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Abortion and Pregnancy from a Health Perspective

Suzanne B. Robotti
Suzanne B. Robotti Executive Director

As an independent health-driven nonprofit, MedShadow’s mission is to ensure that all people have information on the risks and benefits of medicines and treatments, so they can make the best health care choices for themselves and their families. Separate from any personal, political or religious beliefs, the ruling from the Supreme Court on June 24, 2022 overturning Roe v. Wade has far-reaching health implications.  

MedShadow considers pregnancy and abortion solely from the perspective of health care. Pregnancy is not a benign process. It changes every system in the body from circulatory (the amount of blood in your body increases by 45%) to digestive (constipation is a common side effect). It changes the pace at which your body absorbs nutrients and medicines. It causes a dramatic weight gain and subsequent loss of 30 or more pounds within a year. Hormones are strongly affected: estrogen surges during the first trimester of pregnancy, progesterone increases and stays high throughout. Estrogen and progesterone both drop dramatically at birth; oxytocin increases at birth for a day or two; and prolactin escalates to allow the body to produce breast milk.  

Those undergoing pregnancy and birth need and deserve prenatal and postnatal medical care, along with the time to go to medical appointments and access to high-quality nutrition. These resources are not available to many women in our country. 

Radical Change in an Instant

A Supreme Court ruling immediately becomes the law. In an instant on June 24, women and men in 11 states lost their health care option to seek an abortion for themselves and partners. Subsequent state-law changes are expected to severely restrict access to abortion in 15 more states, making abortion difficult or impossible to obtain in more than half of America. 

This set of changes will especially affect women who have limited ability to relocate, travel or take time away from home and work to have an abortion. Once again, the heaviest burden will be on poor, marginalized, and women of color. Black women are three times more likely to die in pregnancy than white women in America.

Woman and Puzzle Pieces

Many women will continue to seek abortions in states which have made abortions illegal, because the underlying causes for them have not been addressed. The reasons could be societal: the financial inability to care for (another) child; a lack of a mate or family and emotional support to aid in raising a child; a pregnancy conceived in violence. In such a case, having the child may threaten the mother’s mental well-being as well as the child’s. 

Reluctance to remain pregnant could be based on health concerns: they might be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy or carrying a fetus that is severely compromised; their own medical conditions might put them at even higher than normal risk for complications and mortality; they may need to continue taking medicines that are not proven safe for a fetus. 

Medical Solutions to Pregnancy

Some observers claim that the Supreme Court ruling will cause America to go back to the bad old days when women were forced into self-mutilation to end a pregnancy. Fortunately, there are much safer alternatives today. Medical solutions are widely available. The so-called “abortion pill” is a combination of two pills, mifespristone and misoprostol, taken hours apart. Then there’s the “morning-after pill.” After unprotected sex or potentiallly ineffective birth control, there are two such medical solutions on the market. One is the over-the-counter levonorgestrel, which goes by the trade names Plan B, One Step, Take Action, My Way, Option 2, Preventeza, AfterPill, My Choice, Aftera, EContra and many others, which are available by mail and at stores. Another “morning-after pill,” called Ella (ulipristal acetate), requires a prescription. Women need to see a doctor after taking either of these treatments to ensure that the process is safely completed. Health care cannot stop. 

Although game-changers, none of these solutions are magic pills, and they must be taken according to a schedule to be effective. As in many such situations when the stakes are high, there is room for fraud: there are those who will sell cheap or fake versions that may not be safe. 

There will be women who will not be able to afford medicines or may not have the knowledge to seek them out. They might turn to taking herbs, falling down stairs and other self-harm efforts to induce a miscarriage. 

Fear and Uncertainty

There may be damage to the relationship between patient and doctor. Will some states require doctors to question if a miscarriage was induced or came on naturally? Will the law stifle a doctor’s ability to give full and honest health advice to their patients? Where will a woman access the full knowledge of the risks of continuing a pregnancy, the risks of ending one? Will women avoid needed medical care out of fear of criminal charges? If a woman arrives in the emergency room with signs of a miscarriage, will doctors, fearing prosecution, fail to give her the care she needs? Will doctors be required to report suspected cases of self-managed abortions? 

Woman walking in the dark

No one can answer these questions today, but MedShadow will continue to ask them and to give you the information you need on the risks and benefits of medicines and their alternatives. Last week, we published an article on the side effects of the abortion pill. A few days later, we published an article on the morning-after pill. We will update our existing contraceptive articles. And we will continue to report on what little is known about which meds are safe in pregnancy and which are not. 

Your health is our mission. We remain committed to publish articles that bring you the facts and address the health issues you face every day – – unbiased and unbought by any pharmaceutical or political funding or influence. Thank you for your trust.

The article may or may not reflect the views of the editorial staff of MedShadow, the MedShadow Medical Advisory Board or the MedShadow Foundation Board. 

DISCLAIMER: MedShadow provides information and resources related to medications, their effects, and potential side effects. However, it is important to note that we are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The content on our site is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Individuals dealing with medical conditions or symptoms should seek guidance from a licensed healthcare professional, such as a physician or pharmacist, who can provide personalized medical advice tailored to their specific circumstances.

While we strive to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information presented on MedShadow, we cannot guarantee its completeness or suitability for any particular individual's medical needs. Therefore, we strongly encourage users to consult with qualified healthcare professionals regarding any health-related concerns or decisions. By accessing and using MedShadow, you acknowledge and agree that the information provided on the site is not a substitute for professional medical advice and that you should always consult with a qualified healthcare provider for any medical concerns.

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Bubba

Ok, so what you are telling me is that you think it is ok to engage in unprotected sex, which is known to often result in conceiving a child. Should this child happen to be unfortunate enough to be in the womb of a mother that doesn’t want it, you think it is ok to just murder it. What an extremely selfish way to go about things. If you don’t want a baby simply abstain from sexual activity. No body gets hurt and nobody dies. In my opinion murder of another humans being is not something that should be a right.

Jim M

Suzanne its so complicated. I’m a man and i know the difference between kiling and murdering .To go to war and kill my fellow man is one thing when me or my society is threatened. When a woman is pregnant through adverse situations or dangerous outcomes thank goodness for a pill to take care of that situation. When it comes to physically destroying the fetus then it becomes complicated because most people don’t like that thought. But for justifiable reasons its understandable. Where our problems start is when we just don’t like to have to go through difficult times like a pregnancy (been there), so justification of aborting is the answer and consequently “carte blanche” killing of the unborn child.It’s just another sign of our selfish times. For me I hate the sin and not the sinner. There are other options and as I have heard happy outcomes

Camilla

The people who want to end all abortions are usually the ones who haven’t lived a life of true hardship or try to understand not everyone has the same belief system. To me taking away the choice of abortion is to punish women. Who keeps trying to push this law? In my view, mostly men. Whether you are a man or woman, telling a woman you don’t know they have to deliver a baby, no matter what is the cause of the pregnancy, is cruel. Some women are abused or ostracized by family or friends when they become pregnant without a good reason, in their minds. Going through a pregnancy is life-changing. Your body and mental health are affected. Humans are flawed. They say don’t have sex if you don’t want to get pregnant. But since before the Bible, men force or coerce women and girls into sex. A man can have sex and no one will ever know or put pressure to change their lifestyle. He may be applauded and revered for his prowess. His life will likely be unaffected. Look at Weinstein or Epstein for example. It took a massive amount of attention and breaking laws before something stopped them. There are other reasons why a woman would want an abortion. I don’t know every woman’s story. I’m sure some regret their choice and others don’t. My biggest fear is abortions will continue but in dangerous ways. An unethical medical person will do them but not provide aftercare if something goes wrong. A woman will try folk or archaic methods and hurt herself. A sleazy man or woman will require payment first but then doesn’t do the abortion safely or does it painfully that the woman is scarred physically and mentally, then moves on to hurt more women. All the effort, energy, and resources people have done to stop abortion to save a baby’s life sounds admirable. But I wish people could first work to help those living now to have better futures, then maybe people won’t want to have an abortion in the future. Direct energies to ending sex trafficking, prostitution, child molesting, rape, sexual harassment, and child pornography. When women are respected and treated as equals, not as sex objects and the lesser gender, then maybe abortions won’t be an issue hotly debated in our country.

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