OB/GYNs: Overturning Roe Has No Impact on Treating Miscarriages, Ectopic Pregnancies

Maya Iribarren participates in an abortion-rights protest at City Hall in San Francisco fo
AP Photo/Josie Lepe

Despite fear-mongering from the radical left following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, OB/GYNs tell Breitbart News physicians will still be able to treat women for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies.

A flood of viral posts and online misinformation accompanied the court’s historic ruling, falsely warning women that states with abortion bans will also ban miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy treatments. Some posts even equated elective abortion procedures to the ones performed during the removal of miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies.


“This is sort of the prevailing narrative right now, and it’s not good for women…because it’s scaring them, and it’s going to make them delay receiving necessary care if they’re afraid that [these treatments are] now outlawed in their state,” American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) CEO-elect and board-certified OB/GYN Dr. Christina Francis told Breitbart News on Wednesday during a press conference call sharing new abortion-related polling.

So, What’s the Difference? 

Ectopic pregnancies, when left untreated, “may cause life-threatening bleeding,” according to the Mayo Clinic. These kinds of pregnancies, which are estimated to account for one in 50 pregnancies, usually occur in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus, meaning the fertilized egg cannot survive. Mayo Clinic defines a miscarriage as “the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week.” Miscarriages also sometimes require potentially life-saving medical care, as some woman can develop an infection or bleed excessively.

Francis, who has worked as an OB/GYN for 14 years, laid out the difference between procedures for elective abortion, ectopic pregnancies, and miscarriages, and said they are “not related to abortion in any way.”

So elective abortion…the intent of an induced abortion is to end the life of…a viable fetal human being,” she said. “That is not our intent when we treat an ectopic pregnancy. In fact, an ectopic pregnancy is treated with a completely different procedure than is used for any induced abortion.”

Francis said the most common way an ectopic pregnancy is treated is through surgery, “typically a laparoscopic surgery where either the [fallopian] tube is removed or in some cases — the tube can be opened and the pregnancy removed —  or treated with a medication called methotrexate, which is not commonly used for abortion.”

As for miscarriage management, Francis said the procedure is similar to what might be done in an elective abortion, though the “intent” of the procedure is not the same and would not be restricted by an abortion ban. Francis went on to say:

While the procedure might be the same — we might do a D&C [Dilatation and Curettage] for a first trimester miscarriage to empty a non-viable fetus out of a woman’s uterus — again, the intent of that procedure is what is at stake here and what is being discussed in states that might decide to restrict abortion in some way. So a D&C procedure would not be outlawed, but a D&C with the intent of ending a fetal human being’s life, that might be outlawed in the state. We use intent in medicine all the time, and that’s the key distinction here.

AAPLOG CEO Dr. Donna Harrison, who is also a board-certified OB/GYN, added to what Francis said, noting that her colleague’s use of the term “viable” is referring to “a fetus with a heartbeat.”:

It’s a very easy distinction for an OB/GYN to tell the difference between an abortion and a miscarriage. If the baby is dead, then that’s a miscarriage. If the baby is alive, and there’s no medical reason to separate it, except that the woman wants the baby dead, then that’s an elective induced abortion.

Medical Coding Confusion 

Francis said some people are confused “because the medical terminology for a miscarriage is a spontaneous abortion.” But she explained that “spontaneous abortion” and “elective abortion” are not the same, and treatments for the former are not banned by abortion laws. 

MedlinePlus, an online information service produced by the United States National Library of Medicine, also clarifies that “miscarriages, which are sometimes called ‘spontaneous abortions’ in the medical community, are not the same as “elective abortions.” 

Concerning ectopic pregnancies, even pro-abortion Planned Parenthood’s own website differentiates between treatments for ectopic pregnancies and elective abortions. 

“Treating an ectopic pregnancy isn’t the same thing as getting an abortion,”  the organization states.

What Do State Laws Say? 

Francis is encouraging women to look for themselves at the text of their state’s abortion laws, rather than solely rely on second-hand explanations from organizations and media.

“From the ones that I’ve looked at, they clearly do not apply to ectopic pregnancy, or miscarriage treatment, or situations in which the life of the mother is threatened. This was even the case before Roe,” she said, adding:

All you have to do is take a look at Catholic hospitals all around this country. Even under Roe v. Wade, they were not performing abortions, and yet they were able to take care of women with ectopic pregnancies, with miscarriages, all of that. We want women to be reassured that you will still be able to receive the life-saving treatment that you need.

Harrison, who said she is “familiar with the vast majority of laws regarding abortion in the country,” added that “not one single one of them criminalizes a doctor for taking care of a patient in a life-threatening situation.” Breitbart News previously reported that even if state laws do not explicitly name exceptions for ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages, the laws always give exceptions “for the life of the mother.” Both ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages can be life-threatening, meaning treatments for those would fall under that category. 

“Not one of them criminalizes the treatment of ectopic pregnancy, and not one of them criminalizes miscarriage treatments. So this whole fear mongering that is being done, it is completely not based in reality,” Harrison said.

“People who are intentionally fear-mongering and spreading this false narrative — that women are not gonna be able to receive life saving care — not only are they blatant lies, but they’re also making women feel very fearful that they will not be able to continue to receive the excellent healthcare that they always have,” Francis added.


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