Post-Dobbs, the fear is visceral. What was once personal, private, and one hoped, protected within the presumptively confidential space of the doctor-patient relationship, feels exposed. In response to all this fear, the Internet exploded – delete your period tracker; use encrypted apps; don’t take a pregnancy test. The Biden administration too, chimed in, just days after the Supreme Court’s decision, issuing guidance seeking to reassure both doctors and patients that the federal Health Privacy Rule (HIPAA) was robust and that reproductive health information would remain private. Given the history of women being prosecuted for their reproductive choices and the enormous holes in HIPAA that have long allowed prosecutors to rely on healthcare information as the basis for criminal charges, these assurances rang hollow (as detailed at length in our forthcoming article, HIPAA v. Dobbs). From a health care policy perspective, what is different now is not what might happen. All of this has been happening for decades. The only difference today is the sheer number of people affected and paying attention.
The Health Law, Policy, Bioethics, and Biotechnology Workshop provides a forum for discussion of new scholarship in these fields from the world’s leading experts. Though the Workshop is typically open to the public, it is not currently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many of our presenters will contribute blog posts summarizing their work, which we are happy to share here on Bill of Health.
By Greer Donley and Jill Wieber Lens
In the summer of 2020, celebrity Chrissy Teigen shared her son’s stillbirth with her tens of millions of followers on social media, including photos of her agony at her son’s simultaneous birth and death.
Teigen and her husband, John Legend, are noted supporters of abortion rights. After Jack’s death, Planned Parenthood tweeted its condolences: “We’re so sorry to hear that Chrissy Teigen and John Legend lost their son, and we admire them for sharing their story.”
Backlash was swift, accusing both Teigen and Planned Parenthood of hypocrisy, questioning how one could believe abortion involves only a “clump of cells,” yet grieve a pregnancy loss.
This anecdote perfectly highlights the perceived conflict between pregnancy loss and abortion rights — that any recognition of loss in the context of stillbirth or miscarriage could cause a slippery slope to fetal personhood.
Last week Alabama passed the most restrictive abortion law in the country, criminalizing abortion of “any woman known to be pregnant,” with very limited exceptions that do not include rape or incest. But a recent case in Alabama presents an even more threatening challenge to reproductive rights.
In a new paper published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, authors Dov Fox, Eli Y. Adashi, and I. Glenn Cohen, discuss a recent Alabama state court case involving a man suing an abortion clinic and the manufacturer of a pill that enabled his then-girlfriend to terminate her pregnancy at 6 weeks.
In a troubling decision, the court permitted the fetus be a co-plaintiff alongside the man in a “wrongful death” lawsuit. Read More