HEALTH CARE BRIEFING: Prosecutions Await Women Post-Roe

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Prosecuting women suspected of purposefully or accidentally ending a pregnancy has been rising for more than a decade, and the Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade may give that trend a boost.

There’s a movement to use state laws on child endangerment, feticide or murder to arrest women whose pregnancies ended prematurely, reproductive rights lawyers say, and it may be a harbinger of what’s to come.

“There’s going to be a massive increase in cases like these with Roe out of the picture,” says Mary McNamara, a San Francisco lawyer.

Already, about 1,300 women saw arrests or charges in the US from 2006 to 2020 for actions during pregnancy. That’s three times the amount during the 33 years prior, according to the National Advocates for Pregnant Women.

The Supreme Court’s move overturning Roe put into play existing or expected abortion bans in roughly half of US states. Most states don’t currently have laws on the books that punish women directly for having abortions.

But prosecutors have been using — and misusing — existing laws related to drug use in pregnancy, limits on medication abortions, and protection of fetuses to charge women for miscarriages, stillbirths or actions that lead to pregnancy loss. Read more from Patricia Hurtado and Francesca Maglione.

Abortion-Related Workplace Discrimination Still Banned: Pregnancy discrimination laws will continue to protect employees from reproductive health-related discrimination and harassment in the workplace even after the Supreme Court eliminated abortion rights on the federal level.

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade, is expected to have ripple effects for women in the workforce. More workers who might otherwise have had abortions are likely to experience pregnancy-related health impacts that could lead to more leave or disability accommodation requests.

The decision also sets the stage for more challenges from employers that disagree with employees’ reproductive health-care decisions on religious grounds. J. Edward Moreno explains.

Florida 15-Week Abortion Ban Is Back in Effect: Florida’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy is back in effect, after an appeal by the state triggered an automatic freeze on a court ruling blocking the law. A state court judge in Tallahassee on Thursday said he would grant a request by Planned Parenthood for a statewide injunction against the abortion law because it violates the state constitution’s right to privacy. He noted that the injunction would officially take effect with his written order, which was filed Tuesday morning.

The state immediately filed its appeal of the order, which puts the 15-week law back in place for now. Evan Peng has the latest.

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FDA Plans to Hire Amazon’s Vin Gupta as Senior Adviser: The FDA plans to hire Vin Gupta as principal medical adviser to help boost the agency’s public messaging, according to Politico, citing three people with knowledge of the matter, Lauren Dezenski reports. Gupta is currently chief medical officer for new products at Amazon.

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To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michaela Ross at

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