The annulment of Roe v. Wade will harm people with chronic illnesses

With the likelihood of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, resulting in the restriction or ban of abortion in at least 26 states, the number of people affected by pregnancy-related illnesses and deaths is set to worsen. The United States already has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations. A paper has valued that a nationwide ban on abortion would result in an overall 21% increase in pregnancy-related deaths and a 33% increase among black women.

Another group that is at risk? People with chronic diseases.

According to Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention6 out of 10 adults in the United States have a chronic disease, which runs the gamut from high blood pressure and diabetes to lupus and multiple sclerosis. It is estimated that 4 out of 10 people suffer from two or more chronic diseases.

During pregnancy, people with chronic conditions are at increased risk of complications such as high blood pressure, preeclampsia, placental problems, problems with the baby’s growth and premature delivery, as well as pregnancy-related deaths. , Dr. Jessica Shepherd, chief medical officer at Verywell Health, told HuffPost.

A 2017 study by University of Michigan found that chronic disease complications are the most common cause of pregnancy-related deaths in the United States, accounting for half of all such deaths.

“Having a pre-existing condition is already putting your health at risk,” Shepherd said. “Becoming pregnant increases this, because pregnancy already puts a lot of strain on the body, so the two together could potentially lead to mortality or morbidity.”

People of color, especially those with chronic illnesses, are at even greater risk of pregnancy-related complications and death.

“Black mothers are already twice as likely to die during or after childbirth as any other race. Additionally, disparities in specific conditions already exist for this community, making the two combined a real threat” at once for mother and fetus, Shepherd said, “Together, adding chronic conditions would further complicate the issue, worsening pregnancy and health outcomes for BIPOC communities.”

During pregnancy, certain medications and treatments for chronic conditions need to be adjusted, changed, or stopped. For example, some drugs that treat high blood pressure, seizures, blood clots, and depression can have adverse effects on a fetus, Berger said. However, stopping these drugs, especially suddenly due to an unplanned pregnancy, can harm the pregnant person.

Kaya 21-year-old in the South, is taking methotrexate, an immunosuppressive drug that treats rheumatoid arthritis. In high doses, methotrexate can cause miscarriage; it is also used to treat ectopic pregnancies, that is, when a fertilized egg develops outside the main cavity of the uterus. Stopping methotrexate in the event of an unplanned pregnancy could cause Kay’s rheumatoid arthritis to relapse, putting Kay at risk for serious joint damage.

“Currently, if I were to get pregnant, I would seek a chemical abortion through Planned Parenthood or some other medical route, because I don’t think it’s worth taking the risk to try to carry a fetus,” Kay said, who, like others in this story, asked to keep their last name private.

Kay fears losing access to methotrexate if Roe v. Wade is canceled. States like Louisiana are already introduction of legislation which criminalizes all pregnancy loss, including ectopic pregnancy.

In addition, certain chronic diseases increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy. Sarah, a 25-year-old in upstate New York, is currently being tested for Ehlers-Danlos syndromes, a group of genetic connective tissue diseases. People with EDS are at a much higher risk for ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages and other reproductive problems.

“Help us fight for us, please,” Sara said. “Many of us don’t have the means or the energy to add even more battles to the big [number] battles we are already fighting.

Concern is growing that the overturning of Roe v. Wade would also lead to restricting access to birth control. Members of Idaho House have already mentioned that they are considering banning abortion pills and morning after pills. People with conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis depend on birth control to reduce their symptoms and maintain their quality of life.

This is the case with Maya, a 28-year-old man in Houston, Texas, who currently uses birth control to help manage dysmenorrhea and possible endometriosis. Without it, she would not be able to attend school or work due to severe pain, her condition would likely worsen due to hormonal fluctuations, and she would be forced to worry about the dangers of accidental pregnancy.

“I already lose several months of my life every year to debilitating pain, and birth control helps keep that to a minimum,” Maya said.

This raises additional concerns that more people with chronic conditions will die by suicide if they don’t have access to the drugs needed to manage their symptoms. A British study found that half of all women with endometriosis reported having suicidal thoughts as a result of the disease.

“It’s a battle we all have to fight, but some groups are more at risk.”

– Kay, a 21-year-old from the south

Most abortion bans also ignore cases of rape. It is estimated that 2 out of 5 women rape victims are disabled, according to the CDC.

“I personally am a lesbian and only have sex with other women and non-binary people, but I am extremely concerned about the risk of being potentially sexually assaulted and becoming pregnant through these means, which which is the main reason I’m sub oral”. contraceptives currently, despite the side effects they have,” Kay said.

Although abortion is expected to remain legal in some states, people living with a chronic illness are less likely to have the money, transportation and other resources needed to order abortion pills by mail or go to an abortion clinic in another state. This will again have the greatest impact on communities of color, especially for those who also suffer from chronic illnesses.

“If Roe v. Wade is overturned, especially because I live in a more conservative state that has trigger laws in place, it becomes much more difficult for me to seek care in order to obtain an abortion, especially because I’m a woman of color,” Kay said.

What you can do if you have a chronic illness or how you can support someone who does

For now, Shepherd recommended focusing on preventative measures like birth control and emergency contraception. Ella is the most effective type of morning-after pill, according to Planned parenthood, but it requires a prescription. It is most effective for people who weigh less than 195 pounds. Plan B can be bought online or in-store at most major retailers without a prescription or ID, but it’s only effective for people weighing less than 155 pounds. Alternatively, certain types of IUDs can be placed within five days of unprotected sex and reduce the risk of pregnancy by more than 99.99%.

HelpAccess offers online consultations for mail-order abortion pills, which can be ordered in advance. Abortion pills have a shelf life of two years, according to the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics. They cost $110 to $150 depending on the state.

It’s important to include people with disabilities and chronic conditions in the conversation about reproductive health, Kay said.

Now is the time to learn from people with chronic conditions about how reproductive health care affects them, keep emergency contraception and abortion pills on hand for your community (but don’t store them), donate to basic abortion fund (especially those in states where abortion is about to be banned), and contact your State and federal representatives.

The decision of whether and when to have a child—and whether it’s safe to do so—should be made between a person and their healthcare providers. Everyone, including the chronically ill, deserves bodily autonomy.

“It’s a battle we all have to fight, but some groups are more at risk,” Kay said.


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