Menu

Missouri ‘Ectopic Pregnancy’ Bill

Claim

"A bill in Missouri makes illegal to get an abortion if the patient has an ectopic pregnancy."

Rating

Decontextualized
Like this fact check?

Reporting

On March 10 2022, Imgur and Twitter users shared a viral tweet concerning an abortion bill in Missouri’s ectopic pregnancy provision — purportedly making any life-saving treatment of the complication “illegal”:

In the tweet, former CBS News reporter Kate Smith stated:

A bill in Missouri makes illegal to get an abortion if the patient has an ectopic pregnancy.

Missouri ‘Ectopic Pregnancy’ Bi...
Missouri ‘Ectopic Pregnancy’ Bill

Facts about ectopic pregnancies:
– They’re are not viable. Full stop.
– They’re the 1 cause of death for 1st trimester patients.

Smith’s tweet included a screenshot of Missouri House Bill No. 2810, with a section highlighted and a link to the entire bill [PDF]. A relevant section appeared in the screenshot in boldface (reproduced below, with the highlighted section underlined), and it read in part:

Section A. Sections 338.270 and 338.337, RSMo, are repealed and three new sections enacted in lieu thereof, to be known as sections 188.090, 338.270, and 338.337, to read as follows:

188.090. 1. A person or entity commits the offense of trafficking abortion inducing devices or drugs if such person or entity knowingly imports, exports, distributes, delivers, manufactures, produces, prescribes, administers, or dispenses or attempts to import, export, distribute, deliver, manufacture, produce, prescribe, administer, or dispense any instrument, device, medicine, drug, or any other means or substance to be used for the purpose of performing or inducing an abortion on another person in violation of any state or federal law.

2. The offense of trafficking abortion-inducing devices or drugs is a class B felony.

3. The offense of trafficking abortion-inducing devices or drugs is a class A felony if: 

(1) The abortion was performed or induced or was attempted to be performed or  induced on a woman carrying an unborn child of more than ten weeks gestational age;

(2) The abortion was performed or induced or was attempted to be performed or induced on a woman who has an ectopic pregnancy;

We italicized the preceding portion of the underlined text. It seemed to indicate that the “offense of trafficking abortion-inducing devices or drugs is a class B felony … [if] the abortion was performed or induced on a woman who [presented] with an ectopic pregnancy.”

Small text visible at the bottom of the page in the tweet’s screenshot indicated that text in brackets or struck through “is intended to be omitted” from the bill, whereas text in boldface (the entire passage) represented “proposed language” presumably being introduced to the bill:

EXPLANATION — Matter enclosed in bold-faced brackets [thus] in the above bill is not enacted and is intended to be omitted from the law. Matter in bold-face type in the above bill is proposed language.

Smith’s tweet asserted that ectopic pregnancies are never viable, and that the complication posed a severe risk to the patient. A Mayo Clinic informational entry about ectopic pregnancy explained:

An ectopic pregnancy most often occurs in a fallopian tube, which carries eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. This type of ectopic pregnancy is called a tubal pregnancy. Sometimes, an ectopic pregnancy occurs in other areas of the body, such as the ovary, abdominal cavity or the lower part of the uterus (cervix), which connects to the vagina.

An ectopic pregnancy can’t proceed normally. The fertilized egg can’t survive, and the growing tissue may cause life-threatening bleeding, if left untreated.

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) advised patients on ectopic pregnancies, noting that they it was not “possible to save the pregnancy”:

An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes.

The fallopian tubes are the tubes connecting the ovaries to the womb. If an egg gets stuck in them, it won’t develop into a baby and your health may be at risk if the pregnancy continues.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to save the pregnancy. It usually has to be removed using medicine or an operation.

In the UK, around 1 in every 90 pregnancies is ectopic. This is around 11,000 pregnancies a year.

The American College of Gynecologists (ACOG) provided a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page for ectopic pregnancies, explaining that all ectopic pregnancies must be ended for the safety of the mother. ACOG added that ectopic pregnancies are typically addressed with medication in the event that a fallopian tube had not ruptured, and surgically if it had:

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus. Almost all ectopic pregnancies—more than 90%—occur in a fallopian tube. As the pregnancy grows, it can cause the tube to burst (rupture). A rupture can cause major internal bleeding. This can be a life-threatening emergency that needs immediate surgery.

[…]

An ectopic pregnancy cannot move or be moved to the uterus, so it always requires treatment. There are two methods used to treat an ectopic pregnancy: 1) medication and 2) surgery. Several weeks of follow-up are required with each treatment.

A search for news about Missouri House Bill 2810 returned a March 8 2022 Washington Post article that did not mention the bill or its sponsor, Rep. Brian Seitz (R). It focused on broader efforts in Missouri to prevent residents from traveling to Illinois to obtain abortions; ectopic pregnancy was not mentioned either. A March 9 2022 item from Missouri’s KOMU did not mention Seitz, nor attempts to legislate treatment of ectopic pregnancy.

A March 10 2022 Newsweek.com piece, “Missouri Bill Would Make It Illegal to Abort Deadly Ectopic Pregnancy,” included commentary from Seitz about the bill’s ectopic pregnancy provisions. However, Seitz appeared to believe the language of the bill did not prevent treatment of ectopic pregnancies in Missouri:

Women who suffer dangerous complications from an ectopic pregnancy would be unable to get an abortion in Missouri if a restrictive law makes it to the governor’s desk.

A Missouri legislative panel on Wednesday [March 9 2022] considered a bill its Republican sponsor said is intended to clamp down on the trafficking of devices and drugs used to induce abortion. The bill is among a range of efforts by red-state legislators across the country to restrict abortion rights in response a shift in the U.S. Supreme Court. But the committee raised concerns the bill could have unintended consequences and criminalize necessary medical procedures … Republican state Representative Brian Seitz told the committee he introduced House Bill 2810 in response to a ruling by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December [2021] that allows women to order abortion pills through the mail.

[…]

He said the bill is intended to prevent the sale or transfer of instruments, devices and drugs for the purpose of “inducing an abortion on another person in violation of state and or federal law.”

Seitz said the bill doesn’t ban the manufacture or dispensing of drugs or devices used to perform an abortion … Seitz insisted his bill won’t prevent the legal use of treatments for ectopic pregnancies and would only apply to situations in which a woman was being trafficked for sex. He said his bill would apply also apply for situations outside of a hospital or doctor’s care.

On March 11 2022, Vogue‘s “In Missouri, a New Bill Would Make Aborting an Ectopic Pregnancy Illegal” reported:

Brian Seitz, the GOP state representative sponsoring the bill, displayed a disturbing lack of awareness in his defense of it, saying, “They don’t have the hospital machinery to tell if this is an ectopic pregnancy. They might just think it’s a normal pregnancy, and they want to abort that child. I would like to see that sort of unlawful activity stopped.” (For the record, ectopic pregnancies cannot be detected from a mere physical examination, and must be diagnosed via blood test or ultrasound.)

In an attempt to isolate information published prior to Smith’s March 10 2022 tweet, we searched for content about Brian Seitz and ectopic pregnancy published on or before March 9 2022. Of the 13 results returned, nearly all were misdated or included discourse appended after Smith’s tweet went viral.

One of the results was a post to Reddit’s r/medicalschool on March 10 2022, where people debated the veracity of the claim:

It doesn’t look like anyone, literally anyone, in the original post read this in its entirety (or even skimmed it) before commenting. Original post is super misleading.

Similar discourse occurred on a March 10 2022 thread on the pro-abortion rights subreddit r/pregnant (“Concerning news for Missouri residents regarding HB 2810 that would make terminating an ectopic pregnancy a felony”):

Concerning news for Missouri residents regarding HB 2810 that would make terminating an ectopic pregnancy a felony. from pregnant

One account commented that the language was possibly misconstrued by users, and another concurred:

Ok. I don’t know anything about the other sections these three pages are referring to BUT

These three pages are making it illegal if you’re preforming/providing drugs for at home abortions with tools or drugs you trafficked (the drugs part includes unlicensed in the state of Missouri pharmacies/manufacturers/doctors) into the state of Missouri and are trying to preform/distribute the drugs for an abortion on a woman over 10 weeks pregnant (which should definitely be done at a doctors office anyways) or trying to abort an ectopic pregnancy on you’re own/her own (which can be incredibly dangerous and fatal).

You especially cannot be doing this (distributing/preforming/manufacturing, etc.) near or at a school or a school bus, in a car, in government housing, a hotel/lodging (and similar places open to the public), any place that’s meant for the purpose of housing people for living/sleep (i.e. a homeless shelter).

So basically you cannot “take care of business” yourself or provide the tools/drugs for anyone else to do so if you are NOT a licensed person to do so in the state of Missouri. You MUST get your drug/procedure from a properly licensed pharmacy/doctor. Everyone involved in making/distributing/prescribing/etc. must all have the proper license in the state of Missouri.

This is a rough write out from my understanding after reading over it 5 times. Please correct me if I’m wrong or if you have a question.

You seem to be right. I am not reading anywhere that it would be illegal to terminate an ectopic pregnancy.

Reddit commenters were not the only people debating whether Seitz’s bill prevented treatment for ectopic pregnancies. An interesting contrast emerged in Twitter discourse, where one anti-abortion user (Allie Beth Stuckey) objected to Seitz’s bill on the grounds it would harm women experiencing ectopic pregnancies:

However, user Aubrey Hirsch — who advocated for access to abortion — asserted the bill was being misconstrued in heated discourse:

Seitz himself used Twitter and Facebook to clarify the bill’s intent and language. In a March 11 2022 Facebook statement, he blamed Newsweek.com for the confusion:

Recently, quite a bit of false information has been shared about a bill I’ve authored that is actually meant to protect women (and the unborn), not harm them, but the narrative has been hijacked by individuals purposefully misreading and misrepresenting the bill to fit their own agenda. Specifically, there are many lies being spread about a section of the bill that mentions “ectopic pregnancy.”

The Newsweek article attached does a good job of laying out the issues (although the headline is misleading and inflammatory) and I’ve offered an explanation to clear up the ectopic pregnancy issue below.

As you all know, ectopic pregnancies are VERY dangerous, putting the life of the mother at risk. To protect the life of the mother, the law allows for procedures to deal with ectopic pregnancies, and this bill does nothing to curtail that LEGAL activity, as it can present a clear and present danger to the mother. This bill would NOT affect those legal procedures.

On that note, and with that understanding, those who would skirt our laws, even to the point of making a non-clinical diagnosis, and then ‘playing God’, using implements, devices and abortion inducing drugs, outside of their legal usage, (something that is extremely dangerous for women with ectopic pregnancies as that situation must be dealt with in a very specific manner) must be stopped, to protect the life of the mother. (An example would be human traffickers who try to get rid of unwanted pregnancies quickly so they can continue to traffic their victims. They will employ procedures, medications, etc. that are extremely harmful to the victim. This legislation would go after those vile human traffickers.)

This bill is designed to protect women.

It does nothing to stop the legal use of current drugs. It is designed to curtail the illegal transportation, manufacture, sale, use, etc. of otherwise legal drugs. I understand there are other voices out there saying this bill does things it does NOT do, but those voices either haven’t read the bill, haven’t reached out for further understanding, or are purposefully misleading people.

Once again, nothing in the bill as written stops or curtails the treatment of ectopic pregnancy. Furthermore, I’ve offered an amendment to more adequately clarify that fact (something that is being ignored in the mainstream, but is very clear when watching the committee hearing).

I hope this clears up any confusion that might exist out there. I will continue to fight for the lives of the unborn, AND the protection of women in dangerous and harmful situations, even as the Left tries to twist the bill language to fit their own narrative.

You can read the Newsweek article here [link.]

On March 10 2022, Smith’s viral tweet asserted that Seitz’s House Bill 2810 would aim to outlaw treatment of ectopic pregnancy in Missouri if it passed as written. That claim quickly spread on Twitter and other platforms, and formed the basis of news articles from non-local sources. Adding to the confusion was the fact that prominent supporters of abortion access described the bill’s language as misleadingly interpreted, and a vocal advocate of abortion restrictions said (and later retracted) the opposite. Seitz himself claimed that “nothing in the bill as written stops or curtails the treatment of ectopic pregnancy,” but the language itself was confusing as it existed on March 11 2022. If the bill is amended or clarified, we will update the page; at the moment, we have rated it Decontextualized, due to the confusion surrounding the language about ectopic pregnancy.