“For much of the last six decades,” writes Steven Benen for MSNBC, “even Republicans were cautious about criticizing Griswold for an obvious reason: The American mainstream broadly supports public access to birth control.”
Beyond abortion and birth control
Regardless of where the movement to restrict contraception access goes from here, legislation like the bill being advanced in Louisiana that criminalizes abortion on the basis of fetal personhood could have far-reaching consequences for other reproductive rights and health care. Here are a few examples.
Ectopic pregnancy treatment: The leading cause of maternal mortality in the first trimester, ectopic pregnancies cannot be carried to term; those that do not resolve in miscarriage can be treated only with medication or surgery that terminates the pregnancy. In El Salvador, where abortion is banned, “obstetricians routinely make the patient wait until the fallopian tube explodes and the embryo dies before intervening to save the mother,” wrote Michelle Oberman, a Santa Clara University law school professor, in this newsletter.
Miscarriage care: As Kaitlin Sullivan explains at NBC, abortions and miscarriage treatment often make use of the same procedures and medications. In places with severe abortion restrictions, like Texas, those who miscarry may face limited treatment options and a lower standard of care, as well as increased state scrutiny and criminal prosecution.
In vitro fertilization: Accounting for about 2 percent of all births in the United States, I.V.F. typically entails the fertilization of several eggs to maximize the chance of successful pregnancy; many of the embryos often turn out to be nonviable or superfluous. “Experts in the field now warn that state laws defining fertilization as the moment life begins could throw the procedure into legal jeopardy,” Michael Wilner reports for McClatchy.
Criminalization of “bad mothers”: In his draft opinion, Justice Alito writes that future state laws regulating abortion should be allowed to stand if they can be said to serve “legitimate interests,” which include “respect for and preservation of prenatal life at all stages of development” and “the mitigation of fetal pain.”
Under this logic, Dara E. Purvis, a professor at Penn State’s law school, argues in Slate that states could conceivably justify restrictions on all manner of behaviors during pregnancy, including drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, taking antidepressants or working a physically demanding job.