Analysis

Pro-abortion doctors use tragic case of medical negligence to promote abortion

maternity home, pregnant, incompetent cervix

People Magazine has reported that a woman in Texas nearly died because state law didn’t allow her to have an abortion when she was diagnosed with an incompetent (or insufficient) cervix. The devastating news came as a shock when she was 18 weeks pregnant. However, induced abortion is not the treatment for an incompetent cervix, and it never has been.

It appears, instead, that the woman’s doctors may have acted with negligence — and now the death of this woman’s daughter is being exploited in order to promote legalized abortion.

Amanda Zurawski told People that she had “what felt like water running down my leg” but “fully expected [doctors] to send me home and all would be fine.” However, after a “shockingly brief examination,” doctors explained that she was dilating prematurely due to an incompetent cervix, the amniotic sac was “bulging,” and she was told a miscarriage was inevitable. Zurawski was understandably heartbroken.

Incompetent cervix and treatment

An incompetent cervix causes up to 25% of miscarriages in the second trimester, and though there are treatments, those treatments aren’t always successful, especially if labor has already begun. However, induced abortion — the intentional killing of the baby — is not one of those treatments.

 

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Dr. Christina Francis, board member and CEO-elect of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists explained to Live Action News:

As an OB/GYN, I have taken care of many women with cervical insufficiency. It can be a heartbreaking situation and my heart goes out to this couple. While many details about this particular patient’s clinical situation are missing, elective abortion is not a treatment for cervical insufficiency.

Many times, if infection is ruled out, women can be treated with a stitch, called a cerclage, which is placed in her cervix to hold the unborn baby in until he or she can survive outside the mother. An attentive physician should be able to detect signs of infection early and, if present, provide the appropriate treatment –  which would be induction of labor. This treatment is not prevented by any abortion restriction in the country. 

Spreading false information not only serves to unnecessarily scare women and their families, it has a detrimental effect on their health as well.

A 21-year-old study on the emergency operative closure of the cervix (EOCC) — a cerclage — in cases of incompetent cervix when the amniotic sac is prolapsing found that, “If antibiotic and tocolytic treatment was successful in stopping local infection and contractions, EOCC is an acceptable and mostly successful procedure to prolong pregnancy.”

Doctors failed Zurawski

Based on Zurawski’s own telling of the story, her doctors appear to have failed to offer her the standard and proper treatments as described above, and if so, could be guilty of medical neglect.

“We asked all of our doctors and our nurses, isn’t there something you can do, and they said no,” Zurawski explained in a pro-abortion video she participated in. “I couldn’t make the decision for myself, we couldn’t make the decision for our daughter, our doctors couldn’t make the decision. They were just as furious as we were because their hands were tied. Had they acted, they would have been charged with a felony.” (emphasis added)

This is untrue. When doctors finally did act, after Zurawski was already suffering a dangerous sepsis infection, the procedure they carried out was a “premature delivery” for a child who was too young to survive, not an abortion. That said, induced abortion is legal in Texas in cases of a life-threatening medical emergency.

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After her initial diagnosis, doctors sent Zurawski home without any treatment whatsoever, based on her own account, and three days later she was in the ICU with sepsis. Neither People Magazine nor Zurawski mention a word about prophylactic antibiotics or testing to see if Zurawski had an infection before the doctors sent her home. There is also no mention that they monitored her for infection as they should have. It appears they instead made the negligent and dangerous decision to send her home to wait it out.

“It took three days at home until I became sick ‘enough’ that the ethics board at our hospital agreed we could begin medical treatment; three days until my life was considered at risk ‘enough’ for the inevitable premature delivery of my daughter to be performed; three days until the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals were allowed to do their jobs,” she wrote in an essay for The Meteor. (emphasis added)

A premature delivery — even when induced — is not an abortion if the intent is not to kill the child but to save the mother’s life. An induced abortion — which is the procedure that is currently restricted in Texas and elsewhere due to the fall of Roe v. Wade — is an act that intentionally causes the death of the preborn child. The purpose of an induced abortion is to ensure the baby is dead. Her baby’s death was never Zurawski’s intention.

As AAPLOG has noted, “There is a night and day difference between induced abortion and separating a mother and her unborn child for the purposes of saving a mother’s life (preterm parturition). There are times when separating the mother and her unborn child is necessary to save the life of the mother, even if the unborn child is too premature to live. In those tragic cases, if possible the life of the baby will be attempted to be preserved, and if not possible, the body of the unborn child is treated with respect, recognizing the humanity of the life which is lost in the separation. In contrast, the purpose of an induced abortion is to produce a dead baby.”

Medical neglect

Zurawski stated, “Everything that happened after my cervix dilated was avoidable, and it never should have happened. What’s worse is I’m not the only one. This will happen to many women — of all races, all ethnicities, all ages, all across the country — if we don’t fight back.” And she’s right. Pro-abortion doctors across the nation appear to be putting the lives of their patients in jeopardy in order to make a political statement. Her doctors failed to properly treat her and to properly understand the law on which they are basing their medical decisions.

American Baby & Child Law Centers (Reiter & Walsh, PC) explain how doctors could be guilty of negligence in cases of incompetent cervix. “It is crucial for medical professionals to diagnose an incompetent cervix in a timely fashion and treat it appropriately,” the attorneys note on their website. “If there are any risk factors or signs of cervical incompetence, the physician should take all necessary steps to treat the incompetence and prevent premature birth. It is negligence when physicians fail to properly monitor and test a pregnant woman and treat her incompetent cervix.  When this negligence results in death or injury to the baby, it is medical malpractice.”

This law office handled the case of a woman who experienced preterm labor at 21 weeks due to an incompetent cervix. She received an emergency cerclage and was placed on prophylactic antibiotics. At 24 weeks, she suffered an infection that doctors failed to properly diagnose and six days later she underwent an emergency C-section at 25 1/2 weeks because of the failure of her doctors. Attorneys were successful in arguing that if the infection had been properly diagnosed and treated, her baby could have been delivered as late as 28 weeks, preventing the injuries that the baby suffered including cognitive deficits and mild cerebral palsy. The attorneys secured a $1.3 million settlement for the parents.

Zurawski’s doctors, according to the information she has shared, did not offer her prophylactic antibiotics and did not monitor her for infection. They should have kept her in the hospital instead of sending her home.

Yet, instead of suing her doctors, Zurawski is sharing her story as part of a video series in which three pro-abortion OB/GYNs travel the country to spread misinformation about pro-life laws and put more women and children at risk in the name of political gain.

Abortion as a cause of incompetent cervix

Abortion is not a treatment for incompetent cervix. Rather, it can actually be the cause of an incompetent cervix in future pregnancies. Research has found “the internal cervical [os] of women who have undergone consecutive induced abortions to be wider than that of women with full-time pregnancies. A wide cervical os has been linked to cervical incompetence.”

Further research published in the British Medical Journal revealed “a positive association between surgical termination of pregnancy and subsequent preterm delivery, cervical incompetence treated by cerclage, placental implantation or retention problems and postpartum haemorrhage in a subsequent pregnancy.”

It is incomprehensible that Zurawski’s doctors failed her so greatly that she lost her baby girl and nearly lost her own life. While Zurawski does not say if she was too far dilated for a cerclage, other treatments — such as a progesterone supplement, antibiotics, and close monitoring — could have been attempted to try to prevent both preterm labor and infection. At the very least, doctors should have admitted her for observation instead of sending her home with the amniotic sac bulging out of her cervix.

If labor induction was determined to be necessary, it could have legally been carried out prior to infection and sepsis setting in, even if her baby was too young to survive.

Stories like these do nothing to help women. Instead, they exploit the tragic loss of a child to breed fear and send misinformation circling the nation — misinformation that could turn deadly for women and children.

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