Ever wonder what all the fuss is about no exceptions for the health of the mother? Dr. Maria Bell, SD gynecologic oncologist, gave a presentation tonight on the ramification of the ban for women with cancer and other dangerous conditions/diseases.
Highlights of her talk:
* Under the ban, a pregnant woman with cancer will not be able to get the full range of medical options available to treat her cancer. This is because cancer treatments such as radiation will kill the fetus. Thus, a pregnant woman with cancer would not be allowed to have the treatment her doctor feels is most likely to save her life.
* Under the ban, this pregnant woman's doctor would not be allowed to refer her out of state for her cancer treatment. Since one's doctor is normally instrumental in planning referral care, this leaves the cancer patient in dire straits and on her own.
* Under the ban, the woman could treat her cancer aggressively after she gave birth. But oncologists do not recommend waiting nine months (or seven, or five) to treat aggressive cancers (such as ovarian cancer). Go figure.
* Under the ban, treatment that could cause an abortion, or an abortion that would be necessary to continue treatment, could only be performed if the woman is at risk of death during the pregnancy. But cancer doesn't work that way. The risk during pregnancy is that the cancer would metastasize so that after birth, the treatment would not work.
* Under the ban, the mortality risk that would have to be present in order for doctors to be allowed to perform abortions is undefined. For example, how likely would death have to be for a doctor to be able to perform an abortion without risk of being charged with a felony? Dr. Bell noted that the only situation under the ban in which she would feel comfortable performing an abortion to save a woman's life would be if the patient were hemorrhaging.
* Under the ban, pregnant women's health would not only be at grave risk due to cancer (breast, cervical, and ovarian cancers, leukemia, lymphomas, melanomas, gynecologic cancers, and bone tumors being the most common) but also from other common problems women are faced with during pregnancy: heart disease, kidney disease, strokes, diabetes, and premature rupture of membranes. Between one in a thousand and one in fifteen hundred women's pregnancies are complicated by cancer in SD every year (that's about 10-11 South Dakotan women every year). About 5-10% of all abortions are performed due to the types of situations listed above.
Supporters of the ban will argue, as they did in response to the outcry against the ban's lack of a rape/incest exemption, that this affects such few women that it shouldn't overturn the ban.
This gives us an indication of how much (little) they value women and children. We are mothers, daughters, wives, sisters. ALL of our lives are valuable. And our kids need us around. And when Jane Doe is faced with the agonizing decision of whether to terminate her wanted pregnancy in order to undergo treatment to save her life, or to refuse the treatment and risk leaving her seven-year-old without a mom, it is a matter for her to decide for herself.