OBGYN Confirms Abortion Bans Don’t Stop Doctors From Treating Miscarriage, Ectopic Pregnancies

Opinion   |   Dr. Christina Francis and Catherine Glenm Foster   |   Jul 21, 2022   |   10:57AM   |   Washington, DC

We are now living in a post-Roe v. Wade America, and women are already being bombarded by heavy-handed pro-abortion messages suggesting that abortion bans will block access to authentic medical care and treatments. Women in states that enact legislation protecting life, fear-mongering pro-abortion voices shout, won’t be able to receive treatment for pregnancy complications that thousands face every year—from ectopic pregnancy to miscarriage. Recent news articles predict rising maternal mortality rates, describing a world in which doctors, hands tied by austere abortion restrictions, have no choice but to look away while their patients die of sepsis or hemorrhage.

Fortunately for American women, these narratives reflect, at best, a misunderstanding of the facts, and at worst, a deliberate distortion of the truth. In reality, a post-Roe world is much brighter for women and their children—it is one where the dignity of both their lives is respected and where they can receive real health care, not the band-aid of abortion.

The main problem for the pro-abortion narrative is that abortion is, in fact, not necessary to treat pregnancy complications. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, an induced abortion is a procedure intended to terminate a pregnancy so that it does not result in a live birth. In other words, the specific purpose of an induced abortion is to end the life of a preborn child. From a medical standpoint, this is never necessary. This fact is clear in the case of miscarriage management, which in no way involves ending a life, only the removal of an embryo or fetus who is already deceased.

Other difficult pregnancy conditions may require doctors to separate a mother from her preborn child to save her life—but this is not the same as an abortion. For example, even Planned Parenthood acknowledges that managing an ectopic pregnancy—in which the embryo implants outside of the uterus, often causing life-threatening hemorrhage—is not an abortion. Other pregnancy complications, such as chorioamnionitis—an infection of the fetal membranes potentially leading to sepsis—must be treated by separating the mother and preborn child via premature delivery. These treatments are done with the explicit intent of saving the woman’s life. They allow doctors to attempt to preserve the child’s life—or, if that’s not possible, to treat them with the dignity they deserve. Abortion offers preborn children no such respect.

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Laws in even the most pro-life states recognize this difference between abortion and procedures treating pregnancy complications. None of the dozen or more conditional laws that have gone into effect to enact abortion restrictions since Roe v. Wade‘s reversal prevent necessary care for a woman in a life-threatening emergency—even when the methods or tools used for them are the same as those used in abortion.

Abortion laws hinge on the intent. If the action is not done with the primary intention of ending the child’s life, then it is not an abortion. That is why state laws clearly exclude life-saving treatment, including for ectopic pregnancy, from their definitions of abortion. If a statute does not explicitly include a definition, it is pulled from elsewhere in the state code, like Texas’ SB 8, which references a different section of the state’s health and safety code for a definition of abortion that excludes ectopic pregnancy treatment.

As abortion activists are eager to recount, in 2019 a handful of Ohio legislators did introduce an anti-abortion bill requiring doctors to reimplant ectopic pregnancies into the uterus or potentially face charges. However, this bill died in committee after experts pointed out that current technology does not allow doctors to do that. Most pro-life lawmakers understand what an abortion is and isn’t, and we can expect future pro-life bills to reflect this understanding.

As practitioners of medicine and law, our respective experiences underscore the fact that abortion is not necessary to save women’s lives.

From the medical perspective, as a pro-life obstetrician who has served patients facing a wide range of complications, I (Christina Francis) have never once had to perform an induced abortion to save a patient’s life. Neither have I ever been restricted in my ability to treat life-threatening conditions. The pro-life Catholic hospital where I completed my residency allowed me to receive comprehensive training in reproductive health care—so I can equally serve both mothers and preborn children as my patients. Induced abortion has no place in this approach to care, because it deliberately ends the lives of our most vulnerable patients. Killing one’s patients isn’t health care.

From a legal perspective, in my practice, I (Catherine Glenn Foster) learn from doctors how lawmakers can support both mother and child from the earliest moments. We draft life-affirming laws based on the biological reality of human development and the ethical principle that no child ever needs to be intentionally killed.

Some abortion activists are attempting to spark fear about what is actually a positive development in our society. They obscure the fact that reproductive health care can and will thrive without abortion.

In a world where obstetricians serve their pregnant and preborn patients with equal care, we will see improvements in health care quality and maternal outcomes. It is telling that opponents of such a future must lie to stop Americans from embracing it.

LifeNews Note: Dr. Christina Francis, MD, is a board member and CEO-elect of the American Association of Prolife OB/GYNs. Catherine Glenn Foster, J.D., is president and CEO of Americans United for Life. This article originally appeared at Newsweek.