Patients worry NC's proposed abortion bill could affect miscarriage care

Jamiese Price Image
Thursday, May 11, 2023
Some worry bill limiting abortion could affect other health services
Some worry the bill to limit abortion could affect the way women who have miscarriages are medically treated,

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Jessilyn Dunn is expecting her first child. The mom-to-be is 16 weeks along. I'm just you know, praying that everything is OK," she said.

She's praying for a healthy pregnancy after experiencing a miscarriage three years ago. She received that devastating news during her first ultrasound visit at eight and a half weeks.

"I was like, is everything OK? And basically, she said something to the effect of, No, there's no heartbeat. I'm sorry, I'll go get the doctor," Dunn reflected.

She had a few treatment options including medication, a surgical procedure, or continuing forward with her pregnancy until her body realized she was in a non-viable pregnancy, which could take weeks.

Dunn said all were difficult decisions to make. Ultimately, she decided on dilation and curettage, also known as D&C. According to the American Pregnancy Association, it's a surgical procedure to remove tissue in the uterus during or after a miscarriage to help prevent infection or heavy bleeding.

"It was probably one of the worst moments of my life," Dunn reflected. "Sitting in that room and talking through options, like thinking I was going into this visit to find out that my pregnancy was progressing and things were great, that was my expectation, and then having to deal with the reality that things were really not OK."

According to national data, about 25% of pregnancies will end in a miscarriage and medical experts say the treatment for a miscarriage is almost identical to the care for an abortion bringing into question how North Carolina's proposed 12-week abortion ban could impact miscarriage care.

"I think what's really worrisome here is that if someone shows up at an emergency room, they could be questioned as to whether this was a self-induced abortion versus a miscarriage. And I think that this is going to lead to unnecessary criminalization of people, said Dr. Amy Bryant an OBGYN in Durham.

She said we are already seeing the effects that abortion bans and restrictions have in other states.

"They're going to second guess, whether something they're doing is allowed or not, possibly. They may feel that they need to talk to a lawyer before they do the procedure," Bryant said.

Gov. Roy needs one Republican member in either chamber to break rank and join him in supporting a veto for SB20, but GOP leaders "could hold this veto override throughout the rest of the two-year legislative session if they wanted to."

Dunn said she's glad she had options during her first pregnancy, but fears what could happen if she has complications later in her trimester. "It is a very different experience now. Thinking through, like, what if, what if I go in and get bad news," she said.

"What is that going to look like? Will my doctors be limited and how they can offer treatment?" she asked.

A representative with NC Values Coalition said miscarriages will not be confused with abortions under this proposed legislation. It would not affect a mother whose unborn child died as a result of natural causes in utero.