Monday, October 24, 2022
During Summer 2022, while I was taking a break from blogging for health reasons, I published this Op. Ed. with NBC News. I cautioned that abortion bans would quickly create a tale of two healthcare systems for pregnant women far beyond abortion access, focusing on my own experiences with breast cancer as I moved employment from Kentucky to Virginia.
The ACLU of Ohio has now submitted affidavits in court documenting this occurrence along with many other harms to pregnant persons. The filing describes a woman with stage III melanoma who was was forced to suspend cancer care until she terminated her pregnancy, which she could not do legally in Ohio.
An Article published by Katherine Van Loom, MD, and Jordyn Silverstein, MD, in JAMA Oncology (August 2022) reports that
Approximately 1 in 1,000 pregnancies are affected by a concurrent cancer diagnosis. The most common cancers include breast cancer, cervical cancer, lymphoma, ovarian cancer, leukemia, colorectal cancer and melanoma. Termination of the pregnancy occurs in 9% to 28% of cases, with many occurring in the first trimester.
The 19th reported on this issue in its article Abortion Bans are Preventing Cancer Patients from Getting Chemotherapy. Shefali Luthra, writing for The 19th on October 7th explained the complexities:
Those are often emotionally fraught conversations . . . particularly for patients who intended to become pregnant and did not know about their cancer. If the disease is still in its early stages, some may attempt to surgically remove it, then wait for the pregnancy to reach its second trimester. If needed, they can begin chemotherapy at that point, hoping that the cancer has not progressed too far in the meanwhile.
But others, particularly those whose cancer is already more advanced, may need to get an abortion, begin chemotherapy and then try to become pregnant after, once they have completed treatment. There are even further complications there since chemotherapy can damage someone’s fertility.
In those cases, telling patients that they cannot receive an abortion in state becomes even more difficult. * * * “And then you have to say, ‘By the way, the state of Tennessee doesn’t think you’re dying enough, so for you to get the care you need now that you’ve made this tough decision, you have to go to an abortion clinic out of state.”