Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, each day brings to light a new, terrifying consequence of the decision to return abortion laws to the states. Last week, a Kansas City health system temporarily stopped giving emergency contraceptives to pregnant victims of rape and incest, and over the weekend, a 10-year old girl in Ohio was forced to travel across state lines to access a legal abortion. Now, people who can get pregnant and who suffer from conditions like lupus, arthritis, and even long covid are being denied the medications they rely on.
“After 2 pharmacies refused to fill my methotrexate rx, I am now getting a message from my rheumatologists office that they won’t be prescribing methotrexate for me anymore bc it’s an abortifacient. This is a life saving drug for me. Failing to understand the pro life logic here,” one Twitter user said.
“Joining the choir of women who have now had their methotrexate (which i have to take to you know…not die) refills denied bc it is considered an abortifacient & am begging someone, anyone, to explain to me — like i’m a tiny lil fetus — how this fits into the pro-life narrative,” vented another.
Health experts have confirmed that Methotrexate, a drug used to treat arthritis, lupus, other rheumatic diseases and, in significant doses, certain cancers, has recently become increasingly arduous to access for some patients in states that are seeking to limit or ban abortions, including Texas, Virginia, and Tennessee.
According to the Mayo Clinic, methotrexate has rarely been used to end unwanted pregnancies, though it is used to treat ectopic pregnancies, which produces an unviable fetus that develops outside of the uterus. (A medical abortion with methotrexate, however, must be completed within seven weeks of the first day of a patient’s last period.)
The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has said it is closely following the emerging issue for patients with autoimmune diseases like arthritis and lupus and asking anyone experiencing difficulty accessing their medication to be in contact. Three leading arthritis nonprofits have also begun collecting patient stories in an effort to organize a response for those in need. The ACR released the following statement:
The ACR opposes any action which interferes with the practice of evidence-based medicine or intrudes upon the doctor-patient relationship. Pregnancy often complicates the management of women with rheumatic diseases and may threaten the life of the mother. Rheumatologists and other rheumatology professionals must be able to provide the best evidence-based care and guidance for all of their patients.
A Virginia woman on Monday tweeted that she’d been denied a prescription for a low dose of naltrexone—a medication to treat alcohol and opiate use that has recently been prescribed to those suffering from long covid—because it has been said to increase the likelihood of miscarriages. However, multiple medical reports have confirmed that while that might be true for animals, low dose naltrexone has actually increased the likelihood of fertility for humans.
These denials of life-saving and life-improving medication are state-sanctioned attempts to illegally regulate birthing bodies. Not only do they defy logic and science, they set a dangerous precedent for refusing people critical care.