Tennessee Woman Loses Ovary After Being Denied Abortion

Breanna Cecil, a 34-year-old Tennessee woman, was denied an abortion despite her fetus having a fatal condition, forcing her to carry the pregnancy to term. She later underwent multiple surgeries, including the removal of an ovary and fallopian tube, due to complications.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Tennessee Woman Loses Ovary After Being Denied Abortion

Tennessee Woman Loses Ovary After Being Denied Abortion

Breanna Cecil, a 34-year-old Tennessee woman, was denied an abortion despite her fetus having a fatal condition called acrania, where the fetus has no skull bones. Due to the state's near-total abortion ban, which makes no exceptions for fatal fetal conditions, Cecil was forced to carry the pregnancy to term, resulting in her losing an ovary and a fallopian tube.

Why this matters: This case highlights the devastating consequences of restrictive abortion laws on women's health and reproductive rights, and underscores the need for policymakers to consider the real-life impact of such laws on individuals. It also raises concerns about the erosion of reproductive autonomy and the potential for similar laws to be enacted in other states.

In January 2023, Cecil's fetus was diagnosed with acrania at 12 weeks pregnant. Despite the fatal condition, Cecil was denied an abortion in Tennessee due to the state's near-total ban. On February 3, 2023, Cecil traveled to Chicago for an abortion, where doctors performed a dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure.

However, on February 9, 2023, Cecil experienced a fever and back pain, leading to another ultrasound that revealed retained tissue from the fetus. On February 17, 2023, doctors performed another D&C on Cecil. Two days later, Cecil returned to the hospital with a 9-centimeter abscess in her abdomen, requiring emergency surgery to remove her right ovary and fallopian tube.

Cecil, who had been trying to conceive with her husband for nearly a year before becoming pregnant with the fetus with acrania, expressed her anguish, stating, "The state of Tennessee took my fertility from me." She added, "State lawmakers took away my opportunity to have a family like my own biological family because of these horrible laws that they put in place."

Cecil's pregnancy was starting to show, making it difficult for her to handle well-intentioned questions about the baby's due date and sex. She has been unable to become pregnant since her third D&C procedure. Cecil is now fighting for abortion rights, joining a group of women represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) who were denied abortions.

Tennessee's near-total abortion ban, which took effect in August 2022, criminalizes physicians who perform the procedure outside of the allowed exceptions. The law makes no specific exceptions for fatal fetal conditions like acrania. Cecil's case highlights the devastating consequences of such restrictive abortion laws on women's health and reproductive rights.

Breanna Cecil's experience underscores the need for abortion laws to consider individual circumstances and the potential impact on pregnant people's health. As she continues to fight for abortion rights, Cecil's story serves as a stark reminder of the real-life consequences of denying access to essential reproductive healthcare.

Key Takeaways

  • Breanna Cecil, 34, was denied an abortion in Tennessee despite her fetus having a fatal condition.
  • She was forced to carry the pregnancy to term, resulting in the loss of an ovary and fallopian tube.
  • Tennessee's near-total abortion ban makes no exceptions for fatal fetal conditions like acrania.
  • Cecil's case highlights the devastating consequences of restrictive abortion laws on women's health.
  • Cecil is now fighting for abortion rights, joining a group of women represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights.