Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday opened an investigation into the devastating health impacts that state-level GOP abortion bans and restrictions have had on pregnant people across the U.S., citing the litany of horror stories published in local and national newspapers in the weeks since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
“The stories are shocking and horrific,” Warren (D-Mass.) wrote in new letters to National Nurses United, the American Medical Association, Physicians for Reproductive Health, and other organizations as part of her effort to gather information on the consequences of newly enacted anti-abortion statutes.
“In Wisconsin, a woman ‘bled for more than 10 days from an incomplete miscarriage after emergency room staff would not remove the fetal tissue,’” Warren noted, citing a recent Washington Post story detailing how providers are struggling to navigate the confusing post-Roe legal landscape—a dynamic that has led to patients being denied care even under clearly life-threatening conditions.
Warren pointed to an NPR article about a Texas woman who was “denied medical care for days after her water broke in the 18th week of her pregnancy (well before the threshold for fetal viability), despite vomiting, passing clots of blood and yellow discharge, and exhibiting signs of infection.”
“The chance of survival for her fetus was ‘as close to zero as you’ll ever get in medicine,’” Warren wrote, quoting a passage from the July story. “But because there was still a fetal heartbeat and Texas’ abortion ban offers no definition for its ‘medical emergency’ exception, the hospital ethics committee did not approve treatment until her discharge was ‘foul’ and ‘[e]nough to make her retch.’”
Similarly appalling stories abound, growing in number each day as Republicans in dozens of states look to impose and expand abortion restrictions in their states, with the ultimate goal of outlawing the practice nationwide—a move that would have deadly effects.
GOP state laws have already forced the closure of dozens of abortion clinics across the U.S., with more likely to shutter in the coming months as Republican lawmakers in Florida, Indiana, and other states move to prohibit the reproductive health service.
“Let’s be clear: Republican politicians are risking women’s lives and health in pursuit of a dangerous, out-of-touch agenda,” Warren tweeted late Wednesday. “I’m opening an investigation into horrific reports of state abortion bans resulting in women being denied critical healthcare.”
As part of her probe, Warren is asking healthcare providers, nurses’ groups, and other organizations to share how post-Roe abortion restrictions have affected patients, hampered access to reproductive care and other services, and impacted the ability of providers and healthcare workers to “independently exercise their medical judgment.”
Recent reports of people facing severe health crises after being rejected for basic healthcare services and medications due to Republican abortion bans are “a harbinger of the threats faced by millions of women under state-imposed abortion bans and by their providers who took an oath to ‘do no harm,’” Warren wrote in her letters.
“There is no doubt,” she added, “that the blame for such tragedies lays squarely at the feet of extremist Republican state legislators who are willing to risk the lives and safety of women in their pursuit of a right-wing, misogynistic, and out-of-touch agenda.”
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Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams. Follow him on Twitter: @johnsonjakep.