The “Heartbeat” Ban Will Hurt Women
Georgia recently passed the “Heartbeat Bill.” The law essentially bans abortion, as women often don’t know they’re pregnant before the 6 week cutoff.
Not only that, but there is a provision that allows law enforcement to investigate miscarriages, and potentially charge women with murder if they have one.
Let’s back up one second here. It’s estimated that up to 50% of all pregnancies will end in miscarriage, often due to genetic problems. Most miscarriages happen very early, before women even knew they were pregnant. There’s no way for a women to control or prevent this.
Criminalizing miscarriage could result in women not seeking prenatal care until the biggest miscarriage window has passed. You might see women present at doctor’s offices only when they begin showing, potentially missing important scans, vaccines, vitamins, and tests — such as for infections or gestational diabetes.
This is troubling, because infections can cause miscarriage. Standard prenatal care involves screening for certain infections and treating them with antibiotics.
Women might not even show up until their complications become life-threatening, and by then it could be too late to save them or the fetus. You can quickly see how a bill that claims to “protect” life fails.
It’s clear that many legislators do not understand basic health care. A possible medical complication for women is an ectopic pregnancy, in which a fertilized egg implants in the wrong place, such as in a Fallopian tube.
In these instances, a state representative in Ohio wanted the fertilized egg to be transplanted into the uterus, so the pregnancy can continue. Except, that’s currently not medically possible. There’s no way an ectopic pregnancy can safely continue.
Trying to legislate nonexistent procedures, or making women afraid to seek care, aren’t the only problems. Providers might outright refuse medical care.
A miscarriage can not only be emotionally devastating, but it can require emergency medical treatment. A procedure called a D&C is used for some miscarriages when tissue remains in the uterus; delayed treatment can lead to infection and sepsis. When a hospital won’t allow the procedure, often due to religious beliefs, women can die.
Want to see more pregnancies continue, with healthy mothers and babies?
- Support birth control and women’s ability to choose sterilization. Women should be able to time their pregnancies, or decide not to have any.
- Support paid parental leave. The United States is the only developed country that doesn’t offer this.
- Demand better prenatal and antenatal care for moms. Over 700 women in the U.S. die due to childbirth every year. One troubling statistic: there is a 50% higher risk of mortality if a woman delivers during the weekend, due to staffing changes.
- Provide subsidies to make day care affordable.
- Support research like the March of Dimes.
Criminalizing miscarriage will criminalize basic physiology. Women who lose a pregnancy don’t need a police investigation. They need support, as well as research into their medical needs. Anything else isn’t just pointless — it’s also heartless.