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Bill removes “ectopic pregnancy” from abortion definition

By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY–A bill passed out of the legislature on Thursday removing the terminology “ectopic pregnancy” from the definition of abortion in the state of Alabama.

It also removes a requirement on physicians to require a determination of post-fertilization age of the unborn and limit it only to a pre-abortion case. It changes the requirement for reporting of fetal deaths and pregnancy terminations to probable post-fertilization age only.

House Bill 493 was sponsored by Representative Jack Williams (R-Vestavia Hills). According to Senator Linda Coleman (D-Birmingham) an ectopic pregnancy endangers a woman’s life since the pregnancy can not be carried to term.

“I think HB493 [ectopic pregnancy bill] really saves lives. For me it was about saving lives. That has nothing to do with abortion per se. Right now in the state of Alabama, if a woman has an ectopic pregnancy, typically known as a pregnancy in the tubes, that you can really not carry full term, there is great danger to a woman’s death,” said Senator Linda Coleman (D-Birmingham).

Since currently ectopic pregnancy falls under the definition of abortion in the state of Alabama, many physicians will not perform the procedure to terminate pregnancy causing many women to have to travel out of state.

“In the state of Alabama this rights a wrong that has been there a long time because if you had an ectopic pregnancy and had to terminate because of medical reasons it was listed as an abortion. There is a stigma that goes with that,” said Sen. Coleman. “It also causes problems for the physician who has to treat a woman because there are many doctors who are against abortions. So if they go to that doctor they may not get proper treatment.”

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According to Rep. Coleman a 2007-2009 report showed that some 500 deaths have occurred as a result of the rupture of the fallopian tube resulting in the woman “bleeding out” or hemorrhaging to death.

Sen. Coleman tells of a situation in which a woman had an ectopic pregnancy, was diagnosed by a physician who said he could not perform the abortion for the ectopic pregnancy because it was against Alabama state law. She was sent to Atlanta to have the procedure performed. When she returned to her Alabama hospital for a check-up, her record reflect her as having had an abortion.

“There is a report listing names of women who had abortion annually, we hope by passing this bill, that list for this year would not have the names of those women who have had to undergo this type of surgery and be listed as an abortion,” said Sen. Coleman. “It is about protecting a woman’s health and the sanctity of a woman’s choice.”

If this bill passes and is signed by the Governor, ectopic pregnancies in Alabama will no longer be classified as an abortion.

The bill will now move to the Governor’s office for consideration.

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