On June 13, the House Oversight and Reform Committee held a hearing entitled “The Impact of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs Decision on Abortion Rights and Access in the United States.” Towards the end of this hearing, there was a rather infuriating exchange between US Congresswoman from Massachusetts Ayanna Pressley and Erin Morrow Hawley, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom.
In the exchange, Hawley repeatedly tries to talk about Pressley, while playing puns on the definition of “abortion,” — she tries to argue that the termination of an ectopic pregnancy is not an abortion. At one point, Pressley tells Hawley, “There seems to be a gap in your understanding of reproductive health” and quotes ACOG (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), which states that the “treatment of ectopic pregnancy necessitates terminating a non-viable pregnancy.” Hawley counters again, arguing, “It’s not an abortion because it’s not intended to end a woman’s life. ‘a kid.”
So what is an abortion? According ACOG, “Abortion is a medical intervention provided to people who need to terminate the medical condition of pregnancy.” What Hawley is trying to do here is create a false narrative that serves the anti-choice crowd — she’s trying to argue that the treatment of ectopic pregnancies won’t be changed by the repeal of Roe v. Wade. In fact, however, that is exactly what happened. Grace Alexander on Twitter Explain,
Ms. Hawley is trying to say that hospitals do NOT delay treatment for ectopic pregnancy because that treatment is “not an abortion”. Strange, because hospitals certainly seem to think they are delaying care for ectopic pregnancies for this reason.
And Alexander is right. There have already been many cases where doctors “fearing a legal backlash, they deny life-saving abortions.”
Bloomberg Law States this:
Hospitals and doctors are struggling to distinguish between providing life-saving measures to women and wading through a legal gray area that has emerged in the absence of abortion rights.
And the New York Times reports that “Some women and health care providers are concerned about how this rare but life-threatening pregnancy complication will be handled now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned.” They explain further:
Thirteen states have trigger laws which immediately prohibit abortion and which came into effect after the Supreme Court’s decision, or will soon be. These laws allow exemptions if an abortion is necessary to prevent a pregnant woman from dying.
But women’s health care providers say the recent ruling has raised questions on their ability to treat ectopic pregnancy, a life-threatening complication. The The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has warned that abortion bans – even those with an exception for ectopic pregnancies – can create confusion and hinder a patient’s prompt access to care.
“were already see on Twitter and elsewhere doctors are afraid to treat ectopic pregnancies,” said Dr. Aileen Gariepy, director of complex family planning at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. “As physicians, our job is to keep science and evidence-based medicine up-to-date and to do what is right for the patient. It’s not the nuances of how state legislatures have written anything.”
You can watch the entire hearing of July 13, 2022 here; the exchange between Pressley and Hawley begins at 4:47:24.