On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 passing of Roe V. Wade, a law dedicated to granting people with uteruses access to safe abortions. Without promises of safe abortions and protective care, people with uteruses will turn to unsafe practices and procedures. Plus, other people affected with existing medical conditions who cannot resort to other contraceptive methods have to face higher-risk pregnancies and elevated health complications.
When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the most common medical conditions covered were ectopic pregnancies and endometriosis. Ectopic pregnancies occur when a fetus begins to grow outside the uterus. These pregnancies can not move forward to full term. If left untreated, the person with the ectopic pregnancy can suffer internal bleeding, hemorrhaging, and grave damage to their body. Sometimes even death.
Another common medical condition covered in the media was endometriosis. Endometriosis happens when uterine tissue grows outside the uterus. This condition can result in pelvic pain, lower back pain, and extreme menstrual cycles. If untreated, endometriosis can cause cancer. If diagnosed with endometriosis, infertility levels increase, but that does not mean you can’t get pregnant.
However, if you have an endometriosis diagnosis, carrying a fetus to term can increase your already severe pelvic and menstrual pain, and make your pregnancy infeasible. For people diagnosed with these conditions, abortion is a necessary healthcare procedure.
While ectopic pregnancies and endometriosis are common conditions requiring people with uteruses to get abortions, many other conditions requiring abortions affect individuals. For example, if you experience blood clots, birth control is not a safe option in all circumstances and you might have to seek out abortions as contraceptive care. Overturning Roe V. Wade elevates dangers associated with avoidable medical risk and puts individuals unable to consume birth control or use other contraceptive measures in vulnerable populations.
Women’s Advance spoke to Katy Williams, someone who had a tumor removed on her thyroid for a condition unrelated to her pelvic region. When Williams discovered she had a tumor on her thyroid, she decided to move forward with the surgery, unaware of the outcomes it would have on her menstrual cycle.
The surgery did not directly affect her ability to get pregnant, but it greatly affected her body’s response to birth control.
“After having half my thyroid removed, my body completely rejected the birth control I was on. It made me gain weight, get depressed, my skin broke out, my hair was falling out, and my period lasted for five months,” Williams shared.
In 2019 alone, the CDC reported around 65% of women between ages 15 and 49 took birth control either for contraceptive purposes, health conditions, or other matters. Not only does the pill have lasting contraceptive benefits, but it can also mitigate other health conditions not related to pregnancy. And while it has the capacity to mitigate the effects, it can also have adverse effects on reproductive anatomy.
Before Williams had half of her thyroid, a gland responsible for controlling hormone production and regulation, removed, she experienced regular periods and minimal side effects from her birth control. After her surgery, she experienced a vast hormone shift. She told Women’s Advance that the change made her weary of taking birth control. So, she quit taking the contraceptive pill several months following her thyroid procedure.
“Thankfully, when I got off of birth control, everything eventually returned to normal. But after that experience, birth control really isn’t an option for me,” Williams said.
On the one hand, Williams cannot take birth control due to its detrimental side effects on her body. Another reason she is an advocate for safe access to abortions is to ensure pregnancies won’t be high risk.
“On the other hand, having half of a thyroid would make me a high-risk pregnancy, with greater risks of disability and death,” Williams shared.
A high-risk pregnancy is a pregnancy that has the potential to harm the person carrying the fetus, the fetus, or both. High-risk pregnancies occur commonly if the patient has PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), thyroid disease, high blood pressure, and many other conditions. High-risk pregnancies require more care for the patient than other low-risk pregnancies, increased medical expenses, and a higher chance of something going wrong.
Babies affected by high-risk pregnancies could be stillborn, have congenital disabilities, a premature birth, growth issues, anemia, and several other complications. High-risk pregnancies do not mean the fetus or parent will experience any of these symptoms, just that they have an increased chance of a more difficult pregnancy.
“Plenty of women have high-risk pregnancies, and everything is totally fine, but that’s not really something I want to put myself through,” Willaims continued.
Williams says forcing someone to carry a baby to term and place themselves in potential danger or even an increased risk of death is not ideal for people who have high-risk pregnancies and decide to prioritize their health or their fetus’s health.
“So for me, having the choice of abortion is important because I don’t get a full choice in how I prevent pregnancy.”
One of the lesser talked about medical conditions affecting abortion is interstitial cystitis or bladder inflammation. According to an article on Mayo Clinic, those diagnosed have intense urination urges and infrequently feel relief after urination. Those diagnosed might also experience pain in their bladder, anal pain, pain during sex, and increased symptoms during menstrual cycles. Again, those diagnosed with interstitial cystitis can have children, but that might not be the safest option for those with severe cases.
One symptom of pregnancy is frequent urination. If you have interstitial cystitis, you already experience frequent urination. Add painful, frequent urination on top of a fetus pushing on your bladder and chronic pelvic pain; someone might not want to carry a fetus to full term.
The National Library of Medicine studied those diagnosed with interstitial cystitis that has had miscarriages. The library found those diagnosed with the condition are more likely to have miscarriages, and some people have more than one miscarriage due to stress surrounding their condition. Abortion is vital for people with interstitial cystitis who want to prevent themselves from increased pelvic pain and miscarriages.
Abortions help millions of people with uteruses receive mandatory healthcare. Whether they experience symptoms related to ectopic pregnancies, endometriosis, thyroid conditions, or any other condition, overturning Roe V. Wade revoked necessary healthcare rights for millions of people with uteruses living in the U.S.
Gabrielle Reeder is a freelance journalist from Tampa, Florida whose interests lie in music, entertainment, social issues and anything and everything relating to horror movies. When she’s not writing you can find her at a Billie Eilish concert or solving a Rubik’s cube.