Many Americans have expressed outrage since the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. One of the most common claims is that it would prohibit women from receiving life-saving treatment for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies.
While this decision does change the landscape of abortion in the United States, it will have no impact on medical care for unviable pregnancies. Today, we’re exploring the differences between abortion, miscarriage, and ectopic pregnancy treatment and how you can get the support you need during an unplanned pregnancy!
What is Roe v. Wade?
Roe v. Wade is the U.S. Supreme Court Case that established the constitutional right to abortion. That being said, abortion was not guaranteed as an absolute right. The states could regulate the procedure, but they couldn’t ban the procedure entirely.
The court determined abortion regulations based on trimesters:
- In the first trimester, the abortion decision was “solely at the discretion of the woman”.
- During the second trimester, “the state could regulate (but not outlaw) abortions in the interests of the mother’s health”.
- Beyond the second trimester, “the fetus became viable, and the state could regulate or outlaw abortions in the interest of the potential life except when necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother”.
With Roe v. Wade overturned, the states have the power to allow, restrict, or ban abortion. Some plan to keep abortion legal, while others are putting restrictions in place.
What is Dobbs v. Jackson?
Dobbs v. Jackson is a legal case of the U.S. Supreme Court in which Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a Mississippi abortion clinic, challenged the constitutionality of the state’s Gestational Age Act. The act prohibited abortion past 15 weeks of pregnancy, except in the case of “severe fetal abnormality” and medical emergencies.
Ultimately, it was decided that abortion is not a constitutional right. This led to the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
Does the Dobbs v. Jackson Decision Impact Miscarriage and Ectopic Pregnancy Care?
You’ve likely seen some drastic headlines stating that women experiencing miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies will no longer have access to medical care, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Simply put, abortion is not the proper treatment for miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. Viability is the defining factor. Abortion is only used to terminate viable pregnancies, while miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies are inviable. Because of this, women can still receive the care they need for inviable pregnancies.
How are Abortions Performed?
There are two main abortion procedures. The first is the abortion pill, also known as medication abortion. In this procedure, a pregnant woman takes two different medications to end her pregnancy: mifepristone and misoprostol. Mifepristone is taken first and stops the pregnancy from progressing. Misoprostol is taken 24 to 48 hours later and empties the uterus of the pregnancy tissue.
In a surgical abortion, also known as a Dilation and Curettage (D&C), a physician dilates the cervix and inserts a tube into the uterus. Then, a suction device is used to extract the fetus and pregnancy tissue from the uterus.
Miscarriage Treatment Options
The Mayo Clinic outlines three treatment options for miscarriage. Depending on the severity of your condition, you can choose:
- Expectant management. If you aren’t experiencing signs of infection, you can allow the miscarriage to proceed naturally. Unfortunately, this process can take up to four weeks and can be incredibly draining. If the pregnancy tissue doesn’t pass on its own, you may need medical or surgical treatment.
- Medical treatment. If you’d prefer to complete the miscarriage sooner, your physician may prescribe misoprostol to help the uterus contract and expel the pregnancy tissue. This treatment usually works within 24 hours of taking the medication.
- Surgical treatment. Dilation and Curettage (D&C) can be used in non-emergency and emergency situations. However, it’s necessary for women who are experiencing heavy bleeding and symptoms of infection after their miscarriage.
While misoprostol and Dilation and Curettage are also used in abortion, they aren’t considered abortion when treating miscarriage, because the pregnancy isn’t viable. Even with Texas’ abortion regulations in place, miscarriage treatment remains legal and available to the women of Texas!
Ectopic Pregnancy Diagnosis and Treatment
Ectopic pregnancies are diagnosed by ultrasounds. Specifically, a transvaginal ultrasound will allow the doctor to determine the exact location of the pregnancy. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are two ways that ectopic pregnancy can be treated once diagnosed.
If the ectopic pregnancy is detected early and there is no unstable bleeding, the doctor will prescribe a medication called methotrexate. Once injected, methotrexate stops the pregnancy from growing and dissolves the existing cells. This procedure requires follow-up appointments to monitor HCG levels to ensure the medication was successful.
In more severe cases, ectopic pregnancy can also be treated by laparoscopic surgery. If a rupture hasn’t occurred yet, the woman will undergo a salpingostomy, in which the ectopic pregnancy is removed and the fallopian tube is left to heal. If the fallopian tube has ruptured and been damaged, a salpingectomy will be performed. In this procedure, the fallopian tube and the ectopic pregnancy are removed.
If you’re concerned that you may be experiencing a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, it’s crucial to receive an ultrasound and get the appropriate medical care. Abortion is never needed to treat either condition!
Free Pregnancy Resources in San Antonio, TX
At Resources for Women, our goal remains the same: to put women first and provide the resources needed to make the most informed decision for their unplanned pregnancies. Our center continues to provide:
- Free pregnancy tests
- Free ultrasounds
- Free options counseling
- Free medical and legal referrals
- Free STD testing
Don’t wait to get the care you deserve. Our client advocates are here to help, every step of the way! Give us a call at (210) 651-1611, send a text to (210) 638-8221, or schedule your appointment today!
Library of Congress. (n.d.). Roe v. Wade. Library of Congress. Retrieved from https://tile.loc.gov/storage-services/service/ll/usrep/usrep410/usrep410113/usrep410113.pdf
Cornell Law School. (n.d.). Roe v. Wade (1973). Legal Information Institute. Retrieved from https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/roe_v_wade_(1973)
Supreme Court of the United States. (n.d.). Dobbs v. Jackson. Supreme Court of the United States. Retrieved from https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/19-1392_6j37.pdf
Mississippi Legislature. (n.d.). House Bill No. 1510. Mississippi Legislature. Retrieved from http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/documents/2018/pdf/HB/1500-1599/HB1510SG.pdf
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, October 19). Dilation and curettage (D&C). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/dilation-and-curettage/about/pac-20384910
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, October 16). Miscarriage. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pregnancy-loss-miscarriage/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354304
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, March 12). Ectopic pregnancy. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ectopic-pregnancy/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20372093#