OB/GYN Kristin Lyerly tweeted a claim that miscarriage is the same as abortion. She says doctors who use the word “miscarriage” instead of “abortion” when talking with women who’ve lost a baby are “sheltering” them from the truth.
The reason doctors do this, she says, is because politicians (presumably pro-life) have made the word abortion “unspeakable.”
She wrote, “If you’ve had a miscarriage, you have had an abortion. The medical term for a miscarriage is ‘spontaneous abortion’. Your doctors have likely sheltered you from this terminology, rendered unspeakable by politicians with the intention of shaming and disempowering you.” She then added in a second tweet, “It’s time that call it what it is and recognize that up to 50% of pregnancies end in spontaneous abortions.”
Setting aside Lyerly’s questionable statistic, her Tweet upset and offended many people. Some responded, calling her language “disingenuous,” “semantic games that wound people,” and “gaslighting.”
Many parents who lost a child through miscarriage commented on how hurtful Lyerly’s tweet was:
One medical provider spoke up, explaining why doctors and medical workers don’t use the term “abortion” when caring for a patient who just lost a baby:
Even a pro-abortion person spoke out:
One woman who suffered a miscarriage described how traumatic it was and how the label “abortion” added to her trauma. This woman, her name withheld, got pregnant unexpectedly, but considered it “a happy surprise.” During her first ultrasound, when she was 9 to 10 weeks pregnant, the ultrasound technician couldn’t find a heartbeat.
The doctor told her her baby had died. She says, “[T]he next couple hours were a blur. I went home and didn’t want to talk about it. No one knew about the pregnancy I was grieving. I went on like nothing happened, but on the inside I was sad.”
The doctor said she could wait and see if the baby would pass out of her body naturally, but that waiting could lead to complications. She could have heavy bleeding, or the baby could fail to pass. Under the doctor’s recommendation, she entered the hospital and had a D&C.
A few weeks later, I got the bills from the hospital. [They said ] Spontaneous Abortion! It was hurtful. Like rubbing salt in my wound! I did not choose to end my child’s life! Isn’t that the definition of Abortion!? When you choose to end the life growing inside of you. This was not my choice! I was grieving the loss of my child and they had the audacity to label it as an Abortion!
The woman had used drugs in the past to cope with emotional pain but had been sober for six years. Fortunately, she says, she had the tools and support to prevent her from falling back into her addiction. But she says that if ever there was a time to relapse, this was it.
She further says:
Opening your bill from the hospital after loosing [sic] your child to a miscarriage, labeled as an Abortion and the DNC [sic] procedure and hospital stay cost is the same as if I had given live birth. But I had no baby to show for my medical bills. Only loss and sorrow.
It was a full year of silence before I spoke about my loss. The pain was just too much to know where to begin.
Incidentally, Dr. Kristin Lyerly has a history of malpractice. According to a citation from the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, she botched a delivery in December 2008 by failing to properly monitor a woman in labor and delaying a C-section when the baby was in distress. She was disciplined by the board and accused of “substandard or inadequate care” because she “failed to timely deliver an infant.” The report found:
[The] respondent failed to recognize the concerning risk profile of a pregnant patient, failed to abide by the recommendations of a maternal fetal medicine consultant, failed to act on the infant’s concerning category 2 fetal heart rate tracing over multiple hours and then, failed to urgently respond to a category 3 fetal heart rate tracing.
According to a medical study, Category 2 fetal heart tracings “require closer supervision, more frequent evaluation, documentation and correction of abnormalities by conservative management and intrauterine resuscitation.”
Regarding category three tracings, the study says, “[T]hese tracings have been associated with adverse neurologic abnormalities… When intrauterine resuscitation of these abnormalities fails, delivery should be expedient.”
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, in its guidelines, gives the following instructions for dealing with category 3 fetal heart tracings:
Category III FHR [fetal heart rate] tracings require prompt evaluation. Depending on the clinical situation, efforts to expeditiously resolve the abnormal FHR may include…provision of maternal oxygen, change in maternal position, discontinuation of labor stimulation, treatment of maternal hypotension, and treatment of tachysystole with FHR changes.
The citation against Lyerly from the board also said, “Late decelerations were present on the fetal heart tracing for about 30 minutes before Respondent decided to perform a cesarean section delivery.”
Very Well Health gives information on late decelerations:
[L]ate decelerations (a drop in the fetal heart rate after uterine contractions) are caused by a decrease in the placental blood flow. This results in insufficient oxygen supply to the fetus (uteroplacental insufficiency).
Babies who experience late decelerations and are not delivered promptly can develop cerebral palsy, or a condition called neonatal encephalopathy, which can cause “depressed consciousness, difficulty initiating and maintaining respiration, and often abnormal tone, reflexes and neonatal seizures in varying combinations.”
It is a condition that can lead to death or severe disability.
The report doesn’t say what happened to the infant in this case. We don’t know if the baby died or developed any of these health problems. It is likely there were some adverse effects for the child due to delayed action from Dr. Lyerly.
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