October 27, 2023 opinion

Denying treatment because women could get pregnant? That’s a new level of toxic absurdity

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Sofiya Tkachenko in Vienna, Austria

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July 2, 2022. Protest in solidarity with American women in Melbourne, Australia.

Picture by: Matt Hrkac | Flickr

Since 2022, news from America has terrified women all around the world.

According to The New York Times, after the US Supreme Court overturned the Roe vs Wade ruling, which has protected the right of choice since 1973, 21 states have introduced partial or complete bans on abortion, including cases when pregnancy endangers a woman’s life or health.

An example is the recent court ruling from Nebraska, where Jessica Burgess was sentenced to two years in prison for helping her at the time 17-year-old daughter, Celeste, get an abortion after the 20th week, which was illegal in that state.

If one thinks that convicting a woman for a simple choice about her future and her well-being is absurd, one should read about what happened in the state of New York.

A new absurd record is being set there: 32 year-old actress and influencer Tara Rule sued a hospital for refusing her medication because she was of ‘childbearing age’.

The complaint made by Rule describes how she was turned down by a hospital in Glenn Falls after a request to treat her cluster headaches, a condition that is considered to be one of the most painful known to medical science.

She stated she was told that the existing safe medicine could not be prescribed for her, as her insurance does not cover care that could cause birth defects.

Rule told the doctor that she had a prescription for Cellcept – another medication, with the same side effects, on which her medical insurance covered. The doctor argued that the side effects differed. Rule asked him to read those out, which proved she was right.

The doctor’s next question was what Rule planned to do in case of becoming pregnant. She answered: Get an abortion.

Rule published on TikTok a clip describing the situation, which went viral. According to her, she was instructed by the neurologist to ‘really think’ about taking Cellcept and to discuss it with her partner – to which Rule answered that her partner had a vasectomy and they did not plan to have children.

Finally, the doctor turned the patient away, stating that she would be denied treatment as long as she is of birth-giving age, no matter her wishes or the methods of contraception she used.

A week later, Rule arrived at the hospital’s emergency room. In the complaint, she stated that she was ‘crying, sweating, shaking, and with heightened blood pressure and pulse due to the pain’.

She received treatment that did not stabilise and was discharged due to “live streaming.” Rule protested, but was escorted off the hospital’s premises – according to her, at the time she was asked to leave she still was ‘high on the pain scale and records indicate her blood pressure and pulse were still abnormally high’.

Although the case is yet to be heard, the hospital did not deny that its doctor refused her treatment because he aimed to protect Rule’s potential to give birth.

This would amount to discrimination because a highly unlikely pregnancy and a child that has not yet been conceived cannot be more important than the health of a living and breathing woman in need of immediate care.

Read also:

It is teenage girls who will be affected the most by abortion bans in the US

Not only is having children not mandatory but also parenthood is about so much more than just how the life of the child plays out. Simple logic suggests the opposite: as the child will be dependent on the mother, the protection of the parent should come first.

The world should be a safe environment for women of all ages and all lifestyles. Women cannot be stripped of basic services, like healthcare, because of their so-called ‘function’, and the word ‘woman’ should not be synonymous with ‘mother’.

How long will it take for motherhood not to be forced on women and perceived as something coming from their choice and wellbeing?

Written by:

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Sofiya Tkachenko

former Editor-in-chief

Kyiv, Ukraine | Vienna, Austria

Born in 2006, Sofiya is originally from Kyiv, Ukraine, but now, because of the war, she has relocated to Vienna, Austria. She is interested in writing about culture and politics, especially the current situation in Ukraine and the world as a whole, but is planning on studying Biology in Vienna next year. 

Sofiya joined Harbingers’ Magazine as a contributor in the spring of 2022. A few months later, she took on the role of the social media and the Harbingers’ Weekly Brief newsletter editor. After half a year, her devotion and hard work promoted her to the position of editor-in-chief of the magazine – in September 2023, she took the helm from Sofia Radysh, who stepped down having completed her one-year term.

In her spare time, Sofiya organises charity poetry events and is working on multiple projects regarding the promotion of Ukrainian culture in Europe.

She speaks Ukrainian, English, Russian, and a bit of German.

 

Edited by:

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Aleksandra Lasek

Human Rights Section Editor

Warsaw, Poland

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