The Pregnancy Test: Cancer Treatment in a Post-Roe America


A lady receives a dose of trastuzumab, a focused most cancers drug and likewise identified by different names akin to Herceptin, Herzuma and Ontruzant. It’s a remedy for early and superior breast most cancers. (Karen Apricot / Flickr)

On the morning of Could 2, within the hours earlier than the Supreme Courtroom draft hanging down Roe v. Wade was leaked to the press, I sat ready for a 30-minute infusion of Herceptin. Herceptin, one of many important medication I used to be prescribed final yr once I was recognized with breast most cancers, is a focused remedy given together with chemo to deal with early-stage HER2+ breast most cancers.

This type of most cancers is especially aggressive, and Herceptin is a revolutionary and profoundly efficient remedy that has reworked the prognosis for girls with this analysis. I acquired it together with chemotherapy earlier than present process surgical procedure, and skilled what medical doctors describe as a pathologic full response. In different phrases, my tumor disappeared fully. My entry to Herceptin is undoubtedly why I skilled a superb consequence.

Whereas Herceptin has saved countless women’s lives for the reason that first human medical trial was carried out at UCLA in 1990, it might probably cause fetal harm.

It was this potential danger which prompted my infusion to be delayed on that fateful morning. Even though my clear bag of Herceptin was inside attain of my beige medical recliner and able to be hung from my IV stand, and although my important lab outcomes—together with my white blood cell and platelet counts—had already are available, my HCG portions had been delayed. 

Testing for HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) within the blood can detect being pregnant about 11 days after conception. I knew two issues that made a being pregnant take a look at pointless:

  1. I used to be not pregnant.
  2. If I used to be pregnant, I’d select to terminate.

I defined this to my nurse and requested to start my infusion with out ready on the outcomes. I used to be denied.

Thirty minutes glided by, then 45. An hour later, I once more requested to waive the take a look at. I provided to signal a launch of legal responsibility in order that I might proceed with my remedy and transfer on with my day. Once more, I used to be denied. 

It might sound a mere inconvenience to attend an additional hour or two to obtain an infusion. However my expertise that morning reveals the dire penalties of putting the well-being of a fetus (on this case a hypothetical fetus) over the well-being of a lady. Why was I denied medical care—even briefly—till I might show I wasn’t pregnant? The place was my company on this state of affairs? This is only one instance of the far-flung penalties of overturning Roe, of criminalizing abortion and of typically limiting ladies’s proper to manipulate their very own our bodies.

Why was I denied medical care—even briefly—till I might show I wasn’t pregnant? The place was my company on this state of affairs?

If I had been within the early phases of a being pregnant initially of remedy, a delayed dose of Herceptin might have meant the distinction between my fast-growing most cancers remaining native or metastasizing additional. Through the practically two hours that I waited, I questioned what would have occurred if my being pregnant take a look at was optimistic. Would I’ve been denied the very drug that saved my life and which protects my future—which ensures that my younger youngsters will proceed to have a mom—in an effort to shield a being pregnant I didn’t need or plan to maintain?

When my nurse sheepishly returned with my outcomes—adverse for being pregnant—and began my infusion, I requested her. She instructed me that my infusion would doubtless have been canceled.  


I occur to stay in California, the place I’d be capable to terminate a being pregnant and prioritize my most cancers remedy. However what’s going to occur to the newly pregnant girl with my analysis in Arkansas or Louisiana, Oklahoma or Texas, or the various different states with set off bans, six-week bans, or whole bans? In a post-Roe America, ladies in additional than half of U.S. states merely gained’t have that proper. They are going to be compelled to hold a being pregnant that dangerously limits their important healthcare choices. 

Would I’ve been denied the very drug that saved my life and which protects my future—which ensures that my younger youngsters will proceed to have a mom—in an effort to shield a being pregnant I didn’t need or plan to maintain?

When the Supreme Courtroom reversed the 1973 ruling on Roe v. Wade and returned the problem of the suitable to entry abortion providers to the states, the American Most cancers Society launched this statement

“When somebody receives a most cancers analysis, it’s important they obtain fast care. As much as one in 1,000 pregnant ladies every year obtain a most cancers analysis. We all know well timed most cancers remedy improves an individual’s possibilities of survivorship. As some states sign a willpower to outline personhood at fertilization, we’re involved about potential threats to a pregnant girl’s capability to obtain fast most cancers remedy. Each affected person ought to be capable to improve their chance to outlive most cancers by having the choice to begin most cancers remedy instantly, no matter being pregnant standing.”

It isn’t simply most cancers care that shall be delayed or denied by this reckless decision. Criminalizing abortion is already putting women in grave danger, and far of the medical group is deeply involved about how the choice will delay or prevent life-saving procedures in harmful circumstances akin to ectopic being pregnant and extreme preeclampsia. Because the ACOG has stated, “Abortion bans—even these with exceptions for ectopic being pregnant—can generate confusion for sufferers and healthcare professionals and can lead to delays to remedy. Healthcare professionals ought to by no means need to navigate imprecise authorized or statutory language to find out whether or not the legislation permits them to train their skilled judgment and supply evidence-based care.”

Dr. Iffath A. Hoskins, president of ACOG, predicts that legal guidelines banning abortion—even people who embrace exceptions for when the lifetime of the father or mother is as danger—will “go away physicians trying over our shoulders, questioning if a affected person is in sufficient of a disaster to allow an exception. It leaves them fearing that the evidence-based care that they’re offering is leaving them vulnerable to self-discipline, punishment, lawsuits, lack of license and felony penalty.” The lack of protected and authorized abortion will imply the distinction between life and loss of life for innumerable ladies.

It’s been over 10 weeks now since my delayed infusion, and practically three weeks since SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade, ending 50 years of federal abortion rights. I’m practically completed with my year-long course of remedy, and I’m cancer-free. However, I’m not free. 

No American girl is.

Sign and share Ms.’s relaunched “We Have Had Abortions” petition—whether or not you your self have had an abortion, or just stand in solidarity with those that have—to let the Supreme Courtroom, Congress and the White Home know: We is not going to quit the suitable to protected, authorized, accessible abortion.

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