DAVIE, Fla. – The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has some experts believing there could be a number of unintended negative consequences reaching far outside the scope of the abortion debate.
“If we now have a legal regime where life and rights begin at conception, all kinds of things that we used to take for granted might suddenly become the focus of law and litigation,” said University of Miami School of Law Professor Caroline Mala Corbin.
Corbin is a constitutional scholar with an expertise in reproductive rights. She told Local 10 News on Tuesday the extent of the collateral damage will be determined by how strict each individual state decides to make their abortion laws. In the states with the most restrictive laws, she believes we could see legal battles over things like in vitro fertilization.
“There are often fertilized eggs involved in it and sometimes the disposal of them. So, how that plays out, that’s an open question,” she said.
Corbin also points out that miscarriages are often referred to as “spontaneous abortions,” and in states with particularly aggressive regulations, she worries women who have miscarriages could be investigated for having an illegal abortion, adding even more stress to an already traumatizing experience.
Then there is the concern about medical research, and how some studies that have nothing to do with abortion can be derailed by the SCOTUS decision.
One of those such studies is being done by Dr. Nancy Klimas, the Director of the Institute for Neuro-Immune Medicine at Nova Southeastern University, who has spent years working on finding a way to help military veterans suffering from Gulf War Illness.
“They’re sick because they had a tremendous amount of toxic exposures when they were there,” said Dr. Klimas. “It was a perfect storm of pesticides, sarin exposures, the oil fires, it was misery. They were only there for a short period of time, but they became very ill and stayed that way.”
Dr. Klimas recently found a combination of two FDA-approved drugs that seems to help alleviate the symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome. In fact, in trials on animals, it cured them completely. One of the medications is etanercept, better known as Enbrel, which is often used to treat arthritis, and the other is mifepristone, commonly known as one of the pills used in abortions.
In the study, Dr. Klimas and her team have participants (20 men in their 50′s and 60′s) take Enbrel for about a month to reduce inflammation in the brain, and then mifepristone for a week to block a part of the adrenal gland and “ask the body to reboot the part of the body that controls inflammation,” explained Dr. Klimas.
The problem is, because mifepristone is most well-known as an abortion drug, it’s heavily regulated.
“It’s such a political drug, that’s the problem,” said Dr. Klimas. “Congress, because it’s totally focused on abortion, initially made it very difficult for anyone to get to this drug and we could only actually get to it through hospital pharmacies.”
She was eventually able to work with the VA Hospital in Miami to get the drug, but worries if it is regulated even further at the state or federal levels, the study could be totally derailed.
“If they literally pull the drug from the market, which would be horrible for us, we’re in trouble,” said Dr. Klimas. “The worry is that we would do all of this work and have such a promising drug and then lose the ability to roll it out to the veterans who are so ill.”
Veterans interested in this or other Gulf War Illness-related studies can reach out to the researchers at Zb84@nova.edu or (305) 575-7000, ext. 14217.