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The doctor is in for Arkansas women: Unfortunately, it’s the malpracticing Arkansas legislature UPDATE

Arkansas News Headlines
Arkansas News Headlines

Governor Hutchinson disputed President Biden’s assertion that women’s health is at risk in states like Arkansas with total abortion bans. The governor is wrong. For one thing, only a life-or-death determination by a brave doctor will allow an abortion, not serious health concerns for mother or fetus. For another, the vague exemption for ectopic pregnancies is vague protection for a doctor fearing one physician’s vital medical procedure could be interpreted by the likes of Jason Rapert or a prosecutorial Javert as “baby murder.”

That point — the chilling effect of abortion bans on sound medical practice and women’s health — is made in a good article in The Advocate, a Louisiana newspaper, where a state law similar, but not quite as bad as Arkansas’s, is under attack in court over its vagueness about medical care.

Remember when Asa claimed IUDs and other forms of contraception are protected? Read on:

In the days following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a Louisiana doctor prescribed a medication called Cytotec to make the insertion of an IUD, the most effective form of birth control, less painful.

The medication has several uses and is often prescribed for stomach ulcers. It’s also the brand name for misoprostol, the second part of a two-drug cocktail used to terminate a pregnancy.

Walgreens called the physician, Dr. Alexandra Weiss Band, to ask if the prescription was for an abortion, according to an affidavit filed July 5 in a New Orleans Civil District Court case challenging Louisiana’s trigger law. When she told them it was for an IUD insertion, the pharmacist refused to give out the medication anyway.

Could this happen in “pro-life” Arkansas? What do you think?

And what about health of women, already assigned to second-class status behind a microscopic embryo in Arkansas law? Consider Louisiana:

Dr. Rebekah Gee, an OB-GYN, former Louisiana secretary of health and CEO of Nest Health, said the trigger laws will have far-reaching effects beyond people seeking elective abortions.

“I’m most concerned about the chilling effect this will have on the routine provision of well-woman care,” said Gee. “People estimate 10 to 30% of pregnancies end in miscarriage; it’s very common. At what point during that miscarriage is it safe to make that call and intervene to protect the life and health of that mother?”

Answer: Under Arkansas law there is NO POINT at which merely the health of the mother may be considered. Arkansas also offers less protection for women with impaired fetuses than Louisiana.

Although the trigger laws allow for saving the life of the mother and in cases in which the fetus or embryo is “medically futile,” the penalties are severe enough that physicians may feel the need to wait to provide treatment until the patient’s life is clearly on the line.

Roll the dice on survival. That’s a helluva way to practice medicine. This following situation described in Louisiana is certain to arise in Arkansas, with a doctor wondering if she dare run afoul of the Raperts.

Dr. Cecilia Gambala, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Tulane University School of Medicine, said Friday she is worried she’ll start seeing more transfers from hospitals who don’t want to treat women whose pregnancies are no longer viable because they are afraid of legal repercussions.

Already, she’s seen a patient who was 16 weeks pregnant with a ruptured membrane sent from a rural hospital in North Louisiana. A ruptured membrane occurs in up to 10% of pregnancies, often causing premature labor.

But at 16 weeks, a fetus cannot survive. A ruptured membrane drains the amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus, meaning the lungs can’t develop. The situation can turn dangerous for the mother, often resulting in life-threatening infection.

The rural hospital wasn’t comfortable performing the typical treatment, which may include surgical abortion. In this situation, the fetus often still has a heartbeat, but is not developed enough to live outside of the womb.

For some physicians, that’s enough to make the call that the mother’s life is in danger and the fetus will not survive, allowing an exception in Louisiana’s ban. But some doctors won’t want to get involved, said Gambala.

Arkansas law does not allow abortion of a fetus that will not survive, only to “remove a dead unborn child caused by spontaneous abortion.”

Your talk about Arkansas law is cheap, Governor Hutchinson. As cheap as the rights of women in this state.

UPDATE: And even if you CAN get treatment in Arkansas for an ectopic pregnancy, will your insurance pay for it?


So many questions. So few answers in “pro-life” Arkansas.

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