Sunday, October 02, 2005

Who Needs Rights?

An article in today's New York Times addresses the drug, misoprotol, covered in yesterday's post on miscarriage treatment. The piece is entitled, "Abortion Might Outgrow its Need for Roe v Wade," but the content of the article suggests otherwise. The article explains that in Brazil, where abortion is largely illegal, women began using misoprostol to end pregnancies (and suggesting it to other women) because miscarriage is listed as a side effect. If the drug fails, a surgical abortion may still be needed and/or birth defects can result, so the government restricted access to the ulcer drug. As a result, a black market developed. The article does mention the side effects of the drug, but the poor choice of title suggests that if Roe were overturned, women could move on just popping a pill, easy as pie. In reality, the piece suggests that in the absence of legal abortion, women still terminate pregnancies, but do so by resorting to dangerous self-medication practices without proper medical supervision, guessing at dosages and trying drugs that may be entirely inappropriate. The article also says that when the drug fails, Brazilian women turn up at hospitals for miscarriage treatment, potentially resulting in suspicions about whether they intentionally caused it. I imagine that if this became a trend in the US, women would experiment with any number of drugs that have miscarriage as a side effect, and those who prescribe them would come under the same scrutiny as those prescribing pain killers. Ultimately, we may add to the costs of healthcare, add to the size of the drug war (and the black market for drugs) by including women and physicians whose choices have been taken away, and create a new criminal class where all women who miscarry are under a cloud of suspicion. None of this will do anything to correct the situations that cause women to choose to terminate pregnancies, and the NYTimes article does women a disservice by suggesting the overturning abortion legislation would have limited consequences.
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