A Texas woman with a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy was denied emergency treatment due to concerns about the state’s strict abortion ban.
Texas has imposed a near-total ban on abortions, and even though the law includes exemptions for cases of extreme danger to the mother, doctors have hesitated to provide care in exceptional circumstances for fear of government-imposed penalties.
Kelsie Norris-De La Cruz, a 25-year-old college senior, was told that her ectopic pregnancy – a situation in which the embryo grows outside the uterus – could cause her fallopian tubes to rupture, causing a significant internal bleeding.
However, she claims that doctors at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital refused to terminate the pregnancy, saying there was some chance the pregnancy was still viable.
She underwent emergency surgery at another hospital when doctors realized the ectopic pregnancy was beginning to rupture and said that if she had waited any longer, she would have been “in extreme danger of losing her life.”
An ectopic pregnancy, in which the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, almost always results in pregnancy loss because the embryo cannot develop properly in these locations.
The map above shows abortion bans by state, including those where the procedure is prohibited for fertilization except in medical emergencies.
Norris-De La Cruz began experiencing cramps and bleeding early in her pregnancy. When she went to the hospital, doctors measured her hormone levels, performed an ultrasound, and told her to return in 48 hours.
It’s unclear how or why doctors missed the ectopic pregnancy during that first visit, instead calling him A ‘failed early pregnancy’
Norris-De La Cruz felt sick for weeks with severe abdominal pain that made her think she might have appendicitis or a urinary tract infection.
It wasn’t until a nurse at her campus health center examined her that she went to the hospital. But the doctors finally refused to operate on her and discharged her.
She was recommended to stay in the hospital one more night, but the next day, a second OB/GYN said “no surgery was warranted and sent her home.”
Meanwhile, her mother Stephanie Lloyd was trying to find an abortion provider in the state who could help her daughter, without success.
Finally, after texting a photo of her worrying ultrasound to a friend who was on her way to see her OB/GYN, Ms. Norris-De La Cruz was finally able to see a doctor, Jeffery Morgan, who immediately He identified it as an ectopic pregnancy. .
Ectopic pregnancies cannot progress normally and pose significant risks to the mother’s health, including internal bleeding if the ectopic pregnancy ruptures.
Dr. Morgan operated on her and was able to remove the ectopic pregnancy on the right side of her pelvis. But to do so, she had to remove most of her fallopian tubes, possibly resulting in a loss of fertility.
Texas law states that doctors can terminate a pregnancy if it is ectopic. Doctors said there was a chance the pregnancy was still viable, although leading medical authorities disagree with this.
Still, most doctors were afraid to perform a procedure that could land them in prison.
Texas law says doctors can terminate a pregnancy when it is ectopic
But the threat of jail time and six-figure fines for medical professionals has led some hospitals and doctors in the state to deny or delay care.
Dr Morgan said he was “baffled” that doctors refused to help Mrs Norris-De La Cruz, saying: “Any kind of ectopic, anything like that, is excluded.”
Stephanie Lloyd said she thought Texas’ abortion law would only affect people who decided they didn’t want to get pregnant.
She never imagined the law could prevent women like her daughter from accessing life-saving care. Since then, he completely changed his mind on banning abortion.
“I didn’t realize how far I had come,” he said. But now she has happened to my life, to my daughter’s.
He added: “Her life was in danger and she was affected by someone who was too afraid to help.”
Texas law makes limited exceptions to save the mother’s life, even in cases of ectopic pregnancies.
But the threat of six-figure fines and jail terms has had a chilling effect on hospitals where doctors have denied potentially life-saving care.
Any Texas woman who wants an abortion has to travel out of state to get one.