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Texas Abortion Law Complicates Care for Risky Pregnancies

The only way to stop the heavy bleeding is to end the pregnancy and contract the uterus, Dr. Moayedi said. Time is of the essence. “Every OB-GYN has cared for someone who has died from a hemorrhage,” she said. “If someone is hemorrhaging while miscarrying, how long do I have to wait?”

Even if the mother’s life is saved, Dr. Moayedi added, she could require an emergency hysterectomy, or removal of the uterus, which would leave her infertile.

Other complications that occur when a woman is carrying twins or multiples can be resolved by a “selective reduction,” or abortion, of one of the fetuses so that the other has a better chance to live. Not doing so can, in some circumstances, kill all of the fetuses. Selective reductions are forbidden under the new state law.

In other cases, a pregnant woman’s medical needs may conflict with those of her fetus.

Just a few months before the Texas legislature passed the new law, Dr. Robert Gunby Jr., an obstetrician in Dallas, was caring for a pregnant newlywed who suddenly started losing weight. She was diagnosed with an aggressive lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system.

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An oncologist urged the woman to start treatment immediately, but the chemotherapy regimen would have been toxic to the fetus.

“First she said, ‘I can’t, I want this baby so badly,’” Dr. Gunby recalled. “But it was the only choice they had to save this young woman.” She eventually agreed, and the treatment was begun as soon as an abortion was performed.

Dr. Palmer, the obstetrician in Fort Worth, said that one of her patients was trying to get pregnant after the new law went into effect, and she had consensual sex with her partner.

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