Two obstetrician-gynecologists (OBGYNs) debunked some of the popular talking points surrounding abortion and maternal health in interviews with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Corporate media outlets have raised concerns that new abortion restrictions following the overturning of Roe v. Wade will endanger women by preventing doctors from performing life-saving medical interventions. Dr. Christina Francis and Dr. Catherine Stark explained that, as pro-life physicians, they treat ectopic pregnancies and perform other medical interventions that end pregnancies without performing elective abortions.
Dr. Christina Francis, an OBGYN hospitalist, and Dr. Catherine Stark, and OBGYN who retired from private practice after 25 years and currently works in a pregnancy resource center, explained that, as pro-life physicians, they treat ectopic pregnancies and perform other medical interventions which end pregnancies without performing elective abortions, combatting concerns raised by media outlets that new post-Roe abortion restrictions would prevent doctors from providing life-saving interventions to women.
“I take care of women in high and low risk pregnancy situations. I take care of obstetric emergencies, both on the labor and delivery unit and in the emergency room. I take care of ectopic pregnancies. I take care of miscarriages,” Francis told the DCNF.
“The only thing I don’t provide my patients that someone who performs abortions would is elective abortions, meaning procedures that are intended to end the life of a fetal patient,” she said.
Numerous national headlines since the overturning of Roe have stirred fears that doctors will not be permitted to treat ectopic pregnancies, which occur when an embryo implants outside the uterus. Ectopic pregnancies never result in a viable fetus and pose a serious health risk to mothers, including internal bleeding and — in some cases — death, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
In reality, the treatment for ectopic pregnancy is not the same as an abortion, Francis told the DCNF. Ectopic pregnancies are treated with laparoscopic surgery or with the medication methotrexate, according to ACOG.
Laparoscopic surgery is done with a small camera inserted through a small abdominal incision, and is often done when an ectopic pregnancy results in a rupture of the fallopian tube, according to ACOG. Methotrexate is used when rupture has not yet occurred to stop the embryo from growing further, ending the pregnancy without surgical intervention, according to ACOG.
Planned Parenthood used to state that “treating an ectopic pregnancy isn’t the same thing as getting an abortion” and that “the medical procedures for abortion are not the same as the medical procedures for an ectopic pregnancy,” but that language was removed from its website after the Supreme Court overturned Roe.
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Treating Potentially Life-Threatening Infections
Pro-abortion advocates claim abortion is a vital form of healthcare and that new restrictions are endangering women’s lives.
Doctors in Texas reportedly delayed medical interventions for 28 women who had their water break early or had other serious complications, with the patients waiting an average of nine days for treatment, according to The New York Times. More than half of those women developed serious infections, bleeding or other issues.
Francis denied that Texas’s abortion law would have prevented or delayed treatment for the women described in these incidents. She said that, while training at a Catholic hospital with an institutional ban on abortions, she was able to perform pre-viability deliveries for women who showed signs of infection based on her medical judgement and without delays from management.
“If these physicians are holding off until their patients are overwhelmingly septic or are in the ICU, they’re committing medical malpractice,” Francis said. “It is very possible to see signs of a developing infection in a woman before she has full blown sepsis, before she’s in an ICU, and it’s at that point you have to intervene.”
“I have read the Texas law and I did not see any uncertainty as to what would be allowed and what wouldn’t,” she said.
Equating Elective Abortion With Life-Saving Care
Some abortion advocates equate elective abortions with necessary medical procedures that incidentally end a fetal life, obscuring the fact that bans on elective abortions don’t apply to procedures to protect the life of the mother such as pre-viability deliveries which ultimately result in fetal death.
“If Indiana Republicans have their way and outlaw abortions, women will die,” Democratic Indiana State Rep Phil GiaQuinta said during a Monday roundtable with Vice President Kamala Harris.
Stark explained that, while it’s sometimes necessary to separate mother and child before the child can survive outside the womb, that procedure is not an elective abortion since the intent is not the end a fetal life.
“The situations where it does come up is if the water breaks early and the mother develops an infection in the uterus, and she has become septic or could become septic, and the only cure for this is to deliver the baby [prematurely]. But I have not encountered any situation where killing the baby before it’s born was necessary,” Stark said.
When this happens, Stark said she delivers the baby, comforts them and allows them to die in the mother’s arms. In contrast, during elective abortions babies are generally dismembered and die before exiting the womb.
“Elective abortions are never medically necessary,” Francis told the DCNF, explaining that pre-viability deliveries are not the same as elective abortions since the intent is not to prevent a live birth.
“Even ACOG, on their website, defines an induced abortion as a procedure that is intended to end a pregnancy without producing a live birth,” she said.
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