After New York and California become hotbeds for abortions, experts fear criminalizing miscarriages could come next
Will banning abortions actually stop them from happening? Of course not. It will, however, cause a sort of medical migration, where women who can afford to get their unwanted pregnancies terminated, moving to states with more lenient laws.
A large section of the United States of America is on a spree to pass anti-abortion bills. Florida has two fetal heartbeat bills that have been filed in the Florida Legislature in 2019. Georgia has a six-week abortion ban that will be going into effect very soon. There have been two fetal heartbeat bills filed in the Tennessee General Assembly this year and as of January 2019, there were three heartbeat bills filed in the Mississippi Legislature.
So, will a ban on abortions actually stop them from happening? Of course not. It will, however, cause a sort of medical migration, where women who can afford to get their unwanted pregnancies terminated, will move to states with more lenient laws. This would make the states of New York and California the new hotbed of abortions.
"It would be the likely places where women with resources would go if abortion were even more restricted in other states," predicted Cynthia A. Pearson, Executive Director of National Women's Health Network. According to a survey done by the Guttmacher Institute, on the map of America, there are only three states that are supportive (New York, California, and Oregon) out of which one state ranks on the very supportive category, which is California. The rest of the states are either hostile, very hostile or are a middle ground.
According to CDC statistics, a total of 638,169 abortions took place in the United States in 2015 from 49 reporting areas. "Many clinics that provide abortion provide a wide range of other important health care services, such as contraception, infection checks, and cancer screening. If women who need abortion care have to travel to other states, in some cases it might not be economically viable for clinics in the restrictive states to stay open and continuing providing other services," Pearson said, explaining the impact that would be felt in the more liberal states as well. "Clinics that are able to provide abortion care may become crowded and unable to provide the full range of services," she said.
As of 2014, approximately 8,020 abortions were provided in Alabama, the numbers including the residents from the State as well as those who may have traveled there to get their pregnancies terminated and vice versa. As of 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, the numbers had declined to 6,768. While the number of abortions in the country aren't colossal, it still is a common experience.
She also pointed out that if abortion gets banned, restrictive measures on miscarriage will follow soon. "We are warning people that if abortion is banned that miscarriage will also be criminalized. There is no significant physiological difference between an abortion induced with pills and a natural miscarriage. If abortion is banned, and performing abortions becomes a crime, women who need medical treatment for complications of a miscarriage will be investigated for possibly having taken abortion pills," she said.
Pearson further said that when abortion was illegal before Roe v Wade, doctors were prosecuted based on evidence provided by nurses and doctors who suspected that patients with heavy bleeding and uterine infections had undergone an abortion. "Heavy bleeding is common after a natural miscarriage and early abortion induced by pills. Infection isn't common, but can happen in both situations. If abortion is banned, and a woman who is experiencing a natural miscarriage goes to the hospital because of complications, suspicious medical staff could report her to the police for having a suspected abortion. This type of criminal investigation would be most likely to happen to women who are already the most vulnerable — young women, women of color, immigrants and trans folks."
However, after the near-total abortion ban being announced in Alabama women are understandably stressed and hesitant about many other aspects of the bill. Barbara Ann Luttrell, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, has been quoted to have said that 'criminalizing miscarriages' isn't the explicit purpose of the Alabama Abortion ban. Since the law is still to come into effect, it has been causing confusion as to how the judges will interpret the issue of miscarriages.
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