FORT WORTH, Texas — The overturn of Roe v. Wade leaves the decision of whether abortion is legal or not up to the states to decide. Concerns on what restrictions this will place on life-threatening cases have been voiced by medical professionals and local Texans alike.
One life-threatening case which is only treated by pregnancy termination, or abortion, is an ectopic pregnancy.
What is an ectopic pregnancy?
An ectopic pregnancy happens when a fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus, 90 percent of the time in the Fallopian tube, which is where an egg travels from the ovary to the uterus.
Is an ectopic pregnancy life-threatening?
Yes. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, an ectopic pregnancy can lead to a rupture in the Fallopian tube which can cause major internal bleeding and requires immediate surgery.
Who is most at risk of an ectopic pregnancy?
There are several factors that could increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy. Those who have had an ectopic pregnancy in the past are at higher risk of having another one. Other risks include:
• Cigarette smoking
• History of infertility
• Some sexually transmitted infections
• Past abdominal, pelvic or Fallopian tube surgery
However, around half of all people who have an ectopic pregnancy do not have known risk factors, according to ACOG.
What are the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy?
Along with typical pregnancy symptoms, signs of an ectopic pregnancy include abnormal vaginal bleeding, lower back pain and mild pain and cramps.
ACOG suggests consulting a health care professional like an obstetrician-gynecologist if these symptoms occur.
Serious signs of an ectopic pregnancy include shoulder pain, weakness and fainting.
How is an ectopic pregnancy treated?
Because an ectopic pregnancy cannot be moved to the uterus, it is treated one of two ways: medication or surgery. Both forms of treatment result in the termination of the pregnancy, also known as an abortion.
Does the overturn of Roe v. Wade include ectopic pregnancies?
The official Supreme Court decision does not include the term “ectopic pregnancy.” Whether an ectopic pregnancy is legal will depend on individual state laws.
Texas’ “trigger” law, which outlaws abortion “wholly or partly,” is set to be in effect 30 days following the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
Star-Telegram previously reported that the law includes an exception for abortions performed on a patient in a “life-threatening physical condition” or if the pregnancy “poses a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function” to the patient.