"Abortion Murder" for Failure to Do a Non-Existent Medical Procedure?

Have Ohio Lawmakers Lost Their Minds?

"Abortion Murder" for Failure to Do a Non-Existent Medical Procedure?

My road to having two healthy, feisty daughters came with a few unexpected turns.

When I was first pregnant with my now-15-year-old daughter, I wasn't exactly sure just how pregnant I was. My cycles tended to be all over the map, to put it politely, and so, when I went for my dating ultrasound and the radiology technician saw a mass around one ovary, the assumption was I must be having an ectopic pregnancy and I was told to head to the local hospital immediately. Fortunately, that was where I met my very coolheaded obstetrician, who explained exactly what my hormone levels should be doing in a regular, healthy pregnancy and said firmly, "They don't make that decision (about whether a pregnancy was ectopic) - I do."

Thank God for that doctor, as without him, I am sure my pregnancy would have been terminated and my daughter would not be with us. She was born six weeks early at a robust 6 pounds 8 ounces; she's currently almost 6'1" and in Grade 10. As my obstetrician said then, she's the loudest, largest ectopic pregnancy he'd seen for the time. He was, of course, joking; ectopic pregnancies never go to term, as they ultimately would result in the likely death of the mother.

An ectopic pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association, is "when the fertilized egg attaches itself in a place other than inside the uterus. Most cases occur in the fallopian tube and are thus sometimes called tubal pregnancies. The fallopian tubes are not designed to hold a growing embryo; thus, the fertilized egg in a tubal pregnancy cannot develop properly and must be treated. An ectopic pregnancy happens in 1 out of 50 pregnancies."

Since the fetus can't survive outside the womb and if the pregnancy goes on too long, the woman could end up with a life-threatening rupture and serious internal bleeding, ectopic pregnancies are generally terminated sooner rather than later. I knew very little about ectopic pregnancies at the time, short of what my obstetrician told me, but I was about to get a fairly healthy education.

My second pregnancy was truly an ectopic pregnancy, and in retrospect, I could sort of tell. I was spotting regularly and I knew something was just not right. I called the same obstetrician, who sent me for regular bloodwork for around six days until he called and said this pregnancy, unlike my previous one, was an actual ectopic pregnancy. I was slated for surgery to remove the ectopic pregnancy and the associated fallopian tube the next day and had to wait until my hormone levels dropped to zero before trying again.

My next unsuccessful pregnancy was a miscarriage, and finally, at the age of 36, I had my second daughter, who was full term and hungry. She hasn't stopped being hungry once in the last 11 years.

At any rate, I have a better understanding than some about how serious ectopic pregnancies can be, and was absolutely floored when I read a story from The Guardian that lawmakers in the Ohio legislature introduced a bill requiring physicians to reimplant an ectopic pregnancy into a woman's uterus. Failure to do so, if this bill passes, will likely result in the attending doctor to go to jail and a potential charge of "abortion murder."

The bottom line is, there is no procedure that doctors can use to rescue an ectopic pregnancy. Dr. Chris Zahn, vice-president of practice activities at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists made it clear that such a procedure is actually impossible under current science.

“It is not possible to move an ectopic pregnancy from a fallopian tube, or anywhere else it might have implanted, to the uterus,” he said, according to The Guardian. “Reimplantation is not physiologically possible. Women with ectopic pregnancies are at risk for catastrophic hemorrhage and death in the setting of an ectopic pregnancy, and treating the ectopic pregnancy can certainly save a mom’s life,” he continued.

In short, ectopic pregnancies are simply not viable. To believe that they are is erroneous at best and catastrophic to the mother who could undergo such a procedure at worst. The lawmakers behind the bill need to start listening to the doctors who have apparently said multiple times that such a procedure is impossible instead of putting impossible requirements on doctors.

Here's hoping that bill doesn't pass.

legislation
Christina St-Jean
Christina St-Jean
Read next: New Mexico—It's like a State, like All the Others!
Christina St-Jean

I'm a high school English and French teacher who trains in the martial arts and works towards continuous self-improvement.

See all posts by Christina St-Jean