Following the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, there has been a lot of confusion surrounding abortion laws and what they mean for women in difficult circumstances. Though rare, there are some instances in which women who have medically life-threatening conditions due to or aggravated by pregnancy must seek immediate life-saving treatment.
If a woman finds herself in this situation, where life-saving medical intervention is required to protect her life, this immediate medical attention will not be denied to her. This includes cases in which termination of pregnancy is required to save her life, even in states with abortion restrictions.
When a woman’s health is in danger, all intervention efforts to save her life will be available and unrestricted, including but not limited to abortion. As such, a woman would only die or face life-threatening medical challenges if she were unable to gain timely access to medical attention.
Is Treatment for Ectopic Pregnancy the Same as Abortion?
There are key differences in treatments for ectopic pregnancies (a life-threatening pregnancy existing outside the uterus) and abortion.
First, because of the location of ectopic pregnancies—typically in the fallopian tubes or somewhere in the abdomen outside of the uterus—these pregnancies are not viable and can cause harm and even fatal effects to the woman if left untreated.
Abortion, on the other hand, is the elective termination of a viable pregnancy located within the uterus.
Dr. Patricia Santiago Munoz, M.D., explains another key difference clearly in a post from UT Southwestern Medical Center: “Ectopic pregnancy treatment is not the same as abortion… treatment cannot be generalized as ‘abortion,’ particularly because many women with ectopic pregnancies planned to conceive and wanted to carry their pregnancies to term.”
No state law has restrictions on ectopic pregnancy care. The medical interventions required for this treatment are distinctly different from elective abortion.
Is Miscarriage Care the Same as Abortion?
Similar to the difference between ectopic pregnancy care and abortion, the intention behind the procedure is markedly different between treatment for a miscarriage and abortion.
The intention behind an abortion is to end an otherwise viable pregnancy early, whereas miscarriage treatment involves medically necessary interventions to safeguard a woman’s health when the end of the pregnancy has already spontaneously occurred.
This difference in treatment is explained clearly by the University of Missouri’s School of Medicine: “Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy…in which the embryo or fetus is prematurely removed or caused to be expelled. Induced abortions are commonly voluntary (elective)…in contrast to spontaneous abortion, or miscarriage, in which the embryo or fetus is involuntarily expelled because of accidental trauma or disease.”
Because of these key differences in intention and treatment, while some similarities in the procedure may exist, abortion and miscarriage care are handled differently in medical scenarios.
Will Emergency Care Be Provided, Post-Roe?
Despite some confusion following the Supreme Court’s recent decision, it is very important to note that life-saving care will not be denied to women needing immediate medical intervention to protect their life and health.
The Secretary of Health and Human Services recently cleared this up in a statement to healthcare providers, reiterating that no matter where a woman resides and no matter what abortion laws exist in that state, life-saving measures will not be restricted, and urgent medical care must be provided in life-threatening scenarios.
Want to Discuss Your Pregnancy Options?
We get it—there’s a lot of information to sort through when considering your options in the face of an unplanned pregnancy. At Pathways Clinic, we’d be honored to be a resource to you as you navigate your decision.
Get all the information you need about your options given your unique health concerns with caring, confidential, free-of-charge care. Ask any questions you need—we’re here to help. Schedule your free appointment today.