May 5, 2010

HB2780 and ectopic pregnancy

Let's talk for a moment about ectopic pregnancy.

An ectopic pregnancy is one in which a fertilized zygote implants someplace other than the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes.  It is a complication in about two percent of all reported pregnancies.  There have been, it is true, some extremely rare cases wherein both the mother and the fetus survived: one website lists five such cases.  Five survivals, from a condition affecting 2% of all reported pregnancies--this gives us odds of millions and millions to one against embryo survival, and that is ONLY in the case of non-fallopian implantation.  In the case of fallopian implantation (as is the case in 98% of all ectopic pregnancies), there are only three possible outcomes: abortion, miscarriage, and death of the mother.

There are many factors statistically correlated to ectopic pregnancies (some more strongly than others), though in as many as half of all cases, none of these factors are present.  Thus, the causes are not well understood, and it is certainly not predictable.  It strikes seemingly at random.

It is a tragedy for a mother, and for a family, to have such expectations of a child only to have them shattered.  One can only imagine the trauma involved in such an occurrence, and the intense flood of emotions experienced by a woman who has to have an abortion to save her own life.  One cannot help but feel the deepest sympathy for them, and the desire to do anything possible to ease their burden.

Unless, of course, one is a Republican lawmaker from Oklahoma, specifically one of the ones that voted to override the governor's veto of HB2780.  One of the nastier among its many and far-reaching consequences is that women with ectopic pregnancies--and other mishaps of pregnancy where fetal viability is nil and/or abortion necessary to save the life of the mother--will be subjected to an ultrasound and be forced to listen to "an explanation of the ultrasound depiction, including a medical description of the embryo/fetus."  The images are to be made available to the woman, and she must certify in writing that these steps have been taken.  Adding insult to injury, the state makes no provision whatsoever to cover the cost of this procedure, leaving one to assume that it will have to be paid for by the woman herself.

These individuals would take a grieving mother and force her to pay to hear a medical description of the fetus that must be destroyed so that she might live.

They would do this in the name of morality.

Note that I have not commented on the personhood of the fetus, or the beginning of life, or the morality of abortion-on-demand.  I have merely stated the simple facts: a small but real percentage of pregnancies are ectopic.  There is no hope for a fetus implanted in the fallopian tubes--it cannot survive, and the mother will die, too, absent abortion or miscarriage.  The pro-life movement--which has dedicated so much of its literature to the mother's trauma from abortion--now passes a law which forces women reeling from the news of an ectopic pregnancy to pay for the privilege of having that trauma, anguish, and guilt greatly increased.

Charitably considered, the law was merely an attempt at forcing women who abort to pay for a guilt trip before doing so; an attempt that, in its petty incompetence, also victimized those women who must abort for purely medical reasons.  Realistically considered, it was simply par for the course. Republicans raised the cost of abortions, tried to punish women who abort and slashed the budget of programs designed to aid those with unwanted pregnancies without caring in the slightest about the real-world consequences of those actions, so long as the votes and money keep coming in.

1 comment:

  1. My God. I hadn't realized there were that many ectopic pregnancies. Those legislators in Oklahoma are moral imbeciles.