Home Education Opponents of abortion downplay the complex realities after Roe v. Wade

Opponents of abortion downplay the complex realities after Roe v. Wade

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WASHINGTON (AP) — When a 10-year-old Ohio girl traveled to Indiana last month to end a pregnancy she was allegedly forced to …

WASHINGTON (AP) — When a 10-year-old Ohio girl traveled to Indiana last month to end a pregnancy allegedly forced on her by her rapist, several conservative politicians and television pundits called the report a hoax.

After the gruesome details confirmed the case was real, some tried a new tack: arguing without evidence that the baby could still be legally aborted in Ohio under Ohio’s near-total abortion ban, which exempts only mothers whose life or essential body functions are impaired. is at risk after fetal heart activity is detected.

Kathryn Glenn Foster, president of Americans Against Abortion United for Life, added another defense for young rape victims: She told the House Judiciary Committee that the 10-year-old’s pregnancy “will likely affect her life , and therefore it would fall under any exception and would not be an abortion.’

In televised statements and interviews, anti-abortion advocates have used misguided rhetoric about abortion access to downplay the effects and complications of restrictive abortion laws as doctors, struggling to interpret laws that are largely untested in the courts, turn away pregnant patients for treatment.

The effort had the immediate effect of creating a narrative of the post-Roe v. Wade world that overlooks how abortion laws passed in recent weeks have complicated the way doctors deal with victims of rape, miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy.

More than a half-dozen doctors polled by The Associated Press said they feel compromised and uncertain about the abortion environment, which has been significantly changed by a U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned nearly 50 years of precedent that abortion was a protected constitutional right.

“Healthcare providers are in a terrible position: they’re not sure what’s legal and what’s not, and they’re questioning the care they know they should be giving,” said Dr. Jennifer Kearns, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology. and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, who initially questioned the 10-year-old girl’s rape report, said in an interview with Fox News that she did not have to leave Ohio for abortion care, citing state exemptions. Last week, Ohio Right to Life President Mike Ganidakis repeated the statement during a public forum: “She could have had an abortion here.” The bill’s Republican sponsor said as much in a newspaper column published Thursday.

But it is not as clear-cut as they suggested.

The state’s nonpartisan Legislative Service Commission confirmed in its analysis that the mother’s age alone would prevent a girl from legally accessing the procedure in the state. Doctors in Ohio must document a medical condition and justification when they perform an abortion to save a life.

Yost’s office did not return a request for additional comment. Ganidakis outlined to the AP “various scenarios” in which the girl could have access to an abortion in Ohio, such as if a doctor agreed her life was in danger because of her age, noting that he did not review her medical records.

On social media, some conservatives also downplayed concerns about access to ectopic pregnancy treatment, calling it “still legal in every state.” An ectopic pregnancy is defined as a pregnancy in which the fertilized egg grows outside the uterus, where it has no chance of survival.

Earlier this month, abortion opponent Erin Morrow Hawley told the House House Reforms and Oversight Committee that ectopic pregnancy has become the subject of “misinformation.”

“There have been reports on social media suggesting that women will not be treated for ectopic pregnancies because doctors may be afraid to perform the procedure, but that is absolutely false,” said Hawley, an attorney with the faith-based nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom. “The treatment of an ectopic pregnancy is not essentially an abortion.”

However, state abortion laws have caused confusion.

Doctors generally agree that the procedure to end an ectopic pregnancy, which usually involves medication or surgery to remove the pregnancy, is not the same as an abortion.

But women have reportedly been denied help in states with strict restrictions on access to abortion, such as Ohio, which prohibits abortion after detecting a fetal heartbeat. A fetal heartbeat may still be present in an ectopic pregnancy. In one case, a central Texas hospital ordered a doctor not to treat an ectopic pregnancy until it had terminated, according to a letter from the Texas Medical Association.

In an email to the AP, Hawley said doctors who turned away patients with ectopic pregnancies because of the abortion ban were misinterpreting the law.

However, even before Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court in June, some faith-based hospitals had policies against treating women for ectopic pregnancies.

And many states failed to specify in their newly enacted abortion bans that ectopic pregnancy could be considered an exception. That has left doctors in some states scrambling to end pregnancies, said Dr. Kate White, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University School of Medicine. Lawmakers in West Virginia, for example, are considering an abortion ban that would carve out an exception for ectopic pregnancies.

“Clinicians may be afraid to treat it if their state’s abortion law does not clearly address ectopic pregnancy. You can see their anxiety, “Hey, the pregnancy is growing, you can’t ever terminate it,” White said. “They fear the law is too broad.”

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Keleti reported from Phoenix. Associated Press writer Julie Carr Smith in Columbus, Ohio contributed.

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Follow AP’s abortion coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/abortion.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or distributed.

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