Physicians confused about prescribing cancer treatments to pregnant women

The latest stick thrown in the post-Roe wildfire is cancer treatments for pregnant women, The New York Times reported July 23. 

Every year, there are thousands of pregnant women in the U.S. who are diagnosed with cancer, a majority of whom — 40 percent — are given breast cancer diagnoses. 

In the first trimester, cancer drugs are dangerous for fetuses, creating a dilemma for physicians caring for pregnant cancer patients, according to the Times

"If a doctor can't give a drug without fear of damaging a fetus, is that going to compromise outcomes?" American Society of Clinical Oncology CEO Clifford Hudis, MD, told the Times. "It's a whole new world."

"We are putting physicians in a terrible position," Harvard law professor and bioethicist I. Glenn Cohen said. "I don't think signing up to be a physician should mean signing up to do jail time."

Physicians have raised alarms about the threat to maternal health the overturning of Roe v. Wade has posed over the last few weeks. 

One drug used sometimes prescribed for cancer, methotrexate, has also seen increased scrutiny, due to the fact it can be used to terminate a pregnancy, which has resulted in CVS requiring pharmacists in some states to confirm its use before filling the prescription. 

HHS told the nation's 60,000 retail pharmacies that refusing to fill methotrexate prescriptions, along with other drugs affected by the Supreme Court's ruling, is illegal and discriminatory.

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