OB/GYN: Jessa Duggar's Life-Saving Procedure Could Be At Risk (But That Seems Lost On Duggars) - Exclusive

What began as a joyous announcement turned into every parent's worst nightmare for one member of the Duggar family. Former "Counting On" star Jessa Duggar Seewald suffered a devastating loss shortly before Christmas 2022. Not long after she and her husband, Ben Seewald, told their four children that a little sister or brother was on the way, Jessa began spotting. An ultrasound ultimately revealed that the baby's heartbeat had stopped. It was her second miscarriage in six pregnancies. In a YouTube video, Jessa admitted: "Honestly, nothing could have prepared me for the weight of those words in that moment."

But it was Jessa's next decision that divided her millions of online followers. Because she had a history of hemorrhaging, Jessa's doctor recommended that she undergo a dilation and curettage (D&C). The in-office procedure clears tissue from the uterus and is performed for a variety of reasons, including after an abortion. Though the reality star was flooded with online messages of sympathy and comfort, other commenters pointed out that with the 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade, women in certain areas are having difficulty obtaining D&Cs in cases of miscarriage. 

"You're lucky you had a 'choice,'" one wrote on the YouTube page. "You weren't sent home to wait it out like some women. ... How do you not see the difference?? You got to choose medical care while other women are sent home due to laws preventing intervention in miscarriages. Your hypocrisy is astounding.

Jessa still maintains a hardline anti-abortion stance

 "19 Kids & Counting" parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar raised their mega-family according to the dictates of a highly conservative Baptist group, and their faith holds that only God can decide whether a child should be born. Their Instagram feed includes photos like the one seen above (Joseph Duggar's T-shirt reads: "I am the generation that will abolish abortion") and this one from a local March for Life event. Both Jim Bob and Jedidiah Duggar have also unsuccessfully run for local office on anti-abortion platforms.

That's why Jessa Duggar Seewald felt obligated to respond to those who argued that her procedure was no different from abortion. "Women have D&Cs for many reasons, not all of which involve killing a living human being," she wrote in the YouTube comments. "The ultrasound revealed that I had a missed miscarriage. My baby's heart had stopped beating 3 weeks before I had a D&C." To clear up the confusion, The List reached out to North Dakota-based obstetrician Alan Lindemann, M.D., creator of Pregnancy Your Way

As he explained, "Whether Jessa's recent procedure is considered a D&C or an abortion is a misunderstanding of medical definitions." Jessa's D&C was what's known as a "therapeutic" abortion: A removal of fetal tissue in a case where the fetus is no longer viable. "Jessa was not terminating a life," Dr. Lindemann clarified. By contrast, an "elective" abortion is performed for non-medical reasons, and the fetus may still be viable. 

Some women may not be given Jessa's choice

Despite her heartbreaking experience, Jessa Duggar Seewald has made it clear that she still opposes abortion in cases where a heartbeat is detectable, even if the baby has no chance of survival. "There's a world of difference between someone dying and someone being killed," she wrote on Facebook. "To equate one to the other — and to a mother grieving the loss of her baby no less — is severely distasteful." Some followers are disappointed that the experience hasn't changed Jessa's views, particularly in light of the new restrictions on pregnancy. 

Texas has enacted a stringent "heartbeat law" that prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, except in medical emergencies. Some women may not even realize they are pregnant until it is too late for an elective abortion. Lawsuit-fearing Texas doctors are therefore refusing to perform D&Cs unless the patient provides one or more ultrasounds to prove the fetus's lack of heartbeat. Because of this, Texas women in Jessa's situation may be forced to let their miscarriages occur naturally, putting them at risk of life-threatening complications.

This worries OB/GYN Dr. Alan Lindemann. He theorizes that in a worst-case scenario, anyone could accuse a woman of having an illegal abortion, and even mothers like Jessa who have a D&C to complete a miscarriage could be prosecuted and punished. "There is no way to win, therefore most women and most doctors are worried," he warned The List exclusively. "The deck is stacked with uncertainty."