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19th Jul 2022

Woman bled for days after being denied treatment for incomplete miscarriage

The woman was left to bleed for 10 days before getting treatment.

A woman in Wisconsin, US was denied medication required to treat an incomplete miscarriage due to confusion over abortion legislation in her state.

As The Washington Post reports, the unnamed woman ended up bleeding for 10 days after healthcare workers refused to remove the foetal tissue as the drug required to do so, misoprostol, is the same drug used in abortion procedures.

The woman was advised to wait it out and see if the pregnancy would pass on its own. Eventually, after 10 days of bleeding, she received the treatment required at Mercy Health Cancer Center in Wisconsin.

The gynaecologist that treated her, Dr Carley Zeal, said that the delay in her care put her at risk of complications.

She said: “It really delayed her care.

“I saw her a week and a half later with an ongoing miscarriage and bleeding, increasing the risk of severe bleeding as well as infections.”

The initial delay and confusion over the woman’s care is a result of Wisconsin’s abortion laws, which prohibits abortion in all circumstances unless a termination is necessary to save the life of a woman, or if two physicians agree that the procedure is necessary in order for the woman to survive.

The ban was put back into place following the US Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, which had previously enshrined abortion as a constitutional right. Since then, a number of states have enacted laws that essentially criminalise abortion in all but very limited circumstances. Additionally, a number of centres that would have provided abortions have been shut down.

Last week, the Biden administration told hospitals across the US that they “must” offer abortion services if the pregnant person’s life is at risk.

Guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services said: “If a physician believes that a pregnant patient presenting at an emergency department is experiencing an emergency medical condition as defined by EMTALA, and that abortion is the stabilizing treatment necessary to resolve that condition, the physician must provide that treatment.”