You Got Your Abortion Bill In My Trans Ban!

There was a hell of a lot of news just yesterday about the ongoing effort to make sure women, children, and some men too don’t get any silly ideas about having bodily autonomy, so let’s dig right in, with the reminder that the GOP’s drive to ban abortion everywhere is hugely unpopular with everyone except the hardcore anti-abortion folks who now dominate the Gruesome Orc Party.

North Carolina: GOP Lege Overrides Veto, Passes 12-Week Ban


The Republican supermajority in both houses of the North Carolina Legislature voted Tuesday to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s recent veto, passing a ban on abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy. The veto override wouldn’t have been possible in the state House without the party switch by state Rep. Tricia Cotham, who suddenly announced in April that she had decided to become a Republican. That move cemented a two-thirds GOP majority in the House, and now we’re sure Cotham is very happy with her 30 pieces of flair from GOP donors. Back in ancient times — i.e., January of this year — Cotham cosponsored a bill that would have codified abortion rights into state law, but honestly, who remembers January any more? We have a feeling that voters may remember Cotham’s switcheroo in 2024.

Yesterday’s vote means that there are now no states south of Virginia and east of New Mexico where abortion remains legal and relatively easy to obtain. Even inside the 12-week limit, abortions in North Carolina will require a 72-hour waiting period between an initial visit and the actual provision of abortion services, even for medical abortions using mifepristone, if it remains legal. Doctors must be present when patients take the pill as well. [Politico]

National: Appeals Court Hears Abortion Pill Ban Today

The federal appeals court in New Orleans is hearing oral arguments today in the unspeakably shoddy lawsuit to reverse the FDA’s 2000 approval of the abortion drug mifepristone. The lawsuit, custom made for Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump-appointed federal judge in Texas, should have been laughed out of court from the start because the plaintiffs have no plausible standing in the case, and because the alleged “scientific” evidence that the FDA wrongly approved the drug is crap, but then, that’s the Trump judiciary we have. The case is being heard in the notoriously rightwing Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals by a three-judge panel consisting of two Trump appointees and a GW Bush appointee, all of whom have histories of supporting abortion restrictions. One of the judges, Trump appointee James Ho, called abortion a “moral tragedy” in a 2018 opinion, and you just ignore the research showing that 99 percent of women who’ve had abortions continue to believe it was the right choice even several years later. They’ve all been brainwashed to rationalize their decision, you see.

In addition to the bullshit Texas case, the appeals court will also hear the case from Washington state that ruled the FDA can’t reverse its approval of mifepristone. That case has been combined with the one from Texas. In April, the Supreme Court issued a stay on enforcement of Kacsmaryk’s ruling, meaning that mifepristone will remain available at least until the Fifth Circuit rules in the case at some point following today’s arguments. Whatever the outcome, get ready for the entire shitshow of legal uncertainty to start all over again until the case eventually gets to the Supreme Court. [NBC News / AP]

Montana: Greg Gianforte Signs Abortion Restrictions Days After State Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Rights

In Montana Tuesday, Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte body-slammed reproductive freedom by signing four anti-abortion bills, which included a 12-week ban on all dilation and evacuation abortions after 15 weeks. Other restrictions signed by Gianforte will add new regulations on clinics and restrict Medicaid coverage for abortions.

As the Montana Free Press reports, Gianforte’s approval of the abortion restrictions came just days after the Montana Supreme Court

upheld a nearly 25-year-old legal precedent allowing abortion access under the state Constitution’s right to privacy. That case, Weems v. State, found that advanced practice nurse practitioners with proper training can provide abortions in Montana and reaffirmed that women have a fundamental right “to seek abortion care from a qualified health care provider of her choosing, absent a clear demonstration of a medically acknowledged, bona fide health risk.”

But then, what does the state supreme court know about state law anyway? Gianforte issued a statement saying he was “proud to round out our legislative session with another suite of pro-life, pro-family bills that protect the lives of unborn babies in Montana,” and if your family includes anyone who thinks they need an abortion, then clearly it’s not a real family.

The legislation is likely to face a legal challenge, what with the earlier state supreme court ruling. Also, as the Montana Free Press notes, the legislation

bars “dismemberment abortion,” a nonmedical term that the legislation defines in part as “the use or prescription of any instrument, medicine, drug, or other substance or device” to intentionally terminate pregnancies and the “insertion of grasping instruments” to remove a fetus.

The law includes exceptions for the treatment of ectopic pregnancies, and for “medical emergencies,” which of course can be a dicey determination that leads to delays of any treatment until a patient is close to death. Planned Parenthood of Montana immediately filed a motion in state court Tuesday to prevent the new law from being enforced. [Montana Free Press]

Nebraska: GOP Breaks Filibuster Of Anti-Trans Bill By Adding Abortion Ban, Because Why Not Oppress Everyone?

Finally, the GOP’s two most repulsive movements to restrict human freedom merged in Nebraska yesterday, as Republicans in the state’s unicameral Legislature sought to use a ban on abortion to break the three-month filibuster against the Republicans’ attempts to ban gender-affirming care for transgender minors. Democratic state Sens. Machaela Cavanaugh and Megan Hunt (who has a trans son, aged 12) have been absolute BOSSES in their ongoing efforts to kill the anti-trans bill, refusing to allow any legislation at all to move forward until Republicans dropped it. And it worked for months, until yesterday.

Independent reporter Erin Reed reports that in the latest attempt to move the anti-trans bill, LB 574, Republican state Sen. Ben Hansen amended the bill with a ban on abortions after 12 weeks. (Really 10 weeks, since pregnancy by statute “begins” with the the patient’s last missed period.) In addition, his amendment hands all authority on rules related to healthcare for trans youth to the state’s Chief Medical Officer, who of course was appointed by the Republican Gov. Jim Pillen. Says Reed,

While some may label this as a compromise, it feels like a more radical turn. It underlines the unsettling truth that the battles over gender-affirming care and abortion rights are not separate, but rather two faces of the same coin, driven by the same factions, using the same justifications to limit access to vital care.

The amendment technically drops the part of LB 574 that forbids puberty blockers and hormone therapy, instead only banning gender-affirming surgical procedures for anyone under the age of 19. That seems like a compromise, since the vast majority of trans people don’t seek surgery until after they’re adults anyway.

Oh, but then there’s the catch: By transferring all authority to set rules on gender affirming care to the state’s Chief Medical Officer, the amendment simply shifts the banning of puberty blockers and hormone treatment from the Lege to that appointed bureaucrat, Dr. Timothy Tesmer, who will almost certainly eliminate the treatments — and would also be free to add other restrictions that weren’t in the original version of LB 574. Sneaky, huh?

The amended bill moved forward last night in a procedural vote that broke the filibuster by a single vote.

Sen. Cavanaugh this morning gave a powerful speech evoking the words of Montana state Rep. Zooey Zephyr, condemning the dishonest tactics used by Republicans in forcing an end to the filibuster by combining two Republican obsessions, punishing women for having sex, and punishing trans people for existing:

“You literally have to cheat at every moment of this debate. In every possible way, you are cheating. […]

“Women will die. Children are dying. It is your fault. It is your fault! And you are allowing it to happen. You DO literally have blood on your hands, and if you vote for this you will have buckets and buckets of blood on your hands.”

After a final round of debate today, the combined measure is likely to pass — and then the fight to protect trans young people’s lives will shift to the courts. Sen. Hunt noted minutes ago on Twitter that she’s already getting death threats, but she’s not afraid. The more the bastards attack people’s rights to be themselves and to have autonomy over their own bodies, the more they will lose. She also eloquently pointed out that the Nebraska case makes clear once and for all that these are not separate issues (and for that matter, neither are the attacks on schools and libraries).

“Trans rights are directly tied to the greater fight for reproductive rights and bodily autonomy – we are all in this fight together, no one is siloed away from being impacted by the rollback of our collective rights.

“What’s happening in Nebraska is proof.”

Americans are not going to stand for this, and we all need to come together to protect our rights. Get ready for a long fight, and organize, organize, organize. We’ll close with a prayer from Rev. Molly Ivins, from her final column. She was talking about the Iraq War and George W. Bush, but it applies here, today, just as well; just substitute “women and trans kids” for “troops” and it’s right on target:

We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we’re for them. […] We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, “Stop it, now!”

Amen.

[Erin in the Morning / Omaha World-Herald / Photo: Ted Eytan, Creative Commons License 2.0]

Yr Wonkette is funded by reader donations. If you can, please give $5 or $10 a month so we can help keep all of us in the fight for sanity and justice. We can’t let freedom be lost, especially not to such ridiculous, mean-spirited assholes.

Do your Amazon shopping through this link, because reasons.



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How a medication abortion, also known as an ‘abortion pill,’ works | CNN



CNN
 — 

While legal battles over access to mifepristone, one of two drugs used for medication abortions, play out in court, the drug continues to be available in states which consider abortion legal.

“While many women obtain medication abortion from a clinic or their OB-GYN, others obtain the pills on their own to self-induce or self-manage their abortion,” said Dr. Daniel Grossman, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco.

“A growing body of research indicates that self-managed abortion is safe and effective,” he said.

Mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone, which is needed for a pregnancy to continue. The drug is approved to end a pregnancy through 10 weeks’ gestation, which is “70 days or less since the first day of the last menstrual period,” according to the FDA.

In a medication abortion, a second drug, misoprostol, is taken within the next 24 to 48 hours. Misoprostol causes the uterus to contract, creating cramping and bleeding. Approved for use in other conditions, such as preventing stomach ulcers, the drug has been available at pharmacies for decades.

Together, the two drugs are commonly known as the “abortion pill,” which is now used in more than half of the abortions in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

“Some people do this because they cannot access a clinic — particularly in states with legal restrictions on abortion — or because they have a preference for self-care,” said Grossman, who is also the director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, a research group that evaluates the pros and cons of reproductive health policies and publishes studies on how abortion affects a woman’s health.

What happens during a medication abortion? To find out, CNN spoke with Grossman. The conversation has been edited for clarity.

CNN: What is the difference between a first-trimester medication abortion and a vacuum aspiration in terms of what a woman experiences?

Dr. Daniel Grossman: A vacuum aspiration is most commonly performed under a combination of local anesthetic and oral pain medications or local anesthetic together with intravenous sedation, or what is called conscious sedation.

An injection of local anesthetic is given to the area around the cervix, and the cervix is gently dilated or opened up. Once the cervix is opened, a small straw-like tube is inserted into the uterus, and a gentle vacuum is used to remove the pregnancy tissue. Contrary to what some say, if the procedure is done before nine weeks or so, there’s nothing in the tissue that would be recognizable as a part of an embryo.

The aspiration procedure takes just a couple of minutes; then the person is observed for one to two hours until any sedation has worn off. We also monitor each patient for very rare complications, such as heavy bleeding.

Grossman: A medication abortion is a more prolonged process. After taking the pills, bleeding and cramping can occur over a period of days. Bleeding is typically heaviest when the actual pregnancy is expelled, but that bleeding usually eases within a few hours. On average people continue to have some mild bleeding for about two weeks or so, which is a bit longer than after a vacuum aspiration.

Nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, diarrhea and headache can occur after using the abortion pill, and everyone who has a successful medication abortion usually reports some pain.

In fact, the pain of medication abortion can be quite intense. In the studies that have looked at it, the average maximum level of pain that people report is about a seven to eight out of 10, with 10 being the highest. However, people also say that the pain can be brief, peaking just as the pregnancy is being expelled.

The level of cramping and pain can depend on the length of the pregnancy as well as whether or not someone has given birth before. For example, a medical abortion at six weeks or less gestation typically has less pain and cramping than one performed at nine weeks. People who have given birth generally have less pain.

CNN: What can be done to help with the pain of a medication abortion?

Grossman: There are definitely things that can be used to help with the pain. Research has shown that ibuprofen is better than acetaminophen for treating the pain of medication abortion. We typically advise people to take 600 milligrams every six hours or so as needed.

Some people take tramadol, a narcotic analgesic, or Vicodin, which is a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Recent research I was involved in found medications like tramadol can be helpful if taken prophylactically before the pain starts.

Another successful regimen that we studied combined ibuprofen with a nausea medicine called metoclopramide that also helped with pain. Other than ibuprofen, these medications require a prescription.

Another study found that a TENS device, which stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator, helps with the pain of medication abortion. It works through pads put on the abdomen that stimulate the nerves through mild electrical shocks, thus interfering with the pain signals. That’s something people could get without a prescription.

Pain can be an overlooked issue with medication abortion because, quite honestly, as clinicians, we’re not there with patients when they are in their homes going through this. But as we’ve been doing more research on people’s experiences with medication abortion, it’s become quite clear that pain control is really important. I think we need to do a better job of treating the pain and making these options available to patients.

CNN: Are there health conditions that make the use of a medication abortion unwise?

Grossman: Undergoing a medication abortion can be dangerous if the pregnancy is ectopic, meaning the embryo is developing outside of the uterus. It’s rare, happening in about two out of every 100 pregnancies — and it appears to be even rarer among people seeking medication abortion.

People who have undergone previous pelvic, fallopian tube or abdominal surgery are at higher risk of an ectopic pregnancy, as are those with a history of pelvic inflammatory disease. Certain sexually transmitted infections can raise risk, as does smoking, a history of infertility and use of infertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).

If a person is on anticoagulant or blood thinning drugs or has a bleeding disorder, a medication abortion is not advised. The long-term use of steroids is another contraindication for using the abortion pill.

Anyone using an intrauterine device, or IUD, must have it removed before taking mifepristone because it may be partially expelled during the process, which can be painful.

People with chronic adrenal failure or who have inherited a rare disorder called porphyria are not good candidates.

CNN: Are there any signs of trouble a woman should watch for after undergoing a medication abortion?

Grossman: It can be common to have a low-grade fever in the first few hours after taking misoprostol, the second drug in a medication abortion. If someone has a low-grade fever — 100.4 degrees to 101 degrees Fahrenheit — that lasts more than four hours, or has a high fever of over 101 degrees Fahrenheit after taking the medications, they do need to be evaluated by a health care provider.

Heavy bleeding, which would be soaking two or more thick full-size pads an hour for two consecutive hours, or a foul-smelling vaginal discharge should be evaluated as well.

One of the warning signs of an ectopic pregnancy is severe pelvic pain, particularly on one side of the abdomen. The pain can also radiate to the back. Another sign is getting dizzy or fainting, which could indicate internal bleeding. These are all very rare complications, but it’s wise to be on the lookout.

We usually recommend that someone having a medication abortion have someone with them during the first 24 hours after taking misoprostol or until the pregnancy has passed. Many people specifically choose to have a medication abortion because they can be surrounded by a partner, family or friends.

Most people know that the abortion is complete because they stop feeling pregnant, and symptoms such as nausea and breast tenderness disappear, usually within a week of passing the pregnancy. A home urine pregnancy test may remain positive even four to five weeks after a successful medication abortion, just because it takes that long for the pregnancy hormone to disappear from the bloodstream.

If someone still feels pregnant, isn’t sure if the pregnancy fully passed or has a positive pregnancy test five weeks after taking mifepristone, they need to be evaluated by a clinician.

People should know that they can ovulate as soon as two weeks after a medication abortion. Most birth control options can be started immediately after a medication abortion.

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Amid contradictory laws, hospitals in one state were unable to explain policies on emergency abortion care, study finds | CNN



CNN
 — 

Oklahoma’s laws restricting abortions have created a confusing, contradictory environment that may have a chilling effect on health care, new research says.

After the US Supreme Court overturned the right to an abortion last year with the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, several states quickly passed laws that restricted such procedures. A report released Tuesday and described in the medical journal the Lancet finds that the laws in at least one state left workers at many hospitals confused about how to proceed.

When the court made its decision, the Oklahoma law that criminalized abortion in 1910 went back into effect, according to the state’s attorney general. Lawmakers then created multiple overlapping laws that further criminalized abortion and increased penalties for those who performed or assisted in an abortion procedure, according to the new report from Physicians for Human Rights, Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The Oklahoma laws allow abortion in the case of a medical emergency, but one doesn’t define a medical emergency. Another says it allows for the “preservation of life in a medical emergency,” defined as causing “substantial and irreversible body of bodily impairment” – which is not a medical term, experts say.

To understand exactly how well Oklahoma hospitals understood the laws, the researchers used a “secret shopper method,” study co-author Dr. Michele Heisler said.

Researchers posed as prospective patients and called 34 hospitals to ask about the emergency pregnancy care they offered.

Heisler said that when the researchers designed the study, she expected the hospitals to tell the patients that they could get help in an emergency but that a second provider might have to sign off on an abortion or that a doctor would have to get the decision past an “onerous” hospital oversight committee.

“What we weren’t expecting is that there would be so much confusion and contradictory information and really not clear information,” said Heisler, who is medical director at Physicians for Human Rights and a professor of internal medicine and public health at the University of Michigan.

The researchers said that none of the hospitals they contacted in Oklahoma was totally able to articulate clear, consistent policies for emergency obstetric care to potential patients.

Specifically, 65% – 22 of the 34 hospitals – were unable to provide information about policies, procedures or the support provided to doctors when it is clinically necessary to terminate a pregnancy to save the life of a pregnant patient.

In 14 of the 22 cases, hospital representatives provided unclear and/or incomplete answers about whether doctors require approval to perform a medically necessary abortion.

Three of the hospitals said they do not provide abortions at all, even though it remains legal in the case of a medical emergency or to “preserve the life” of the pregnant person. Four others provided information that was factually wrong, the report says.

Four hospitals said they had formal approval processes that clinicians must go through if they have a situation in which it is medically necessary to terminate a pregnancy; they cannot make that decision on their own.

Three hospitals indicated that they have policies for these situations but refused to share any information about them.

“Unfortunately, it is being just left up to individual health systems and clinicians to try to make sense of these laws and provide guidance and support,” Heisler said.

The Oklahoma Hospital Association said it has been in conversations with Oklahoma’s medical licensure boards to seek clarity about the state’s conflicting abortion laws.

The association sent guidance to its members in September to explain what it interpreted as “saving the life of a pregnant woman” and what the laws would mean for a person made pregnant through rape or incest, among other issues. The guidance explains that the state’s criminal laws do not make an exception for these circumstances unless it is to save the life of someone who is pregnant in a medical emergency.

The guidance also warns that a person convicted of “administering, prescribing, advising, or procuring a woman to take any medicine drug or substance, or a person convicted of using or employing any instruction or ‘other means whatever,’ with the intent to procure an abortion, shall be guilty of a felony punishable by two (2) to (5) years imprisonment. From August 27, 2022, forward, a person convicted of performing or attempting to perform an abortion shall be guilty of a felony punishable by a fine not to exceed One Hundred Thousand ($100,000.00) and/or imprisonment not to exceed ten (10) years.”

The guidance says the “persons potentially liable” are the provider, not the pregnant person.

Study co-author Rabia Muqaddam, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights who is working on multiple cases challenging the abortion bans in Oklahoma, called the overlapping laws a “bizarre” situation.

“Aside from the fact that there are so many of them is that they all conflict,” she said. “All of the laws have inconsistent definitions, which is where a lot of the confusion comes from for health care providers. What’s most dangerous for patients is the fact that the definitions of medical emergency and life-preserving abortions is unclear and inconsistent.”

“If I was the hospital general counsel and I was looking at these laws, I have absolutely no idea what my physician could or could not do in any particular circumstance,” she said.

When there is a lack of clarity and when penalties are involved, “what you get is massive chill.”

“Physicians are terrified. They’re terrified that if they make the wrong decision, they’re going to go to jail. They’re going to lose their license. And at the other end of that is that patients are being seriously harmed,” Muqaddam said.

Sonia M. Suter, a professor of law at George Washington University who was not involved in the new research, said recent abortion laws have created “such a mess.”

“You are telling physicians that they have two conflicting obligations,” said Suter, whose scholarship focuses on issues at the intersection of law, medicine and bioethics, with a particular focus on reproductive rights.

There is an obligation to stabilize patients in emergencies that may not always qualify as “life-threatening,” but doctors and hospitals could also risk being sued because the doctors are not following the standard of care, “which you can’t do with how some of these exceptions are worded.”

She said hospitals also don’t know how the laws will be applied. Lawyers typically will instruct institutions to interpret the law as conservatively as possible, and physicians may be equally conservative because they don’t want to risk their licenses or face stiff penalties.

“It’s just devastating for everybody,” Suter said. “It’s just cruel.”

Molly Meegan, general counsel for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said state laws to restrict abortion with emergency exceptions are not comprehensive.

“They can’t be applied in a medical situation. They just aren’t practical,” she said. “They have an ethical and personal duty to their patients to do what is best for their patients. It can at times be in direct conflict with whatever the laws are, especially if they’re vague, and most of the ob/gyns throughout the country, including in Oklahoma, are in an impossible situation.”

Meegan and Suter both believe the confusion will lead to the deaths of more women. Those who survive may be left with dire health problems, including losing the ability to have children in the future.

“They already have horrific maternal mortality and infant mortality rates,” Suter said. “It feels like the end of evidence-based medicine.”

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oklahoma persistently ranks among the states with the worst rates of maternal deaths, even before the new abortion laws went into effect. The state had a maternal mortality rate of 25.2 deaths per 100,000 live births for 2018-20, well above the national average.

For communities of color, the rate is significantly worse, according to the Oklahoma Health Department.

White women had 23.2 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births for 2018-20, the lowest rate overall in Oklahoma. The rates for Black women and Native American women were about twice as high: 49.4 and 44.4, respectively.

Oklahoma is not alone. The 13 states where most abortions are banned generally have some of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the country, Heisler said. Even more states could be restricting abortion access soon, the experts believe, with potentially more problems to come.

“The hostile climate many states are creating for the health care field by enacting criminal and other penalties for abortion care is an outcome whose reverberations we are only just beginning to see,” said Kelly Baden, vice president for public policy at the reproductive health nonprofit Guttmacher Institute.

Heisler noted that the researchers don’t blame the hospitals or the doctors for this confusion. Overall, she said, the staffers who talked to the researchers “were wonderful,” despite the circumstances.

“They were empathetic. They said, ‘I completely understand.’ They tried to give answers. They acted in good faith. But really, none of the hospitals were really able to say what we were hoping for, which is to unequivocally state that they would stand behind their clinicians and that clinicians at their facilities would be able to use their best clinical judgment for the individual case and that it would be made as medical decisions should be in collaboration with the patient, taking into account to their needs, their preferences and their values,” she said.

“We are recognizing that hospitals and clinicians are in an untenable situation,” Heisler added.

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These women ran an underground abortion network in the 1960s. Here’s what they fear might happen today | CNN



CNN
 — 

The voice on the phone in 1966 was gruff and abrupt: “Do you want the Chevy, the Cadillac or the Rolls Royce?”

A Chevy abortion would cost about $200, cash in hand, the voice explained. A Cadillac was around $500, and the Rolls Royce was $1,000.

“You can’t afford more than the Chevy? Fine,” the voice growled. “Go to this address at this time. Don’t be late and don’t forget the cash.” The voice disappeared.

Dorie Barron told CNN she recalls staring blankly at the phone in her hand, startled by the sudden empty tone. Then it hit her: She had just arranged an illegal abortion with the Chicago Mafia.

The motel Barron was sent to was in an unfamiliar part of Chicago, a scary “middle of nowhere,” she said. She was told to go to a specific room, sit on the bed and wait. Suddenly three men and a woman came in the door.

“I was petrified. They spoke all of three sentences to me the entire time: ‘Where’s the money?’ ‘Lie back and do as I tell you.’ And finally ‘Get in the bathroom,’” when the abortion was over, Barron said. “Then all of a sudden they were gone.”

Bleeding profusely, Barron managed to find a cab to take her home. When the bleeding didn’t stop, her bed-ridden mother made her go to the hospital.

At 24, Barron was taking care of her ailing mother and her 2-year-old daughter when she discovered she was pregnant. Her boyfriend, who had no job and lived with his parents, “freaked,” said Barron, who appears in a recent HBO documentary. The boyfriend suggested she get an abortion. She had never considered that option.

“But what was I to do? My mom was taking care of my daughter from her bed while I worked — they would read and play games until I got home,” Barron said.”How was either of us going to cope with a baby?

“Looking back, I realize I was taking my life in my hands,” said Barron, now an 81-year-old grandmother. “To this day it gives me chills. If I had died, what in God’s green earth would have happened to my mom and daughter?”

Women in the 1960s endured restrictions relatively unknown to women today. The so-called “fairer sex” could not serve on juries and often could not get an Ivy League education. Women earned about half as much as a man doing the same job and were seldom promoted.

Women could not get a credit card unless they were married — and then only if their husband co-signed. The same applied to birth control — only the married need apply. More experienced women shared a workaround with the uninitiated: “Go to Woolworth, buy a cheap wedding-type ring and wear it to your doctor’s appointment. And don’t forget to smile.”

Marital rape wasn’t legally considered rape. And, of course, women had no legal right to terminate a pregnancy until four states — Alaska, Hawaii, New York and Washington — legalized abortion in 1970, three years before Roe v. Wade became the law of the land.

Illinois had no such protection, said Heather Booth, a lifelong feminist activist and political strategist: “Three people discussing having an abortion in Chicago in 1965 was a conspiracy to commit felony murder.”

Despite that danger, a courageous band of young women — most in their 20’s, some in college, some married with children — banded together in Chicago to create an underground abortion network. The group was officially created in 1969 as the “Abortion Counseling Service of Women’s Liberation.”

But after running ads in an underground newspaper: “Pregnant? Don’t want to be? Call Jane,” each member of the group answered the phone as “Jane.”

Despite their youth, members of Jane managed to run an illegal abortion service dedicated to each woman's needs.
From left: Martha Scott, Jeanne Galatzer-Levy, Abby Pariser, Sheila Smith and Madeline Schwenk.

“We were co-conspirators with the women who called us,” said 75-year-old Laura Kaplan, who published a book about the service in 1997 entitled “The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service.”

“We’ll protect you; we hope you’ll protect us,” Kaplan said. “We’ll take care of you; we hope you’ll take care of us.”

What started as referrals to legitimate abortion providers changed to personalized service when some members of Jane learned to safely do the abortions themselves. Between the late 1960s and 1973, the year that the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, Jane had arranged or performed over 11,000 abortions.

“Our culture is always searching for heroes,” said Kaplan. “But you don’t have to be a hero to do extraordinary things. Jane was just ordinary people working together — and look what we could accomplish, which is amazing, right?”

Even after several members were caught and arrested, the group continued to provide abortions for women too poor to travel to states where abortion had been legalized.

“I prayed a lot. I didn’t want to go to jail,” said 80-year-old Marie Learner, who allowed the Janes to perform abortions at her apartment.

“Some of us had little children. Some were the sole breadwinners in their home,” Learner said. “It was fearlessness in the face of overwhelming odds.”

Marie Learner opened her home to women undergoing abortions. Her neighbors knew, she said, but did not tell police.

The story of Jane has been immortalized in Kaplan’s book, numerous print articles, a 2022 movie, “Call Jane,” starring Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver, and a documentary on HBO (which, like CNN, is owned by Warner Bros. Discovery).

Today the historical tale of Jane has taken on a new significance. After the 2022 Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade and the mid-term takeover of the US House of Representatives by Republicans, emboldened conservative lawmakers and judges have acted on their anti-abortion beliefs.

Currently more than a dozen states have banned or imposed severe restrictions on abortion. Georgia has banned abortions after six weeks, even though women are typically unaware they are pregnant at that stage. In mid-April, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that would ban most abortions after six weeks. It won’t go into effect until the state Supreme Court overturns its previous precedent on abortion. Several other states are considering similar legislation. In other states, judicial battles are underway to protect abortion access.

“It’s a horrific situation right now. People will be harmed, some may even die,” said Booth, who helped birth the Jane movement while in college.

“Women without family support, without the information they need, may be isolated and either harm themselves looking to end an unwanted pregnancy or will be harmed because they went to an unscrupulous and illegal provider,” said Booth, now 77.

A key difference between the 60s and today is medication abortion, which 54% of people in the United States used to end a pregnancy in 2022. Available via prescription and through the mail, use of the drugs is two-fold: A person takes a first pill, mifepristone, to block the hormone needed for a pregnancy to continue.  A day or two later, the patient takes a second drug, misoprostol, which causes the uterus to contract, creating the cramping and bleeding of labor.

In early April a Texas judge, US District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk – a Trump appointee who has been vocal about his anti-abortion stance — suspended the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone despite 23 years of data showing the drug is safe to use, safer even than penicillin or Viagra.

On Friday, the Supreme Court froze the ruling and a subsequent decision by the Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals at the request of the Justice Department and the drug manufacturer. The action allows access to mifepristone in states where it’s legal until appeals play out over the months to come.

However, 15 states currently restrict access to medication abortion, even by mail.

The actions of anti-abortion activists, who have been accused of “judge shopping” to get the decisions they want, is “an unprecedented attack on democracy meant to undermine the will of the vast majority of Americans who want this pill — mifepristone — to remain legal and available,” Heather Booth told CNN.

“This is a further weaponization of the courts to brazenly advance the end goal of banning abortion entirely,” she added.

If women in her day could have had access to medications that could be used safely in their homes, they would not have been forced to risk their lives, said Dorie Barron, thinking back to her own terrifying abortion in a sketchy Chicago motel.

“I’m depressed as hell, watching stupid, indifferent men control and destroy women’s lives all over again,” she said. “I really fear getting an abortion could soon be like 1965.”

Chicago college student Heather Booth had just finished a summer working with civil rights activists in Mississippi when she was asked to help with a different kind of injustice.

Heather Booth, 18, with civil rights heroine Fannie Lou Hamer during

A girl in another dorm was considering suicide because she was pregnant. Booth, who excelled at both organization and chutzpah, found a local doctor and negotiated an abortion for the girl. Word spread quickly.

“There were about 100 women a week calling for help, much more than one person could handle,” Booth said. “I recruited about 12 other people and began training them how to do the counseling.”

Counseling was a key part of the new service. This was a time when people “barely spoke about sex, how women’s bodies functioned or even how people got pregnant,” Booth said. To help each woman understand what was going to happen to them, Booth quizzed the abortion provider about every aspect of the procedure.

“What do you do in advance? Will it be painful? How painful? Can you walk afterwards? Do you need someone to be with you to take you home?” The questions continued: “What amount of bleeding is expected, and can a woman handle it on their own? If there’s a problem is there an urgent number they can call?”

Armed with details few if any physicians provided, the counselors at Jane could fully inform each caller about the abortion experience. The group even published a flyer describing the procedure, long before the groundbreaking 1970 book “Our Bodies, Ourselves” began to educate women about their sexuality and health.

“I don’t particularly like doctors because I always feel dissatisfied with the experience,” said Marie Learner, who spoke to many of the women who underwent an abortion at her home.

“But after their abortion at Jane, women told me, ‘Wow, that was the best experience I’ve ever had with people helping me with a medical issue.’”

Eileen Smith, now 73, was one of those women. “Jane made you feel like you were part of this bigger picture, like we were all in this together,” she said. “They helped me do this illegal thing and then they’re calling to make sure I’m OK? Wow!

“For me, it helped battle the feeling that I was a bad person, that ‘What’s wrong with me? Why did I get pregnant? I should know better’ voice in my head,” said Smith. “It was priceless.”

Like many young women in the 60s, Heather Booth often protested for civil and women's rights.

Many of the women who joined Jane had never experienced an abortion. Some viewed the work as political, a part of the burgeoning feminist movement. Others considered the service as simply humanitarian health care. All saw the work as an opportunity to respect each woman’s choice.

“I was a stay-at-home mom with four kids,” said Martha Scott, who is now in her 80s. “We knew the woman needed to feel as though she was in control of what was happening to her. We were making it happen for her, but it was not about us. It was about her.”

Some volunteers, like Dorie Barron, experienced the Jane difference firsthand when she found herself pregnant a few years after her abortion at the hands of the Mafia.

“It was a 100% total reversal — I had never experienced such kindness,” Barron said. Not only did a Jane hold each woman’s hand and explain every step of the process, “they gave each of us a giant supply of maternity sanitary pads, and a nice big handful of antibiotics,” she said. “And for the next week, I got a phone call every other day to see how I was.”

Barron soon began volunteering for Jane by providing pregnancy testing for women in the back of a church in Chicago’s Hyde Park.

“It wasn’t just abortion,” Barron explained. “We also said, ‘You could consider adoption,’ and gave adoption referrals. And if the woman wanted to continue with her pregnancy, we said, ‘Fine, please by all that is holy make sure you get prenatal care, take your vitamins, and eat as best you can.’ It was women helping women with whatever they needed.”

Most of the women who contacted Jane were unable to support themselves, in unhealthy relationships, or already had children at home, so the service was a way of “helping them get back on track,” said Smith, who, like Barron, had begun working for Jane after her abortion.

“We were telling them ‘This isn’t the end of the world. You can continue to leave your boyfriend or your husband or continue to just take care of those kids you have.’ We were there to help them get through this,” said Smith, who later became a homecare nurse.

From left: Eileen Smith, Diane Stevens and Benita Greenfield were three of the dozens of women who volunteered for Jane.

Diane Stevens says she came to work for Jane after experiencing an abortion in 1968 at the age of 19. She was living in California at the time, which provided “therapeutic abortions” if approved in advance by physicians.

“I’d had a birth control failure, and I was coached by Planned Parenthood on how to do this,” said Stevens, now 74. “I had to see two psychiatrists and one doctor and tell them I was not able to go through with the pregnancy because it would a danger to both my physical and mental health.

“I was admitted to the psychiatric ward, although I didn’t really know that — I thought I was just in a hospital bed. But oh no, ‘I was mentally ill,’ so that’s where they put me,” said Stevens, who later went to nursing school with Smith. “Then they wheeled me off for the abortion. I had general anesthesia, was there for two days, and then I was discharged. Isn’t that crazy?”

Sakinah Ahad Shannon, now 75, was one of the few Black women who volunteered as a counselor at Jane. She joined after accompanying a friend who was charged a mere $50 for her abortion. At that time, Jane’s fee was between $1 and $100, based on what the woman could afford to pay, Shannon said.

“When I walked in, I said, ‘Oh my God, here we go again. It’s a room of White women, archangels who are going to save the world,’” said Shannon, a social worker and member of the Congress of Racial Equality, an interracial group of non-violent activists who pioneered “Freedom Rides” and helped organize the March on Washington in 1963.

What she heard and saw at her friend’s counseling session was so impressive it “changed my life,” Shannon said. She and her family later opened and operated three Chicago abortion clinics for over 25 years, all using the Jane philosophy of communication and respect.

“It was a profoundly amazing experience for me,” she said. “I call the Janes my sisters. The color line didn’t matter. We were all taking the same risk.”

Sakinah Ahad Shannon and her daughters went on to open and run three abortion clinics in Chicago.

It wasn’t long before the women discovered a “doctor” performing abortions for Jane had been lying about his credentials. There was no medical degree — in the HBO documentary, he admitted he had honed his skills by assisting an abortion provider.

The group imploded. A number of members quit in horror and dismay. For the women who stayed, it was an epiphany, said Martha Scott. Like her, several of the Janes had been assisting this fake doctor for years, learning the procedures step by step.

“You’d learn how to insert a speculum, then how to swap out the vagina with an antiseptic, then how to give numbing shots around the cervix and then how to dilate the cervix. You learned and mastered each step before you moved on to the next,” said Laura Kaplan, who chronicled the procedure in her book.

By now, several of the Janes were quite experienced and willing to do the work. Why not perform the abortions themselves?

“Clearly, this was an intense responsibility,” said Judith Acana, a 27-year-old high school teacher who joined Jane in 1970. She started her training by helping “long terms,” women who were four or five months along in the pregnancy.

“Remember, abortion was illegal (in Illinois) so it could take weeks for a woman to find help,” said Arcana, now 80. “Frequently women who wanted an abortion at 8 or 10 weeks wound up being 16 or 18 weeks or more by the time they found Jane.”

The miscarriage could happen quickly, but it rarely did, she said. It usually took anywhere from one to two days.

“Women who had no one to help them would come back when contractions started,” Arcana said. “One of my strongest memories is of a teenage girl who had an appointment to have her miscarriage on my living room floor.”

The group also paid two Janes to live in an apartment and be on call 24/7 to assist women who had no one to help them miscarry at home, said Arcana, a lifelong educator, author and poet. “But many women took care of it on their own, in very amazing and impressive and powerful ways,” she said.

Judith Arcana learned how to do abortions herself and wrote about the Jane experience in poems, stories, essays and books.

Any woman who had concerns or questions while miscarrying alone could always call Jane for advice any time of the day or night.

“People would call in a panic: ‘The bleeding won’t stop,’” Smith recalled. “I would tell them, ‘Get some ice, put it on your stomach, elevate your legs, relax.’ And they would say ‘Oh my gosh, thank you!’ because they were so scared.”

For women who were in their first trimester, Jane offered traditional D&C abortions — the same dilation and curettage used by hospitals then and today, said Scott, who performed many of the abortions for Jane. Later the group used vacuum aspiration, which was over in a mere five to 10 minutes.

“Vacuum aspiration was much easier to do, and I think it’s less difficult for the woman,” Scott said. “Abortion is exactly like any other medical procedure. It’s the decision that’s an issue — the doing is very straightforward. This was something a competent, trained person could do.”

It was May 3, 1972. Judith Arcana was the driver that day, responsible for relocating women waiting at what was called “the front” to a separate apartment or house where the abortions were done, known as “the place.”

On this day, a Wednesday, the “place” was a South Shore high-rise apartment. Arcana was escorting a woman who had completed her abortion when they were stopped by police at the elevator.

“They asked us, ‘Which apartment did you come out of?’ And the poor woman burst into tears and blurted out the apartment number,” Arcana said. “They took me downstairs, put cuffs on me and hooked me to a steel hook inside of the police van.”

Inside the apartment on the 11th floor, Martha Scott said she was setting up the bedroom for the next abortion when she heard a knock at the door, followed by screaming: “You can’t come in!”

“I shut the bedroom door and locked it,” Scott said, then hid the instruments and sat on the bed to wait. It wasn’t long until a cop kicked the door in and made her join the other women in the living room.

“We tell this joke about how the cops came in, saw all these women and said, ‘Where’s the abortionist?’ You know, assuming that it would be a man,” Scott said.

By day’s end, seven members of Jane were behind bars: Martha Scott, Diane Stevens, Judy Arcana, Jeanne Galatzer-Levy, Abby Pariser, Sheila Smith and Madeleine Schwenk. Suddenly what had been an underground effort for years was front page headlines.

“Had we not gotten arrested, I think no one would ever have known about Jane other than the women we served,” Scott said.

Top: Sheila Smith and Martha Scott.
Bottom: Diane Stevens and Judith Arcana.

An emergency meeting of Jane was called. The turnout was massive — even women who had not been active in months showed up, anxious to know the extent of the police probe, according to the women with whom CNN spoke.

Despite widespread fear and worry, the group immediately began making alternate plans for women scheduled for abortions at Jane in the next few days to weeks. The group even paid for transportation to other cities where abortion had already been legalized, they said.

News reports over the next few days gave further details of the bust: There was no widespread investigation by the police. It was a single incident, triggered by a call from a sister-in-law who was upset with her relative’s decision to have an abortion, they said.

“It wasn’t long after I was arrested that I came back and worked for quite a few months,” said Scott, one of the few fully trained to do abortions.

“I like to think I was a good soldier,” Scott said. “I like to think what did made a difference not only to a whole bunch of people, but also to ourselves. It gave us a sense of empowerment that comes when you do something that is hard to do and also right.”

As paranoia eased, women began to come back to work at Jane, determined to carry on.

“After the bust, we had a meeting and were told ‘Everybody needs to start assisting and learn how to do abortions.’ I was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa!’” said Eileen Smith, who had not been arrested. “But you felt like you really didn’t have much of a choice. We had to keep the service running.”

Laura Kaplan volunteered for the Janes, later immortalizing the group in her book,

The preliminary hearing for the arrested seven was in August. Several of the women in the apartment waiting for abortions the day of the arrest suddenly developed amnesia and refused to testify. According to Kaplan’s book, one of the women later said, “The cops tried to push me around, but f**k them. I wasn’t going to tell on you.”

It didn’t matter. Each Jane was charged with 11 counts of abortion and conspiracy to commit abortion, with a possible sentence of up to 110 years in prison.

As they waited for trial, the lawyer for the seven, Jo-Anne Wolfson, adopted delaying tactics, Kaplan said. A case representing a Texas woman, cited as “Jane Roe” to protect her privacy, was being considered by the US Supreme Court. If the Court ruled in Roe’s favor, the case against the Jane’s might be thrown out.

That’s exactly what happened. On March 9, 1973, three months after the Supreme Court had legalized abortion in the US, the case against the seven women was dropped and their arrest records were expunged.

Later that spring, a majority of Janes, burned out by the intensity of the work over the last few years, voted to close shop. An end of Jane party was held on May 20. According to Kaplan’s book, the invitation read:

“You are cordially invited to attend The First, Last and Only Curette Caper; the Grand Finale of the Abortion Counseling Service. RSVP: Call Jane.”

Today, most of the surviving members of Jane are in their 70s and 80s, shocked but somehow not surprised by the actions of abortion opponents.

“This is a country of ill-educated politicos who know nothing about women’s bodies, nor do they care,” said Dorie Barron. “It will take generations to even begin to undo the devastating harm to women’s rights.”

In the meantime, women should research all available options, keep that information confidential, seek support from groups working for abortion rights, and “share your education with as many women as you can,” Barron added.

As more and more reproductive freedoms have been rolled back over the past year, many of the Janes are angry and fearful for the future.

Abortion rights demonstrators walk across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York nearly two weeks after the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

“This is about the most intimate decision of our lives — when, whether and with whom we have a child. Everyone should have the ability to make decisions about our own lives, bodies, and futures without political interference,” said Heather Booth, who has spent her life after leaving Jane fighting for civil and women’s rights.

“We need to organize, raise our voices and our votes, and overturn this attack on our freedom and our lives. I have seen that when we take action and organize we can change the world.”

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Texas abortion drug ruling could create ‘slippery slope’ for FDA approvals, drug research and patients, experts say | CNN



CNN
 — 

What happened in one judge’s courtroom in Texas could have drastic effects for the United States’ entire drug approval process, experts warn.

US District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s ruling that suspended the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the medication abortion drug mifepristone was an unprecedented one, the first time a court has bypassed the federal system set up to determine what drugs should be allowed on the market.

Regardless of whether the ruling – or a part of it – is ultimately allowed to stand, legal scholars, scientists and drugmakers are concerned that the decision could start a trend of drugs being targeted in courts, creating a chilling effect on drug development in the US and hurting patients in the process.

Vaccines, including the Covid-19 shots, antidepressants and psychotropic medicines could be at risk, some said.

“Well, one does not want to be Chicken Little,” former FDA Commissioner Dr. Jane Henney said Wednesday, but “I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t have implications for other products.

“The approval process will be at risk, and it’s not just an approval process that patients rely on and providers rely on, it’s one that has been considered the gold standard, really, for the world,” said Henney, who was the head of the FDA when mifepristone was approved.

Since the dawn of the 20th century, the FDA has had the sole authority in the United States to regulate drugs. In 1906, the federal government created the agency to enforce the Pure Food and Drug Act, which was instituted to ensure that medicine, food and cosmetics were safe.

Over the years, that authority became more defined.

After elixir of sulfanilamide, a drug used to treat streptococcal infections, killed 107 people in 1937, Congress created the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Signed into law in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, it required manufacturers to conduct pharmacological studies to prove that their drugs were safe before they could be sold or advertised. In 1962, drug manufacturers were also required to prove to the FDA that their products were effective.

Modern drug approval in the US is a careful and conscientious process. Before any drug goes to market, there are countless hours of research, the work and expertise of multiple scientists, and several layers of oversight for approval.

Until now, the courts have been deferential to the FDA’s process and have never overturned an FDA decision on the grounds that the agency misjudged the science, said William Schultz, a former deputy commissioner at the FDA and former general counsel for the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Any FDA drug approval involves hundreds of judgments by the agency. And if a court feels free just to kind of take a fresh look at each of those, there’s a chance that a court will find one of those FDA judgments wrong,” Schultz said in an online discussion Monday about the impact of the Texas court’s ruling that was hosted by Protect Our Care, an organization that advocates for equitable and affordable health care.

Hundreds of well-known biotech and pharmaceutical company leaders, concerned about the effects of Kacsmaryk’s ruling on other drug approvals, signed an open letter Monday in support of the FDA’s authority “to approve and regulate safe, effective medicines for every American.”

The letter also advocated a reversal of the mifepristone decision from a judge with “no scientific training,” saying it “set a precedent for diminishing FDA’s authority over drug approvals, and in so doing, creates uncertainty for the entire biopharma industry.”

In a separate statement, the biotech industry group BIO’s interim president and CEO, Rachel King, emphasized the “dangerous precedent” the decision sets.

“The preliminary ruling by a federal judge in Texas is an assault on science and the FDA’s long-standing role as the authority to make decisions on the safety and efficacy of medicines. For a court to invalidate the approval of a drug that was reviewed and approved more than two decades ago is without precedent. As legal scholars have noted, the courts do not have the medical expertise to make these types of scientific determinations,” King said.

The main lobbying group for the pharmaceutical industry, PhRMA, criticized Kacsmaryk’s ruling as undermining the regulatory process.

“PhRMA has serious concerns with any court substituting its opinion for the FDA’s expert approval decision-making,” said James C. Stansel, the association’s executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. Stansel added that such a decision could have a “chilling effect on the research and development ecosystem.”

The pharmacutical sector is a huge part of the American economy. Of the world’s 25 largest phamacutical companies, 10 are based in the US, and most of the others have a large base of operations in the country.

Often, the US market is the first to get access to new drugs, but that could change if lawsuits undermine the regulatory integrity of the FDA process, said Susan Lee, partner in the law firm Goodwin’s Life Sciences group and Life Sciences Regulatory & Compliance practice, who works with companies to get drugs approved by the FDA.

“If there do tend to be more lawsuits like this, I wonder if there might be a little bit of a tendency to not always look at the US as the first market,” Lee said. “Some manufacturers may say ‘we’d rather go to Europe, where we’re not going to be sued on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis.’ “

Lee also wonders whether manufacturers will abandon efforts to develop drugs that could be considered unappealing to some, such as those that help women’s health or work to prevent HIV.

“I think there are just certain sectors that are already kind of thinking about whether they might also have a target on their back. I’ve definitely heard that discussed,” Lee said.

The groups at the heart of the Texas case have not disclosed any further plans regarding lawsuits over medications, but experts say they are already hearing concern.

“I’ve already been getting questions from lawmakers and other people about ‘could the Covid vaccine be next?’ or other things that may have stigma around it,” said Dr. Kristyn Brandi, an ob/gyn and abortion provider in New Jersey and a spokesperson for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The Covid-19 vaccines have been thoroughly tested and found to be safe and effective, but they’re the subject of conspiracy theories and misunderstanding about how mRNA vaccines were tested. Beliefs that the vaccines were tested on recently harvested aborted fetal cells made some people decidedly anti-vaccine.

Dr. Lynn R. Goldman, professor and dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, is also concerned that mRNA vaccines could be targeted soon.

“There might be people who disagree with some of the technologies that are used by vaccine makers, like the mRNA vaccines, but feeling uncomfortable about a technology is not the same thing as identifying that there is risk,” she said in the Protect Our Care conversation.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community may also be vulnerable, experts say, as activists could target puberty blockers or hormones used in gender-affirming therapy.

“I don’t like to do slippery slope, but I’m also very worried about things like gender-affirming care, since there’s already been so many laws about that recently in other states,” Brandi said.

There is political pressure against other vaccines, antidepressants and psychotropic medicines, among others, former FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg and former Principal Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein wrote in an editorial published Thursday in the journal Science.

“If judges begin to dictate the terms of medication access, then others will seek to use ideology and influence to advance their agendas,” they warn.

Goldman said that any legal decision that could undermine the FDA drug approval process would ultimately hurt the doctors who prescribe them and the people who use them.

Doctors don’t have time to vet all the studies used to prove that a drug is safe and effective, so they rely on the FDA for this work, she said. Court interference could confuse this process.

“I think that this is, for doctors, an incredibly serious moment, because up to now, we have been able to trust that an approval by the FDA is a science-based decision and that we can say that if the FDA has approved a drug, that it is safe for us to use,” Goldman said.

A lack of confidence in the drug approval process will ultimately hurt people far beyond the most recent decision, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach says.

“Confidence that the FDA can do its work is essential for clinicians and patients who depend on it in its decision-making for matters of life and death,” Dach said.

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Clinics and doctors brace for more restrictions on women’s health care after court ruling on abortion drug | CNN



CNN
 — 

Less than a year after the US Supreme Court ended legal protection for abortions nationwide, clinics that provide reproductive health care across the United States are bracing for more restrictions on the care they provide to women.

If a judge’s ruling takes effect Friday, it may soon be illegal for doctors to prescribe mifepristone, the first in a two-drug regimen that can help women terminate a pregnancy at home – and that has other uses.

At Northeast Ohio Women’s Center, staffers are calling patients who expected to get medication abortions next week, telling them to change their plans.

“They’re scrambling to change their schedules to get in to see us earlier,” said Dr. David Burkons, the physician who runs the clinics.

About half of abortions in the US use mifepristone, which is sold under the brand name Mifeprex.

Mifeprex blocks the hormone progesterone, which effectively stops a pregnancy from continuing. For an abortion, women take mifepristone first, followed one or two days later by misoprostol, a drug that causes the uterus to contract, cramp and bleed, similar to a heavy period. It empties out the uterus, ending the pregnancy. It can be used up to 10 weeks of pregnancy.

But the uses of mifepristone go beyond abortion.

The drug helps soften and open the cervix, the neck of the uterus, and doctors depend on it to help when women are having a miscarriage and when a pregnancy needs to be terminated quickly if the life of the mother is at stake.

In certain situations, when a pregnancy has become too risky, time is of the essence, says Dr. Alison Edelman, who directs the division of Complex Family Planning at Oregon Health and Sciences University.

“The more expediently that we can have somebody not be pregnant, the better, and mifepristone helps us speed that process up and make it safer for patients,” she said.

Doctors also use mifepristone before procedures in which they need to go into the uterus, such as to remove bleeding polyps. Studies have shown that the drug helps reduce the amount of force needed to open the cervix and reduces the amount of blood loss associated with the procedure.

Studies also show that mifepristone has moderate to strong benefits for inducing labor and treating uterine fibroids and endometriosis, sometimes helping avoid surgery, according to the American Society of Health Systems Pharmacists.

It can be used to prevent bleeding between periods and to control hyperstimulation of the ovaries during in-vitro fertilization, the society said in a statement.

Doctors say they still have other ways to treat those problems, but when considering the needs of individual patients, they will be missing a valuable tool.

“We have our gold standard of what we provide – the safest, most effective regimen – and then if it’s not available, we use the next best one. And that’s what we would be left with,” Edelman said.

Mifepristone has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for 23 years, and it has been used by over 5 million women in the United States. FDA data shows that less than 1% of women who take it have significant adverse events. A CNN analysis of FDA data found that mifepristone was even less risky than some other common medications, including Viagra and penicillin.

Medication abortions have become an increasingly important option for women in states that restricted abortion access after the Supreme Court’s ruling last year that ended legal protections for abortions in every state. They are also sometimes the only kind of abortion many women can get in rural areas that have lost abortion providers.

This ease of access has also made the medication regimen a target for abortion opponents.

“They want to see a national ban, and this is in fact what they are going for in this case,” said Kristen Moore, director of the EMAA Project, a nonprofit that is seeking to make it easier to get abortion medications in the US.

What will happen next is far from settled. Appeals have been filed to stop the ruling in Texas from taking hold, and higher courts will have to weigh in.

Even if the court does take mifepristone off the market in the US, doctors say, they will still be able to provide medication abortions using misoprostol alone.

In fact, some abortion providers have been planning on using misoprostol by itself in case mifepristone is isn’t available.

Carafem, which provides telehealth abortion care, has been offering a misoprostol-only regimen since the Covid-19 pandemic began, Chief Operating Officer Melissa Grant says.

“In 2020, we started to use misoprostol alone as an option,” she said. Workers have since been tweaking the regimen and gathering data.

“We now feel confident that, even though we would much prefer to use both, that we can use misoprostol alone effectively and are ready to switch gears to have a higher percentage of our clients or even 100% of our colleagues use that option if necessary,” Grant said.

Still, some providers said it’s not ideal.

The misoprostol-only regimen is slightly less effective than the one that uses both drugs, and it causes more cramping and bleeding, which can mean more complications.

“We’re more likely to see failures and therefore more likely to need surgical intervention after misoprostol alone,” said Dr. Erika Werner, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Tufts Medical Center.

Still, doctors want women to know that medication abortions and miscarriage care will still be available even if mifepristone isn’t. And they hope that higher courts will intervene to keep this medication on pharmacy shelves.

“The clinicians would have to use these other options instead of choosing based on their own expertise, knowledge and judgment when rendering such care,” Dr. Iffath Hoskins, president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said Monday. “Frankly, as a clinician, I do not want to be in that position.”

Correction: This story has been updated to include the correct name of Tufts Medical Center.

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Concerned about the courts, some states and universities are stockpiling abortion drugs | CNN



CNN
 — 

With an eye on the courts, a growing number of Democratic-led states are stockpiling the pills that can be used for a medication abortion, the most common form of the procedure in the US.

The officials want to be prepared, in case US District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s decision to suspend the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone goes through, so medication abortions would still be available in their states for some period of time. But they’re taking different approaches to the idea.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Tuesday that her state’s Department of Health would buy 150,000 doses of misoprostol, the other of the two drugs typically used in a medication abortion.

Misoprostol can be used off-label for an abortion, without mifepristone, but patients often have to use more of it. It would not be covered by the court case, and if Kacsmaryk’s decision stands, the New York City’s Health Department tweeted, it will change to using this medication only.

“Medication abortion continues to be available at our Sexual Health Clinics and NYC Health + Hospitals locations. Should mifepristone become unavailable, we will continue to make medication abortion accessible to all in NYC by shifting to a misoprostol-only treatment regimen,” the tweet said.

The state says the 150,000 doses should represent a five-year supply of pills.

“Anti-choice extremists have shown that they are not stopping at overturning Roe, and they are working to entirely dismantle our country’s reproductive health care system, including medication abortion and contraception,” Hochul said. “New York will always be a safe harbor for abortion care, and I am taking action to protect abortion access in our State and continue to lead the nation in defending the right to reproductive autonomy.”

California is also stocking up on misoprostol.

“While California still believes Mifepristone is central to the preferred regimen for medication abortion, the State negotiated and purchased an emergency stockpile of Misoprostol in anticipation of Friday’s ruling by far-right federal judge Matthew Kacsmaryk to ensure that California remains a safe haven for safe, affordable, and accessible reproductive care,” Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said in a release Monday.

California plans to purchase up to 2 million pills through CalRx, a state initiative set up to make drugs more affordable.

The governor’s office said the state now has more than 250,000 pills on hand, which it purchased for about $100,000.

California said it shared the terms of its purchase agreement with other members of the Reproductive Freedom Alliance, a nonpartisan coalition of 21 governors who are committed to protecting reproductive rights, and who might also be interested in taking such action.

Another member of that alliance, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, announced last week that his state bought a three year-supply of mifepristone, the drug at the center of Kacsmaryk’s ruling.

Inslee directed the state Department of Corrections – which has a pharmacy license and is legally able to buy medications – to buy the drug last month, he said, and the shipment was delivered March 31. The University of Washington also purchased 10,000 doses.

Lawmakers are introducing a bill to authorize officials to distribute or sell the medication to licensed providers throughout the state.

“This Texas lawsuit is a clear and present danger to patients and providers all across the country. Washington will not sit by idly and risk the devastating consequences of inaction,” Inslee said. “Washington is a pro-choice state, and no Texas judge will order us otherwise.”

In the meantime, its attorney general, Bob Ferguson, is helping lead a multistate lawsuit to protect access to mifepristone.

On Friday, the same day Kacsmaryk’s ruling came down, a federal judge in Washington ordered the US not to make any changes that would restrict access to mifepristone in the territories that brought the lawsuit: 17 states and the District of Columbia.

On Monday, Massachusetts Gov. Maura T. Healey announced that at her request, the University of Massachusetts and health care providers have also taken action to stockpile doses of mifepristone.

The governor’s office said last week that the university bought about 15,000 doses of mifepristone, enough to cover the commonwealth for about a year, and the pills are expected to arrive this week. Local health care providers have agreed to buy more, and the government agreed to set aside $1 million to pay for those doses.

The Massachusetts governor also signed an executive order confirming protections for medication abortion under existing law.

“Here in Massachusetts, we are not going to let one extremist judge in Texas turn back the clock on this proven medication and restrict access to care in our state,” Healey said. “The action we are taking today protects access to mifepristone in Massachusetts and protects patients and providers from liability. In Massachusetts, we stand for civil rights and freedom. We will always protect access to reproductive health care, including medication abortion.”

Danco Laboratories, the manufacturer of the brand-name version of mifepristone, says that orders for the drug have increased substantially in recent months and are significantly higher than they were at this time last year.

Demand for mifepristone is up across all types of customers, including clinics, pharmacies and individual providers, said Abby Long, Danco’s director of public affairs. But Massachusetts is the only state that has requested an especially large number of pills from the company.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills, who called the Texas decision “reckless” and a “fundamental assault on women’s rights,” said Monday that her administration is evaluating its options, “including procuring mifepristone if needed, to protect access to medication abortion for Maine women.”

The Connecticut governor’s office said Wednesday that it is also monitoring the situation.

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek’s office said in an email Wednesday that she has directed the Oregon Health Authority to “explore all available avenues for ensuring Oregon is prepared should Mifepristone become less available. That includes evaluating the supply of Mifepristone and Misoprostol and consulting with providers to better understand the potential impact on the provision of abortion and reproductive health care and what additional support might be necessary.”



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Jay Inslee: Send Me Your Trans Kids And Women Needing Abortions, But Not Your AR-15s

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Jay Inslee is still the governor of Washington, what with all the competence and the just generally not making a lot of waves. But damn, he and Democrats in the state Lege have done some good governing lately. This week, the state Senate passed a “shield law” to protect transgender people in Washington, including people fleeing the increasingly awful anti-trans laws in other states. It now goes to Inslee for his signature. That will make Washington the 10th state with a law or an executive order protecting people — especially trans minors and their families — who cross state lines to receive gender- affirming medical care.

But wait! There’s more! Like some other shield laws, Washington HB 1469 will also protect people who travel to Washington seeking abortion services, since it’s written to include both gender-affirming care and “reproductive health care services that are lawful in the state of Washington” under the umbrella of “protected healthcare services.” So it’s a twofer of protection against the most extreme laws being passed in other states.


As the indispensable indy journalist Erin Reed reports, the bill even goes a little further than some other states’ already good safe haven laws and EOs. Where some, like Minnesota’s executive order, authorize the governor to refuse extradition to other states that want to punish healthcare providers or parents for “aiding and abetting” the provision of gender-affirming care, HB 1469 actually prohibits Washington’s governor from cooperating with such requests. (That’s why a law is better than an EO — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz can’t prevent future governors from acting against trans folks.) Here’s that bit from the Washington law:

The governor of this state shall not surrender any person described in subsection (1) of this section where the charge against the person is based on the provision, receipt, attempted provision or receipt, assistance in the provision or receipt, or attempted assistance in the provision or receipt of protected health care services as defined in section 2 of this act that are lawful in the state of Washington.

For instance, if someone is charged under Idaho’s stupid new “abortion trafficking” law, which prohibits anyone but parents from assisting a minor in getting abortion services, Washington will refuse to extradite Aunt Nora or her Subaru Outback.

Further, the law prohibits state agencies from cooperating with data requests from states investigating people for providing or using protected health services — even under subpoena from another state.

The day before Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed that “abortion trafficking” bill, Inslee sent Little a letter to very politely tell him what a shitty idea the law was. Inslee wrote,

I question the constitutionality of this law and I know you are aware of the costly legal challenges that await should you choose to sign this bill, but, as the governor of a neighboring state, I am also deeply concerned about the impacts that (Engrossed House Bill) 242 will have on Washington residents traveling to and from Idaho.

Inslee also warned Little against any attempt to punish Washington healthcare providers under the new Idaho law, which includes a bizarre provision allowing lawsuits for no less than $20,000 to be brought against medical providers on the behalf of an aborted fetus by a relative of said nonbaby. Inslee wrote,

But, make no mistake, Governor Little, the laws of another state that seek to punish anyone in Washington for lawful actions taken in Washington will not stand. We will protect our providers, and we will harbor and comfort your residents who seek health care services that are denied to them in Idaho.

Even before a federal judge in Texas cancel-cultured the decades-old FDA authorization of the abortion pill mifepristone, Inslee took steps to stockpile a four-year supply, a total of 40,000 doses. Inslee managed that with One Weird Trick, as the Seattle Times explains:

Inslee ordered the Department of Corrections, which has a pharmacy license, to buy 30,000 doses of mifepristone last month. UW Medicine also obtained 10,000 doses of the drug. Between the two entities, Inslee said, the state now has about a four-year supply. […]

State lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 5768 to authorize the Department of Corrections to sell or distribute the drug to licensed providers in Washington.

In a statement last week, Inslee called the Texas lawsuit “a clear and present danger to patients and providers” not only in Washington, but all across the US, saying that Washington is “a pro-choice state and no Texas judge will order us otherwise.”

Finally, over the weekend, the state Senate passed a ban on assault weapons that Inslee had pushed for; the bill had already been passed by the state House, but since the Senate added some amendments, it has to get final passage in the House before it goes to Inslee to be signed. The bill will ban the sale, manufacture, and import of assault weapons, but doesn’t ban their possession because that would be a whole ‘nother pile of lawsuits.

“Passing an assault weapon ban will be a momentous step forward for Washington state,” Inslee said. “Time and again, we’ve seen the carnage these weapons allow people to unleash on communities. Time and again, we’ve watched the NRA and politicians defend, normalize, and even celebrate these weapons. But now the time is here when the majority’s will prevails, and we put the lives of our children first.”

Inslee appeared on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes” last night to take several victory laps on abortion, trans rights, and guns, and to invite people to move to Washington. Enjoy the video!

youtu.be

Guest host Ali Velshi, who’s Canadian, had to get his two cents in and make a pitch for people moving to Canada, and honestly that sounds good too, especially to those of us watching from godforsaken Idaho.

[Erin in the Morning / Washington HB 1469 / Idaho Reports / Seattle Times / Jay Inslee on Substack / KIRO-TV]

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How safe is the abortion pill compared with other common drugs | CNN



CNN
 — 

A federal judge in Texas ruled on Friday to suspend the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, the first drug in the medication abortion process, nationwide by the end of this week.

The judge sided with the coalition of anti-abortion national medical associations that filed the lawsuit. He argued that the FDA failed to adequately consider risks associated with the drug, including “the intense psychological trauma and post-traumatic stress women often experience from chemical abortion.”

However, data analyzed by CNN shows mifepristone is even safer than some common, low-risk prescription drugs, including penicillin and Viagra. There were five deaths associated with mifepristone use for every 1 million people in the US who have used the drug since its approval in 2000, according to the US Food and Drug Administration as of last summer. That’s a death rate of 0.0005%.

Comparatively, the risk of death by penicillin — a common antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections like pneumonia — is four times greater than it is for mifepristone, according to a study on life-threatening allergic reactions. Risk of death by taking Viagra — used to treat erectile dysfunction — is nearly 10 times greater, according to a study cited in the amicus brief filed by the FDA.

“[Mifepristone] has been used for over 20 years by over five million people with the capacity to become pregnant,” said Ushma Upadhyay, an associate professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at the University of California, San Francisco. “Its safety is very well established.”

The Justice Department, the FDA, and Danco — a manufacturer of mifepristone that intervened in the case — have already appealed the ruling.

Within hours of the decision in Texas, a federal judge in Washington state issued a conflicting ruling that the federal government must keep mifepristone available in the 17 Democrat-led states and the District of Columbia that had sued in a separate lawsuit.

If the Texas ruling is allowed to take effect this week, 40 million more women of reproductive age would lose access to medication abortion care around the country, according to data from abortion rights advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America. That’s in addition to the 24.5 million women of reproductive age living in states with abortion bans.

“The court’s disregard for well-established scientific facts in favor of speculative allegations and ideological assertions will cause harm to our patients and undermines the health of the nation,” said Dr. Jack Resneck, Jr., president of the American Medical Association, in a statement. “By rejecting medical facts, the court has intruded into the exam room and has intervened in decisions that belong to patients and physicians.”

Medication abortion has become the most common method for abortion, accounting for more than half of all US abortions in 2020, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

The growing popularity of medication abortion is largely because of its accessibility, said Abigail Aiken, associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin who leads a research group on medication abortion.

“It reduces the cost, it reduces barriers where people may not want to go to a clinic,” she said.

It is also a safer option than both procedural abortion or childbirth. The rate of major complications — like hemorrhages or infections — for medication abortions is about one-third of a percent, according to a 2015 study conducted by Upadhyay. That means out of more than 11,000 cases, 35 experienced any major complications.

The likelihood of serious complications via procedural abortion — performed second-trimester or later — is slightly higher than medication abortion at 0.41%, according to the same study. And childbirth by far comes with the highest risk, at 1.3%.

If access to mifepristone is cut off, abortion clinics and telehealth organizations could pivot to misoprostol-only abortions, Aiken told CNN. Although misoprostol-only abortions are used around the world, they are less effective, associated with a higher risk of serious complications and often more painful than the mifepristone and misoprostol combination, she said.

In the latest study of self-managed misoprostol-only medication abortions in the US, Johnson found misoprostol-only abortions to be a safe alternative, though less safe than using both pills. The study, published in February, analyzed data from online telehealth medication abortion provider Aid Access from 2020. Nearly 90% of 568 users reported completed abortions and 2% experienced serious complications using only misoprostol.

Mifepristone and misoprostol together is still considered the gold standard, Aiken told CNN. People who used the two-pill combination were less likely to experience serious complications than those who went with the misoprostol-only regimen.

“It’s clear people can use these medications, mifepristone and misoprostol, at home even without the help of a medical professional very safely,” said Aiken.

Because misoprostol is used to treat multiple ailments including stomach ulcers, it’s readily stocked in pharmacies and unlikely to be taken off the market anytime soon, Johnson told CNN.

However, a lesser-effective method means more people will likely have unsuccessful abortions.

“It’s possible that it might not work for some people, and it will prolong their abortions,” said Upadhyay. “Then by the time they get back to the clinic, they’re seeking abortion later in pregnancy.”

Before the ruling, 19 states already restricted telehealth abortion care, limiting access to medication abortion. Nearly half of US adults were unsure whether medication abortion was currently legal in their state as of late-January, according to a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Experts say that confusion will only be exacerbated.

“People are not going to be sure mifepristone or misoprostol in fact, is available. I think it’s going to be confusing,” said Aiken. “As people look around for options or feel unsure about their options, they may end up delaying [care].”

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A childbirth myth is spreading on TikTok. Doctors say the truth is different | CNN



CNN
 — 

Ashley Martinez has four sons and is pregnant with the daughter she’s wanted for years.

Last month, she posted a video online imploring doctors to prioritize her life, not the life of her unborn baby, if complications arise when she is in labor and it comes down to that choice.

The San Antonio, Texas, resident is due in May and is one of a number of pregnant people who have recently posted “living will” videos on TikTok.

Martinez had an emergency C-section during her last pregnancy after her umbilical cord came out before her baby, a rare but dangerous condition known as an umbilical cord prolapse that can deprive a baby of vital blood flow and oxygen.

Martinez described her last delivery as terrifying. Eight months after the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, ending a constitutional right to abortion, she said she worries about what would happen if she faced similar challenges again.

Since the ruling in June, a number of US states have criminalized abortions, leading to some fears that doctors would prioritize the life of the unborn child during a medical emergency.

Martinez lost her mother to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at a young age, and the thought of her children going through a similar tragedy terrifies her.

“Having to go into another delivery where I’m going to have a C-section, it’s scary for me,” said the 29-year-old. “My fourth pregnancy was my only C-section. I’ve always thought about not being here for my kids just because of what I went through growing up without my mom.”

More than a dozen US states have banned or severely restricted access to abortions following the Supreme Court’s decision eight months ago. The abortion bans have led to legal chaos as advocates take the fight to courtrooms.

Even so, several ob/gyns told CNN that a hard choice between saving a mother and baby’s lives at childbirth, like the one outlined in the TikTok videos, is highly unlikely.

This trend on TikTok has sparked a flurry of dueling videos among pregnant women and other people. Some have posted videos telling doctors in such situations to prioritize their unborn babies first, and criticizing those who expressed a different view.

Martinez concedes that her mother, who died at 25, would likely have chosen to save her child first if she could.

“My mother, she didn’t have a choice, you know?” Martinez said. “The message that I want to send is just basically nobody is wrong or right in this situation. In both situations, it is a hard decision to pick your children over your unborn baby.”

In Texas, where Martinez lives, abortions are banned at all stages of pregnancy – unless there’s a life-threatening medical emergency.

Dr. Franziska Haydanek, an ob/gyn in Rochester, New York, who shares medical advice on TikTok, said she’s noticed many “living will” videos in recent months.

In most of the videos, a woman appears alongside a written message saying something like, “If there are complications during childbirth, save me before the baby.” Some people, including Martinez, reference their children in their decision and even show them in the video.

One was posted by Tuscany Gunter, 22, a woman whose baby is due in April. Abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy is illegal in her home state of North Carolina, and Gunter told CNN she filmed her message in solidarity with others who said they would choose themselves first.

“I wanted to make it known where I stand and to stand up with other women who are getting bashed online for saying they would rather be saved first over their baby,” said Gunter, who lives in Fayetteville.

“As a mother to three young children, I cannot dump the emotional trauma of losing their mother on them as children and expect them to cope. While I would be crushed to lose a baby, I need to think of my other living children as well … And I know the baby that passed would be safe without ever having to experience any pain or sadness.”

Another woman, Leslie Tovar of Portland, Oregon, said that even though her state has no legal restrictions on abortion, she posted her video because she feared doctors would prioritize saving her unborn child to avoid legal ramifications in the post-Roe v. Wade era.

“I have two other kids at home who need mom. I can’t bear the thought of my two young boys ages 6 and 4 without their mom,” she said.

All three women said they’ve had these conversations with their partners, who agreed they should be saved first.

Of her husband, Tovar said, “His exact words were, ‘We could always have another baby later in life but there is never replacing the mother of my boys, I couldn’t do this without you.’”

It’s true that complications occasionally come up during a pregnancy that lead doctors to recommend delivery to save the mother’s life, medical experts said.

If this is done before a fetus is viable – under 24 weeks – the chances of the baby’s survival are low, said Dr. Elizabeth Langen, a maternal-fetal medicine physician at the University of Michigan Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital.

Roe v. Wade’s reversal did make terminating such pregnancies more complicated, Langen and Haydanek say.

In cases involving a baby that’s not viable, it could mean that even when the baby is unlikely to survive and the mom’s health is at risk, the priority will be on saving the baby due to fear of legal ramifications, Langen said.

But both doctors say these scenarios don’t occur during the birth of a viable baby. In that instance, Roe v. Wade is “less involved,” Haydanek said.

“We do everything in our efforts to save both (mother and baby),” she said. “I can’t think of a time where the medical team has had to make a decision about who to save in a viable laboring patient. It’s just not a real scenario in modern medicine – just one we are seeing played out on TV.”

Hospitals have enough resources – obstetrics and neonatal intensive care unit teams, for example – to meet the needs of both the mother and the baby, Haydanek and Langen said.

“We’re usually doing our best to take care of both the mom and the baby. And there’s very rarely a circumstance where we will do something to harm the mom in order to have the benefit of the baby,” added Langen.

“If mom’s health is deteriorating, ultimately, she’s not going to be able to support baby’s wellbeing,” Langen said. “And so generally, what we encourage folks to do is really support mom’s health, because that’s in the best interest of both mother and baby.”

Abortion rights demonstrators hold signs outside the US Supreme Court in Washington after the court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022.

Both doctors said it’s important for patients to talk to their health care providers about their medical concerns and share their “living will” wishes with loved ones in case there are complications during labor that require partners to make medical decisions.

However, those decisions will not involve doctors asking your partner whose life should come first, they said.

“Before getting in a fight with your partner about who they choose to save, know that there isn’t a situation where we will ask them that,” said Haydanek, who has called the TikTok trend “horribly anxiety inducing.”

She said it’s come up so many times in recent months that she made her own TikTok video to reassure expectant parents.

“Please don’t feel like you have to make this choice,” she says in the video. “I know firsthand how much anxiety there can be in pregnancy … but it’s just not a situation that you’re gonna find yourself in.”

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