After abortion bans, doctors "turning away" patients suffering miscarriages

Originally published at: After abortion bans, doctors "turning away" patients suffering miscarriages | Boing Boing


This is not “unexpected”. This is, if not an intended consequence, one that could have and should have been predicted. I suspect we’ll also see teaching hospitals deciding it’s too risky to train students how to deal with ectopic pregnancies, if they haven’t already.


So this person saw it happen once and it’s being generalized into “doctors turning away miscarriages.”

Yes, the consequences of overturning Roe will be shattering. It’s awful on so many levels. But let’s be careful to separate out what are actually very real problems from the author’s anecdotal experience with one patient who may or may not have been hers.


Yeah, I must travel in different circles, because this was expected and has already happened in Texas several times. But I’m the sort of dirty commie liberal who reads the Daily Kos and Digby’s Hullaballoo.

The forced birthers are not “pro life”, they are gleeful killers in the name of their dogma.


Ah, everything is working out to plan for the GQP/KKKpublicans. Nice work, assholes.


Well there’s an easy solution to that, which is to simply be more vigilant about which consequences you choose to notice.


Not sure if you read the article. This doctor, an OB-GYN, had multiple women need to drive several hours to get because their own ERs refused to perform the simple, standard procedure to remove the remains of a partially-miscarried fetus, and had several other similar stories. I’d say that’s a worrying sign, not just some hearsay story.


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I did not expect to be so angry so early in the morning… yeah. It’s early here… why do you ask… :grimacing:


I read it. She had one person who seemed to be having a miscarriage.

I came to this realization when I saw a patient in active miscarriage (bleeding, passing clots, cramping) who had just had an office visit with her primary physician. She was forced to wait more than 48 hours in order to get the results of her bloodwork.

Later in the article there are two more examples:

One was “that she had taken mifepristone and misoprostol for a medication abortion 10 days earlier.” She wasn’t seen by two people (OB and ER docs) for what are likely shady reasons. But this wasn’t a miscarriage. It was for other very shitty reasons.

The other was “Another patient went to the doctor’s office because she knew something was wrong following a medication abortion.” She was turned down for a DNC because it “it was not an emergency.” That’s a totally different shitty thing.

The article is implying that Alabama doctors are refusing to treat people who have miscarriages because of the fears regarding criminalizing abortion access. That’s not what happened in two of the three cases described. Medical care in Alabama is crappy for a whole lot of other reasons, and I question this person’s denial of race as a factor. She’s “not from hereabouts.” Race is everything all the time. Even when it’s not, it is. She’s practicing in a college town, where a good number of her patients are likely University of Alabama women who have been lied to about abortion care and safety all their lives, which is an unreality all to itself.

Even so, to say that doctors are turning away miscarriages is to scaremonger, and all it takes to counter it is for some anti-choice asshole to dig up the stats to say “look, no it isn’t,” and it weakens the actual arguments.

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In 2016 when many of us were warning about the possibility of Roe v Wade being overturned, we were accused of scaremongering. These may be isolated incidents right now, but this isn’t scaremongering. This is going to start happening more and more often in states which outlaw abortion with poorly written laws that don’t carve out specific exception for medical care related to miscarriages. And even where such exceptions are carved out, there will be authorities questioning whether or not it was really a miscarriage or an attempted abortion. Hell, that’s already happening. Warning about a very realistic near future is NOT fear mongering.


OK, point taken. Claiming something is happening without providing any more than a single example gives our opponents an advantage by making it easy to show that what “our side” is saying isn’t true.

It doesn’t matter. The other side is going to lie anyway. Even if we provide examples of it happening 1,000 times and rigorous scientific studies documenting it, they will lie and claim it isn’t happening. We need to stick to the truth, but we don’t need to worry about being so rigorous with our arguments because this isn’t a classroom judged debate tournament.


As @SpunkyTWS and others have stated this wasn’t “unexpected” in the least. Here’s a paper from 2014 which predicted exactly this, I’m sure there were others shouting the warning decades ago.

From the abstract:

Yet policymakers and the public have failed to understand the interconnectedness of abortion with other aspects of women’s medical care. In fact, existing abortion restrictions harm women’s health even for women not actively seeking abortion care, but these impacts remain obscured. For example, antiabortion laws and policies have spillover effects on miscarriage management, prenatal care, and the treatment of ectopic pregnancies


Similar things have been reported in Texas - pharmacists immediately started refusing to dispense medicine that women need to survive miscarriages, doctors immediately started expressing fear and doubt about providing treatment.

I saw someone absurdly arguing that “no one” was arguing for banning abortion even when the mother’s life was in danger and it really angered me because: a) yes, they fucking are, b) even if they weren’t, laws are being written by dumb Republican men who know literally nothing of reproductive science and medicine, and the laws they write are often black-and-white declarations that simply don’t take reality into account, c) even when laws explicitly allow it (e.g. Texas), “abortions” and “life-saving treatment for miscarriages” are identical in terms of procedures and medicines used, so doctors and pharmacists, even in good faith efforts to follow the law, risk falling afoul of it by providing them. So they don’t.

I keep thinking about how Ireland legalized abortion after the death of Savita Halappanavar due to an untreated miscarriage. People are going to die in this country as a result of these laws, if they haven’t already, but I rather suspect that won’t have much of an impact on anything. The people passing these laws, who already don’t represent the majority view in this country, won’t give a shit.

These days?

Except that even if it is “isolated incidents,” the statement is still true. The claim is not that all doctors are turning away all patients. If “only” some doctors are turning away some patients as a result of the new legal landscape, that’s enough for some patients to die or suffer unnecessary serious medical conditions. And that’s what this is about.

Yeah, predictions based on logical outcomes aside, all you had to do was look at any country that banned abortions to see it happening. The only people who didn’t “expect” this simply didn’t care about that outcome enough to even give it a moment’s thought.


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It’s all a four alarm fire right now. They are coming for all of us who aren’t right wing white cisgendered, straight evangalical Christians, and if we don’t all stand together and have each other’s backs, we’re fucked.

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And I’m sure we could just look at the history of Romania during the Ceausescu…


And unfortunately hospitals have a financial and legal incentive to pretend everything is just fine and none of this is happening. The doctors in the Slate article who turned away patients they knew needed treatment won’t admit they did it because they could face charges, and if they had treated the patients they could also face charges. Even if hospitals did start reporting the real statistics of the harm done to women by anti-abortion laws they’d face threats and actual attacks.

We may have to rely on mostly anecdotal data, although the one thing we can be certain of is that the movement that calls itself “pro-life” is intent on letting far too many women die.


Women have already been accused of murder following attempts to get treatment for miscarriages. I see no reason not to think that doctors, seeing the laws go into effect, would not begin to worry about legal consequences to themselves. It may have happened only once or twice in this article, but I’m sure it’s happened a lot more.


Unexpected only feels like the word because it’s hard to imagine anyone should be monstrous they would deliberately try to hurt women already suffering from a miscarriage. But really the Republicans have been there and worse for a while now. It seems ridiculous to say they’re at war with ideas like compassion but they really are.


Those pills induce an abortion by creating a miscarriage. They’re essentially medically indistinguishable, as the article talks about.

The doctors should have still seen her. They see people who shoot themselves, who get in knife fights, and who OD on heroine. Doctors should not be in the business of withholding critical care because they disapprove of what the patient did, or because it’s illegal. That’s exactly the point.


So… They’ll treat unvaccinated Covid patients, but turn away women when they need medical treatment the most.