You may have heard that Texas enacted a six-week ban on abortion in 2021, and that other states have begun attempting to pass copycat laws. You also may have heard many people remarking that 6 weeks is "before many people even know they are pregnant." But do you know why that is?
Dr. Lauren Ralph, Associate Professor in the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) program at UCSF, recently published research that found that 1 in 3 people discover pregnancy past six weeks or later, and almost 2 in 3 young people discover pregnancy past six weeks or later.
She is on the podcast today to explain WHY many people don't know they are pregnant until after 6 weeks, and which groups of people are most disproportionately harmed by laws that ban abortion early in pregnancy.
She also explains the confusing math that the OB/GYN field uses to count weeks of pregnancy, which means that "6 weeks pregnant" actually means 6 weeks from the first day of your last period - so if your subsequent period is just a week late, you're already technically at 5 weeks pregnant.
Dr. Ralph's breakdown of this funky math will show you how state bans like this act basically as TOTAL bans on abortion, because it would be extremely difficult to be able to schedule and obtain an abortion in a state that passed this type of law before the 6-week mark.
As we approach what may be the end of Roe v. Wade if the Supreme Court decides to overturn it in June 2022, understanding the current impact of 6-week abortion bans gives us a glimpse into the the catastrophic effects that a probable overturning Roe would have on the health and wellbeing of people with uteruses across the country.
- Transcript of episode (computer-generated, so not perfect but good enough!)
- Dr. Ralph's research published in the Journal of Contraception (November 2021): Home pregnancy test use and timing of pregnancy confirmation among people seeking health care