Medical care after miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy is not abortion. Stop saying it is

Cynthia M. Allen

By Cynthia M. Allen Fort Worth Star-Telegram/(TNS)

Published July 12, 2022

Medical care after miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy is not abortion. Stop saying it is
In the days since the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision nullified Roe v. Wade, returning the regulation of abortion back to the states, there has been a campaign of misinformation about what constitutes an abortion.

Celebrities and pundits who support abortion on demand are the biggest culprits, using their substantial platforms to scare women into believing that treatment for ectopic pregnancies and medical care after a miscarriage would be banned under a post-Roe regime.

On June 27, actress Halle Berry tweeted: "The treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is abortion. ... The treatment for a miscarriage that your body won't release is abortion. If you can't get those abortions, you die."

The tweet, which is so dishonest it would make Pinocchio blush, got more than 390,000 likes.

A few days later, a roundup of celebrity "abortion stories" in the Hollywood Reporter included two accounts by actors that falsely describe medical care they received after miscarriage as abortion.

"Roe v. Wade protected my rights are a woman to have miscarriages without scrutiny," wrote actress Hilarie Burton on her Instagram account.

"Your miscarriage will make you a murder suspect," she continued.

Burton's post earned almost 85,000 likes.

What Berry and Burton describe — ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage — is tragic.

Speaking from my own experience, I know that losing a child at any stage of development is deeply painful. And miscarriages, are shockingly common — estimated to prematurely end 10 to 20% of known pregnancies, shockingly common.

But miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies are also completely natural events that sometimes require medical attention.

In both cases, the embryo or fetus has died or will die, as will the mother in some more dire circumstances, unless she receives medical care.

That is not the moral, medical or legal equivalent of abortion as we have come to know it.

There is no ethical correlation between a woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy she doesn't want and one who requires emergency care in the aftermath of losing one naturally.

Pro-life doctors, who do not perform abortions, readily provide treatment and lifesaving care to women who have suffered pregnancy loss and ectopic pregnancy.

And even states that restrict (or intend to restrict) elective abortions make allowances where the life of the mother is at risk. In Texas law, "abortion" is specifically defined to exclude ectopic pregnancy and removal of a fetus that died naturally.

It's hard to take seriously the efforts to conflate abortion and miscarriage care, but with many Americans still uncertain about what the Dobbs decision actually does, it isn't surprising that vocal abortion supporters would seek to sow more confusion.

To wit, a Harvard-Harris poll conducted after the court's ruling found that 72% of respondents said that they supported abortion up until 15 weeks — the exact law at stake in Dobbs — while 49% went only to six weeks.

Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

As writer Charles C.W. Cooke explains, "Both of these views were incompatible with Roe, which means that, whether they knew it or not, many Americans said they supported Roe while opposing what Roe actually did."

And a disturbing number of cultural elites are still misinformed about the state of abortion in the world. In much of Western Europe, abortion is restricted to the first trimester, a shorter period than the 15-week ban in Mississippi that led to the Dobbs case.

If abortion supporters are genuinely worried about the future of ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage care, now would be the time to ensure that lawmakers in all 50 states understand the difference between those treatments and elective abortion.

If nuances need to be addressed to protect women who have experienced pregnancy loss, they have ample opportunity to minimize confusion and enshrine protections into future laws.

But if abortion supporters continue to spread these false narratives, it will be obvious that protecting abortion — not women — is their primary goal.


Cynthia M. Allen
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Cynthia M. Allen is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.