Sen. Warren Opens Investigation Into State-Imposed Abortion Restrictions & Impacts on Women’s Access To Health Care

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In full transparency, the following is a media release from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s office. She was elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. She is a Democrat. (screenshot of Warren from a hearing in 2021)

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WASHINGTON DC – In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) opened an investigation into how state abortion bans enacted by rightwing legislators have affected women’s access to urgent and critical pregnancy care, reproductive care, and even non-reproductive health care.

Senator Warren’s investigation comes on the heels of reports from across the country highlighting shocking stories from women in states that have enacted radical abortion bans and criminalized health care.

Senator Warren wrote to five leading organizations representing physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care providers to gather more information: the American Medical Association, Physicians for Reproductive Health, National Nurses United, the American Pharmacists Association, and the American Hospital Association.

“These initial reports are a harbinger of the threats faced by millions of women under state-imposed abortion bans and by their providers who took an oath to ‘do no harm.’ And as more states restrict abortion access, they will only multiply,” wrote Senator Warren. 

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe, rightwing legislatures across the country have enacted highly restrictive abortion bans: at least ten states have banned abortion outright, four states have prohibited abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, three states will outlaw abortion in a matter of weeks, and five states have abortion bans in place that are only temporarily blocked by judges. Despite over 75% of Americans opposing such radical restrictions, virtually none of these bans have exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

In the letters, Senator Warren highlights horrifying accounts from Wisconsin, Texas, Missouri, and Ohio that show how the effects of abortion restrictions have extended far beyond abortion care – women have been unable to receive critical pregnancy care, reproductive care, and even non-reproductive health care: 

  • In Wisconsin, a woman “bled for more than ten days from an incomplete miscarriage after emergency room staff would not remove the fetal tissue.” Hospital staff feared the consequences of violating state laws “amid a confusing legal landscape” set off by the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. 
  • In Texas, a woman was denied medical care for days after her water broke in the 18th week of her pregnancy, despite vomiting, passing clots of blood and yellow discharge, and exhibiting signs of infection. The chance of survival for her fetus was “as close to zero as you’ll ever get in medicine.” But because there was still a fetal heartbeat and Texas’s abortion ban offers no definition for its “medical emergency” exception, the hospital ethics committee did not approve treatment until her discharge was “foul” and “(e)nough to make her retch.” 
  • In Missouri, one of the largest hospital systems in St. Louis stopped providing emergency contraception such as Plan B because of ambiguities in the state’s abortion ban, one that has no exceptions for rape or incest. The hospital system was only able to reverse course when the state’s attorney general issued guidance stating that contraception was not covered by the abortion ban. 
  • In Ohio, a clinic received calls from two women with ectopic pregnancies who said that their doctors would not treat them. Ectopic pregnancies, which occur in one out of every 50 pregnancies, definitionally cannot be carried to term and can quickly become life-threatening emergencies. 
  • Methotrexate—a drug used by patients suffering from certain cancers and auto-immune diseases—has become less accessible to women because it can be used to induce abortions. Reports indicate that “some doctors have already stopped prescribing methotrexate rather than risk falling afoul of antiabortion laws.” In one instance, a pharmacist in Texas refused to dispense methotrexate to an eight-year-old girl because “(f)emales of possible child bearing potential have to have (a) diagnosis on hard copy with state abortion laws.” 

Senator Warren is asking each health care organization to assist in her investigation to better understand the effects of radical abortion bans on health care access, including pregnancy care (such as care for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies), reproductive care (such as emergency contraception and fertility services), and any other form of health care. She is requesting that each organization respond to her questions about the effects of abortion bans on patients and providers, the guidance provided by these organizations about state-imposed abortion bans, and how the federal government can respond to these bans by September 9, 2022. 

editor

email: editor@FraminghamSource.com call or text at 508-315-7176


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