No, an ectopic pregnancy is not an abortion. This argument over whether treatment for an ectopic is an abortion is a dumb one. It’s an argument we shouldn’t even be having because it does not matter. Someone deciding whether an ectopic is an abortion should not matter socially or legally. Yet it does and this is why we’ve already seen reports of dangerous delays in medical care for these life-threatening situations. The word abortion has been so weaponized. We are arguing whether a life-threatening pregnancy should be looked at with a stigma label as abortion.

Abortion is normal 

The truth is abortion is a standard term. It’s a medical term that can be applied to many diagnoses. Spontaneous abortion, threatened abortion, incomplete abortion, complete abortion, and many more. On the most basic level, abortion is the termination of a pregnancy. There are many other definitions – some include “intrauterine” or “nonviable.” We can argue all day over the semantics, but it’s futile as it won’t change our standard of medical care. Treatment of an ectopic ends a pregnancy. Leave the nuance to us doctors.

What is an ectopic pregnancy? 

Ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, most commonly in the fallopian tube. This condition is dangerous, not only for the developing embryo but also for the mother carrying it. And, if left untreated, an ectopic pregnancy can lead to a fallopian tube rupture. This will cause severe bleeding and endanger the mother’s life.

The treatment for an ectopic pregnancy involves the removal of the pregnancy when it poses a life-threatening risk. This intervention is a medical necessity, not a choice or convenience. The goal is to preserve the woman’s health and, if possible, her fertility.

An abortion, on the other hand, is the purposeful termination of a human pregnancy.

While some treatments for ectopic pregnancy can result in the end of the pregnancy, this is not the same as an abortion. The goal of treating an ectopic pregnancy is to save the life of the mother, not to end a viable pregnancy. Lastly, an ectopic pregnancy cannot proceed normally and the growing tissue may cause life-threatening bleeding if left untreated.

How do STDs play a part?

It’s important to always protect yourself! Many STDs don’t have obvious symptoms, and if left untreated can cause serious problems especially in women. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause a serious pelvic infection called pelvic inflammatory disease or PID. In fact, PID can cause damage to the fallopian tubes which leads to increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain, and even infertility. So – practice safe sex and use condoms consistently and correctly.

Stop the stigma

Again, the term abortion has been weaponized. It creates a false narrative. It lumps all pregnancy-related medical procedures into a stigmatized category. In reality, “abortion” is a broad medical term. It encompasses various diagnoses, each with its unique context and implications. These include spontaneous abortion, threatened abortion, incomplete abortion, etc. 

Remember, in the case of an ectopic pregnancy, the goal is to end the pregnancy when it cannot safely progress. When it poses a significant risk to the mother’s life, it falls under medical abortion. Yet, it’s an imperative, life-saving procedure, not a matter of choice.

My professional priority

As medical professionals, our priority is the well-being of our patients. I adhere to a standard of care based on medical science and the imperative to save lives. I will continue to provide the necessary care for ectopic pregnancies. The nuances and complexities of medical terminology are my concern, not yours.

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