Florida’s abortion restrictions have disrupted the standard of care for a pregnancy complication two women experienced late last year


Anti-abortion laws have consequences. We have anti-abortion laws because elections have consequences.

In my April 4th post, “Gov. Ron DeSantis quietly signs permit-less carry bill within hours of it landing on his desk” (https://around-the-block.com/2023/04/04/gov-ron-desantis-quietly-signs-permitless-carry-bill-within-hours-of-it-landing-on-his-desk/), I also wrote about Florida’s proposed 6-week abortion ban that passed the state Senate and will be undoubtedly signed by Governor Ron DeSantis:

The Florida Senate yesterday passed a bill that will ban most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy–before most people know they’re pregnant. The debate leading up to the vote was interrupted several times by protesters leading Senate President Kathleen Passidomo to clear the gallery. Although two GOP senators voted with Democrats, the bill passed 26-13 (still two-thirds). Ironic, isn’t it, that 67% of Florida’s senators voted for this abortion ban when, according to a poll from Florida Atlantic University, 67% of Floridians want abortion legal in most or all cases.

Today, courtesy of The Washington Post‘s Caroline Kitchener, in a story headlined, “Two friends were denied care after Florida banned abortion. One almost died,” I thought it important to write about the real world implications of Florida’s horrific anti-abortion law. A real world implication that happened right in my backyard – in neighboring Broward County.

Please note, Kitchener’s story is graphic. I will excerpt parts but will include a PDF for anyone who wants to…and you should want to…understand what Florida’s law, and others like it, really mean.

MIRAMAR, Fla. — Anya Cook did not want to push. But sitting on the toilet, legs splayed wide, she knew she didn’t have a choice.

She was about to deliver her baby alone in the bathroom of a hair salon. On this Thursday afternoon in mid-December, about five months before her due date, she knew the baby would not be born alive.

Cook tried to tune out the easy chatter outside, happy women with working wombs catching up with their hairdresser. At 36, she’d already experienced a long line of miscarriages, but none of the pregnancies had been more than five weeks along. Now she had to deliver a nearly 16- week fetus — a daughter she’d planned to call Bunny.

She took a deep breath and closed her eyes.

As soon as the fetus hit the water, blood started flowing between her thighs. Blood splattered on the white toilet seat and across the floor. She panicked, her hands shaking as she picked up her phone to call her husband, Derick.

“Baby,” she said, “I need you to come to the bathroom.”

Over the course of the day, according to medical records, Cook would lose roughly half the blood in her body.

She had intended to deliver the fetus in a hospital, a doctor by her side. When her water broke the night before — at least six weeks ahead of when a fetus could survive on its own — she drove straight to the emergency room, where she said the doctor explained that she was experiencing pre- viability preterm prelabor rupture of the membranes (PPROM), which occurs in less than 1 percent of pregnancies. The condition can cause significant complications, including infection and hemorrhage, that can threaten the health or life of the mother, according to multiple studies.

At the hospital in Coral Springs, Fla., Cook received antibiotics, records show. Then she was sent home to wait.

Cook’s experience reflects a new reality playing out in hospitals in antiabortion states across the country — where because of newly enacted abortion bans, people with potentially life-threatening pregnancy complications are being denied care that was readily available before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

When abortion was legal across the country, doctors in all states would typically offer to induce or perform a surgical procedure to end the pregnancy when faced with a pre- viability PPROM case — which is the standard of care, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and an option that many women choose. Especially before the 20-week mark, a fetus is extremely unlikely to survive without any amniotic fluid.

But in the 18 states where abortion is now banned before fetal viability, many hospitals have been turning away pre- viability PPROM patients as doctors and administrators fear the legal risk that could come with terminating even a pregnancy that could jeopardize the mother’s well-being, according to 12 physicians practicing in antiabortion states…

…About 15 minutes after Anya delivered the fetus, paramedics charged through the hair salon doors with a stretcher, she and her husband, Derick Cook, recalled. Paramedics slipped the fetal remains inside a red biohazard bag and rushed Anya to a nearby hospital.

When Hany Moustafa, the OB/GYN on call that day, started the procedure to clear remaining pregnancy tissue out of Anya’s uterus, she was still bleeding profusely, he said, describing Anya’s condition with her consent. She was “critically ill” and “mechanically ventilated,” according to medical records.

The doctor stepped out into the waiting room to talk to Derick, who had followed his wife to the ER. Moustafa told Derick that his wife could die in the operating room, both men recalled.

“I will do my very best,” the doctor said. “But the rest is up to God.”

(The night before the Anya delivered the fetus in the bathroom):

…Anya spent an hour in the waiting room of the Broward Health hospital in Coral Springs, amniotic fluid dripping onto the floor, she and Derick recalled. When the doctor finally saw her, he delivered the distressing news, they said: Anya was experiencing PPROM — and because of the state’s abortion law, he could not induce labor. She could not stay at the hospital, either, she said she was told.

Because she was so early in her pregnancy, she recalled the doctor saying, there was no chance her baby would survive.

Cook wanted to scream. There must be some kind of protocol for this situation, she thought — she couldn’t possibly be the first woman in Florida to have this condition since Roe v. Wade was overturned. Was there a supervisor she could talk with? Anyone else who could help?

“You’re not telling me anything,” Anya recalled saying. “So, basically, I have no options.”

The doctor at Broward told her to go home and “return immediately” if her symptoms worsened, according to medical records. A nurse offered some antibiotics to minimize the chance of infection, Anya recalled, then promised to pray for her.

Medical records from the visit, which Cook provided to The Post, show that Cook was “gushing amniotic fluid” when she arrived at the hospital, with no fluid present around the fetus. The records say that the fetus was showing cardiac activity, with a heart rate of 131 beats per minute...

I could go on but by now the point has been made. As Kitchener writes, “doctors and administrators fear the legal risk that could come with terminating even a pregnancy that could jeopardize the mother’s well-being.” These laws are literally torturing women and, despite the movement’s “pro-life” misnomer, putting their lives at risk.

As promised, I’ve attached the entire article, the rest of which talks about the second woman, a friend of Anya Cook, who also suffered from PPROM and who experienced the same lack of care in Florida at almost the same time. The article also goes on to detail excuses from hospital administrators and illogical defense-of-the-law statements from Republican state legislators.

I will leave you with this: Elections really do have consequences. The current makeup of Supreme Court, the Supreme Court that overturned Roe v Wade is a result of an election. The right-wing judge in Texas who ordered the abortion pill, mifepristone, to be banned after over 20 years of safe usage is a result of the same election. The holier than thou governor of Florida and his lackeys in the overwhelmingly GOP Florida legislature are the results of elections. Gerrymandered Congressional and state legislature districts will make winning future elections an uphill battle. But it’s a battle that can be won – look at Michigan where the three top statewide positions and both houses of the legislature are in the hands of Democrats; look at Pennsylvania where a Democratic governor and a Democratic senator were elected in 2022; and most recently, look at Wisconsin, where last week a progressive Democrat, Janet Protasiewicz, was elected to the state Supreme Court giving liberals their first majority on the state’s highest court in 15 years.

Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Three “swing” states that have “swung” Democratic. The battle can be won!

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy. Besides writing Around the Block, Ted is also a guest columnist for the Palm Beach Post.

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