Analysis

Dangerous lies on social media put women at risk after overturn of Roe v. Wade

The photo of a frowning, crying woman in Reno, Nevada, holding up a cardboard box bearing the handwritten words, “I miscarried last week and hesitated to seek care. F*ck you, SCOTUS” has received about 100,000 responses since Trouble_trout posted the image to Reddit on June 25, 2022.

The image is powerfully sincere and quite sad, though problematic, given the obvious timeline problems with the release of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs case only the previous day and the poster’s self-described delay in treatment. The comments under the photo are nearly unanimous in their outrage and support for the woman who, in an edited post, clarified that her miscarriage and lack of treatment happened before the Dobbs ruling.

The woman stated, “Yes, my miscarriage happened BEFORE [R]oe v [W]ade was overturned, BUT with the info leak, it’s been on EVERYONE’S mind. I was no exception. . . With my state being purple, I thought for sure we’d have a trigger ban or restriction. I was relieved to find out I was wrong. This doesn’t change my experience of fear and concern.”

Despite this clarification, this is a prime example of misinformation being spread about the Dobbs ruling, largely as it relates to ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages, and other life-threatening conditions during pregnancy. 

Twitter is another platform that attracts misinformation. Reporter Wajahat Ali tweeted facetiously on behalf of all “Women in America” on Friday: “Do I abort this ectopic pregnancy to literally save my life or do I go to jail?”

But in reality, state laws restricting the killing of children in the womb are specific — and they exclude miscarriage, removal of ectopic pregnancy, and other life-sustaining medical treatments from the category of “abortion.” Read more about that here.

READ: Why miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and early delivery are not abortions

Many organizations, including the Charlotte Lozier Institute and Live Action, have also clarified the common-sense distinctions between abortions that may be restricted by law versus procedures used to save women’s lives. Most recently, Dr. Christina Francis of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) posted a video on Facebook Reels, alerting women to the truth: that no woman should hesitate to receive care for a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or related condition out of fear over the fall of Roe v. Wade

In her video Dr. Francis states that “treating ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages or other life threatening conditions in pregnancy is not the same thing as an abortion.” She continues that it is “because the only intent of an abortion is to produce a dead baby.”

Researcher Daniel Gump has created a legal analysis of state laws regarding the treatment of ectopic pregnancies and criminal abortion laws.

According to his research, “There have been so many claims over the past few years that US states have or will criminalize ectopic pregnancy treatment or post-miscarriage treatment. Though the claims have no bearing on the truth (as neither treatment is an induced abortion), some legislation or medical billing codes have been written with confusing or dubious language.” In fact, he further explains, “Physicians do not consider treatment for ectopic pregnancies to be induced abortions. However, those outside of the medical industry often conflate the two, so many state legislatures have enacted statutes to clarify that criminal abortion laws exclude such treatment.”

AAPLOG provides further analysis on its website. With regard to ectopic pregnancy and similarly for a natural miscarriage, the physicians’ group writes:

There is no chance for survival of the child, either inside or outside the womb, but there is a very real, imminent danger of death or disability for the mother.  In these cases delivery is effected to preserve the life of the mother. Regrettably, in each of these clinical situations the child cannot be saved. In either case, the intent for the pro-life physician is not to kill the unborn child, but to preserve the life of the mother in a situation where the life of the child cannot be saved by current medical technology.

For these reasons the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians recognizes the unavoidable loss of human life that occurs in an ectopic pregnancy, but does not consider treatment of ectopic pregnancy by standard surgical or medical procedures to be the moral equivalent of elective abortion, or to be the wrongful taking of human life.

The misinformation campaign as it relates to Dobbs, miscarriages, and ectopic pregnancies would be just an unfortunate political stunt if real women weren’t being misled and possibly harmed.

Tattooed on Trouble_trout’s arm in the photo is “Someone loves you” — and the fact is, people who love you will tell you the truth. As Live Action founder and president Lila Rose has stated, “Women deserve honest and accurate information from new sources about miscarriages and what the laws against abortion actually restrict. We admonish news sources and even social-media sites that encourage fear-mongering and refuse to disrupt misinformation that can easily discourage women from seeking the care they need.”

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