pregnancy test that came back as a very faint positive. So I just went on my way. About 10 days later, we were having sex, and it was so incredibly painful that I almost passed out. I went to the doctor immediately. They took an ultrasound and didn’t see anything. That’s how they knew it was ectopic—there was nothing implanted in my uterus, despite the positive test result.
I remember my doctor telling me it was an ectopic pregnancy and I had never even heard of that. My doctor said, “There’s a reason you don’t hear about them,” basically alluding to the fact that it’s a very terrible experience and people don’t want to talk about terrible things. They didn’t do anything immediately, but when I came back in, they did more blood work and basically gave me a shot in my butt that stopped the cells from growing. Because I wasn’t super far along, they weren’t concerned about it rupturing. They felt they were catching it early enough.
I went back to the doctor the next month and, yeah, that was it.
When any politician is telling me what I can and can’t do, that is terrifying. Since the ectopic pregnancy, I’ve had a baby girl, and the delivery was life-threatening. I just remember feeling so scared and thinking that I wasn’t coming out of that delivery room. So the idea of a politician putting me in that position is disgusting. But I guess that’s where we are now. —Ashley, 34
“It’s just ridiculous that you’d put a bill like this out there without consulting medical professionals.”
My husband and I tried to get pregnant through infertility treatments and we waited two weeks to see if I was pregnant. I had bleeding right at the two-week mark, and I took a home pregnancy test that turned out negative. I figured, “Oh, bummer. It didn’t work this cycle,” and that was it. Then I went to the doctor’s office to get a blood test and it showed I was pregnant. So of course I was like, “Oh my gosh, what is going on?” because I was still bleeding pretty substantially. My doctor thought it could be an ectopic pregnancy.
At six weeks, when you should see something growing in the uterus, there was nothing, so I took a dose of methotrexate, the medicine that can stop an ectopic pregnancy. But a few days later, I started getting really bad, doubled-over pain and cramps in my abdomen. That’s when I went into the hospital.
They did an ultrasound and a pregnancy exam and the doctor said, “I’m pretty sure it’s an ectopic pregnancy that either did rupture or is about to. We should do surgery to remove it or you can be admitted to the hospital and wait however many days until it resolves itself or we do surgery anyway.”
My sister and my husband were in the room and we asked the doctor, “Can you move it? If you find it, can you put it in the uterus?” and the doctor said, “That’s not possible.” So I chose to do the surgery.
I don’t have an eloquent way to say it, but it’s ridiculous that you’d put a bill like this out there without consulting medical professionals. —Christina, 38
This content was originally published here.