Physicians delaying care to those who suffer miscarriages citing confusion on Texas abortion bans

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Friday, August 5, 2022
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A Conroe woman wanting a D&C has called into question where miscarriages stand with Texas's strict abortion bans.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In Texas, the treatment for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies is currently still legal, but some women are saying that they are still not getting the care that they need.

A Conroe woman who suffered a miscarriage says the state's restrictive abortion laws forced her to carry a dead fetus for nearly two weeks while looking for treatment.

RELATED: 'You feel like a walking coffin': Conroe mom says Texas' strict abortion laws endangered her health

Marlena Stell said she wanted a dilatation and curettage, known as a D&C. It is a common procedure to remove a fetus after a miscarriage to prevent infection.

Stell said that every doctor she contacted in the Houston area refused to give her the procedure, citing confusion about abortion bans.

"You feel like a walking coffin. You're just walking around knowing that you're carrying a loss," Stell said. "It felt like I was jumping through so many hoops to get care for something that had already happened. I already had lost the baby."

We've also heard from those who have had no problem finding doctors who do perform D&C procedures.

The problem, many have said, is that laws don't consider complicated miscarriages, and confusion has led to medical professionals delaying or even denying care.

"It's very, very hard to write a code of medical practice into a legal document," Seth Chandler, a University of Houston law professor, said. "So, what the codes have done is to displace medical discretion, which is complicated and requires years of training with rules that can be set down in a couple of sentences, and unfortunately, medicine is not that simple."

RELATED: Roe v. Wade overturned: Abortions will be banned in Texas in 30 days, with only few exceptions

Eyewitness News reached out to Gov. Greg Abbott's office for clarification but were referred to the Texas Medical Board, which did not return our messages.

Multiple local health professionals also told ABC13 they did not want to comment on miscarriage care.

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