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Missouri Anti-Abortion Bill Sows Confusion Over Ectopic Pregnancies

They occur when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, are not viable and potentially life-threatening

The Missouri State Capitol Building in Jefferson City. 

The Missouri State Capitol Building in Jefferson City. 

Photographer: Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images
Updated on

State lawmakers around the country are ramping up efforts to curtail abortion in all forms. But one Missouri bill in particular is drawing ire for criminalizing the use of certain drugs to treat ectopic pregnancies, which are not viable and potentially life-threatening. Here's a quick rundown on the medical issues associated with the condition and how it fits into the current abortion debate.

What is an ectopic pregnancy?
Ectopic pregnancies occur when a fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tube or anywhere else outside of the uterus. They occur at a rate of 19.7 cases per 1,000 pregnancies in North America and are the leading cause of maternal mortality in the first trimester, according to a study published by American Family Physician. If left untreated, they can rupture internal tissue, cause heavy bleeding and pose significant health risks.