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New law would require death certificates for fertilized eggs that never implant in the uterus.
Anti-abortion lawmakers in Pennsylvania want to pass a bill that would require health providers to arrange burials or cremations for all of a person’s “fetal remains,” which under the lawmakers’ terms, includes fertilized eggs that never implanted in the uterus.
But fertilized eggs must divide to become the ball of cells that implants in the uterus for a pregnancy to occur.
The proposed bill also means health providers would have to obtain death certificates for all fertilized, but not implanted, eggs, since in order to to obtain a burial permit, you first have to obtain a death certificate, Christine Castro, a staff attorney at the Pennsylvania-based Women’s Law Project, told Vice. “The bill is written in a misleading way,” she said.
If the bill, known as the “Pennsylvania Final Disposition of Fetal Remains Act,” passes and isn’t followed, it could result in a $50 to $300 fine or up to 30 days in prison for providers.
The problem is women, and even their doctors, can’t track when or how many fertilized eggs don’t implant in the uterus because those eggs typically dissolve in utero and are shed through a woman’s menstrual lining every month, making them undetectable.
It’s common for fertilized eggs to not implant in the uterus
According to University of California San Francisco Health, only half of a woman’s fertilized eggs will naturally implant in her uterus.
The other 50% of those fertilized eggs that don’t implant dissolve in the body and are expelled through a woman’s uterine lining, which she naturally sheds during her menstrual cycle, according to University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health. Newly fertilized eggs are about the size of a pinhead, according to the National Institutes of Health.
When the lining sheds, it results in the bleeding women experience every 28 or so days. Because of this, non-implanted fertilized eggs are neither detectable nor able to become blastocysts, then embryos, then fetuses, and eventually, babies.
The only time a fertilized egg that hasn’t implanted in the uterus is detectable is if a woman has an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when a fertilized egg attaches itself outside the uterus where it can’t grow. In this case, the egg is detectable but must be surgically removed from the woman’s body immediately to prevent health complications like ruptured fallopian tubes, Insider previously reported.
The bill also ignores the science-backed definition of “pregnancy”
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, non-implanted but fertilized eggs are actually single-cell zygotes, which have to divide before becoming the ball of cells called a blastocyst that eventually implant in the wall of the uterus, according to ACOG.
It’s not until a fertilized egg has been successfully implanted in the uterus that ACOG considers it a pregnancy. Once the implanted and fertilized egg reaches nine weeks in the uterus, it is referred to as a fetus, according to ACOG.
This isn’t the first time a pregnancy-related bill has been scientifically inaccurate
Anti-abortion legislators in Ohio also recently presented a scientifically unsound abortion bill.
On November 14, 20 Republican lawmakers proposed an abortion ban that would, in most cases, consider doctors who perform abortions guilty of aggravated murder and require doctors to attempt to reimplant ectopic pregnancies in the uterus, Insider previously reported.
The Ohio proposal ignores the fact that reimplanting an ectopic pregnancy is “physiologically impossible,” Dr. Chris Zahn, the vice president of practice activities at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told Insider. In fact, attempting that is extremely dangerous, and the technology needed to do it doesn’t even exist.