Category archives: Abortion

Despite Roe Polling, a Majority of Americans Support Stronger Abortion Restrictions

by Laura Grossberndt , Katherine Beck Johnson , Ruth Moreno

October 23, 2020

Opinion polls reveal some cognitive dissonance in Americans’ minds concerning abortion laws. Although most Americans say they support Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, most also favor significant abortion restrictions. Why the seeming inconsistency?

First, some background. In Roe, the Supreme Court ruled that abortion is protected under the U.S. Constitution. This decision struck down many state laws that had restricted abortion. It also severely limited the extent to which states could write their own abortion laws. The Court correlated the permissibility of different kinds of abortions to the three trimesters of pregnancy:

  • First trimester: States cannot restrict abortion.
  • Second trimester: Regulations designed to protect a pregnant woman’s health, but not to further a state’s interest in potential life, are permitted.
  • Third trimester: States can completely outlaw abortion, except when “necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”

Under Roe, no restrictions on abortion in the second or third trimesters are mandated and are forbidden in the first trimester. Therefore, abortion through all nine months of pregnancy is the default unless Congress or the individual states pass laws restricting it.

Planned Parenthood v. Casey did away with Roe’s trimester framework and created a new rule: a state cannot impose an “undue burden” on a woman’s attempt to obtain an abortion pre-viability.

National polls indicate strong support for Roe. Sixty percent (Gallup) and 66 percent (NBC News) of Americans support it, while only 29 percent of Americans favor overturning it (NBC News). Roe, then, appears to be a settled court case in the minds of the American people.

However, polls indicate a greater variation in Americans’ opinions when it comes to abortion itself. Only 27 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal “in all cases” (ABC News by Langer Research Associates), and seven in 10 Americans would like to see abortion limited to the first three months of pregnancy at most (Knights of Columbus and Marist). The latter poll found that 52 percent of Americans think women should be required to see an ultrasound of her unborn child prior to receiving an abortion. Furthermore, the poll found that 80 percent of Americans think laws can protect both a mother and her unborn child.

A mere 18 percent of Americans support the legalization of abortion up until birth (NPR and Marist), and 54 percent want to see more restrictions on abortion than there currently are (CBS). Sixty-five percent of Americans support a required 24-hour waiting period for an abortion (The Kaiser Family Foundation). Like the Knights of Columbus and Marist poll, the Kaiser poll found that 52 percent support a mandatory ultrasound viewing by mothers.

Why this seeming inconsistency between the American public’s opinions on Roe and abortion itself? Tim Carney of the American Enterprise Institute posits an answer: a poll’s outcome depends on how the survey questions are asked. Many Americans are unaware of what Roe actually says about abortion, mistakenly believing that it only protects abortion through the first few months of pregnancy. When asked whether they would like to see Roe overturned, most Americans say no, because most Americans are neither entirely pro-life nor pro-choice. Instead, most Americans favor abortion laws that restrict most abortions but provide exceptions for early-term abortions, abortions in cases of rape or incest, or when the mother’s health or life is in grave danger.

Roe v. Wade permits abortion in far more circumstances than these. If survey respondents knew that Roe essentially allows abortion in all cases at any stage in pregnancy up to the moment of birth, support for the court decision would probably plummet among Americans with more moderate views. Americans’ ignorance serves the pro-choice lobby and is likely why polls indicate public support for Roe.

As long as the largely pro-choice mainstream media can convince moderates that Roe v. Wade aligns with their beliefs, the Supreme Court will feel pressured into upholding its 1973 decision despite the fact that it goes against the will of the American people.

To see where your state stacks up on permitting later-term abortion under Roe, see our state-by-state pro-life map.

The Strange Cognitive Dissonance of the Democrats on Life

by Katherine Beck Johnson

October 15, 2020

The final day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing consisted of witnesses. The Republican and Democratic senators of the Senate Judiciary Committee each called upon individuals who expressed their personal opinions on why or why not Barrett should be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

The Republicans called upon former clerks, students, and colleagues of Judge Barrett. Each spoke highly of Barrett’s intellect, compassion, and legal skills. In contrast, the Democratic witnesses all opined on the danger they thought a Justice Barrett would pose to the country.

One of the Democratic witnesses, Crystal Good, described herself as a “reproductive rights advocate.” She spoke about her experience being pregnant as a 16-year-old and going to court to obtain an abortion without parental consent. Sadly, Good claimed that killing her unborn child allowed her to take control of her life. She went on to say that Barrett’s confirmation would prevent abortions that millions of women rely on each year.

The next witness the Democrats called was Stacy Staggs, a mother of twins born prematurely. The larger twin weighed just two pounds at birth, while the smaller twin was under two pounds. The twin girls spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and Staggs was unable to hold her daughters for weeks. In her testimony, Staggs spoke about the necessity of her children being provided health care. She alleged a Justice Barrett would take away the necessary health care that saved her children’s lives.

Are the Democrats aware of the cognitive dissonance these two testimonies create? One witness asserted that she should have the right to end her unborn child’s life. The subsequent witness detailed how she fought for the lives of her premature children. One witness denied the humanity of the unborn, while the subsequent witness acknowledged the humanity of these precious little lives. This cognitive dissonance should not be surprising. Democrats claim to care about the health and wellbeing of children. However, in addition to supporting the termination of life in the womb, Democrats in Congress have repeatedly blocked legislation that would ensure medical care to children born alive after a failed abortion. It’s clear that the Democrats only value life when that life is wanted.

A child’s right to life should not depend on whether the parents want him or her. Life is an inherent human right. The aforementioned testimonies at the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett demonstrate that Democrats only want to protect the right to life of children who are wanted. This picking and choosing which children “deserve” life must end.

Ted Cruz is Right: Certain FDA-approved Birth Control Can Cause Abortions

by Laura Grossberndt , Ruth Moreno

October 15, 2020

During the second day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearing, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asked the Supreme Court nominee about threats to religious liberty. Cruz correctly pointed out that certain kinds of birth control pills induce abortion and criticized the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) attempt to fine religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor “in order to force them to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, among others.”

Planned Parenthood responded to Sen. Cruz’s remarks with a tweet contradicting Cruz and asserting that birth control cannot cause an abortion.

Despite mainstream media outlets framing the situation as Planned Parenthood “correcting” Sen. Cruz, it is actually Planned Parenthood who is in the wrong. Cruz referred to abortion-inducing drugs, “among others.” Of course, not all forms of birth control cause abortions. However, some do, including the notorious “morning-after pill” Plan B and a newer, lesser-known FDA-approved drug called Ella (also known as ulipristal acetate or Ella-One).

The FDA misleadingly labels Ella a more effective “Emergency Contraception.” Like Plan B, Ella can cause an abortion by preventing a fertilized egg (embryo) from implanting in the uterus. But unlike Plan B, Ella can also terminate a pregnancy after the embryo has already implanted. It does this by starving the embryo of a chemical known as progesterone, which the embryo needs in order to continue developing inside the uterus. By inhibiting progesterone, Ella functions similarly to the “abortion pill” mifepristone (also known as Mifeprex or RU-486), which is used to end the lives of babies in the first trimester. Like mifepristone, Ella can induce abortions both pre- and post-implantation.

Numerous studies reported by the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) show that Ella causes abortions in animals, including macaques, close relatives to monkeys. Researchers have also concluded that just a 30-milligram dose of Ella will abort human babies.

Ella’s proponents claim that the drug will not interfere with pregnancy because it is only approved for use within five days of sexual intercourse, and implantation usually occurs six to 10 days after fertilization. Although Ella’s online provider, Project Ruby, requires a prescription, it does not require an in-person examination from a doctor prior to purchase. Planned Parenthood itself attempts to create confusion by calling Ella a type of “morning-after pill” when, in reality, the pill can be taken for several days after having intercourse.

Planned Parenthood should get its fact straight before criticizing Sen. Cruz’s valid concerns about abortifacient drugs and the federal government’s attempts to force religious groups to pay for them. By propagating the lie that birth control is always contraceptive and never abortifacient, Planned Parenthood continues to mislead countless women about their options before and after becoming pregnant. Women have the right to know what drugs can do to their own bodies and those of their unborn children.

Planned Parenthood is also failing to treat a complex discussion about health care and religious liberty with appropriate nuance. Fortunately, the court case involving the ACA and the Little Sisters of the Poor was decided in support of the Little Sisters’ right to freedom of conscience. However, many of our nation’s officials, both elected and unelected, would have liked to see the case settled differently. Religious liberty is the most fundamental right enshrined in the First Amendment, but it is under attack from those who would rather see an overbearing federal government force religious organizations, like the Little Sisters of the Poor, to violate their consciences.

Ruth Moreno is a Policy and Government Affairs intern focusing on federal legislative affairs, with a concentration on pro-life issues.

Roe Isn’t Super … or Super-Precedent

by Katherine Beck Johnson

October 13, 2020

In the second day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearing, many members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, particularly Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), questioned the Supreme Court nominee about the concept of “super-precedent.” Barrett has previously written that seven cases are currently understood by legal academics as super-precedent, including Brown v. Board of Education. She defined super-precedent as “cases that no justice would overrule, even if she disagrees with the interpretative premises from which the precedent proceeds.” Barrett said at the hearing that, according to this definition, Roe v. Wade does not qualify as super-precedent.

When asked why Brown is super-precedent and Roe is not, Barrett explained that Brown is super-precedent because the Supreme Court decided that the “separate but equal doctrine” is unconstitutional and because the American people have accepted the Court’s decision as settled law. Segregation is a horrible stain on our nation’s history. Thankfully, it is now accepted that racism and segregation is a moral evil that will no longer be tolerated in our country. Because there are no legal challenges advocating for segregation, Brown is clearly settled law.

Barrett said Roe does not qualify as super-precedent because the American people have not accepted this Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in all 50 states. She is right. Many American people believe abortion is a moral evil that should not be tolerated in our country. The Republican Party platform supports a human life amendment to the Constitution clarifying that the unborn are protected by the 14th Amendment. The March for Life, which draws hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country, takes place every January in Washington, D.C. on the anniversary of Roe.  

Quite significantly, a number of states have passed strong pro-life laws in recent years, and there are also numerous lawsuits currently challenging abortion.

Last year, Alabama passed a comprehensive law affirming and protecting human life at all stages—a model for how to fully protect life. States have defunded abortion and abortionists. Other states like Colorado are proposing ballot measures to protect life this fall. Certain states like Nebraska have passed dismemberment bans, and others have passed laws protecting the dignity of the remains of the unborn. Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Ohio have all passed heartbeat bills. These bills seek to prohibit abortion when a heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy. States have passed laws that aim to protect the targeting of children with Down syndrome in the womb or other special needs. States have passed laws protecting children from being aborted simply because of their race or gender. The eugenic act of ending children’s lives based on their identity is another reason why many Americans refuse to accept Roe as settled law.

By contrast, no major party has a platform advocating for segregation. No states are calling for segregation to be legalized. There is no annual march in support of segregation. The notion of “separate but equal” is viewed by Americans as being unconstitutional. Therefore, Brown deserves to be deemed super-precedent.

While our country has overcome the evil of segregation, the stain of abortion is still with us. Many Americans long for a day when abortion’s unconstitutionality is settled law, and the most vulnerable among us are protected under the law. Until that day, we will continue to fight for the unborn to have the right to life. As long as Americans refuse to accept it, Roe will remain unsettled law that does not deserve to be considered super-precedent. Judge Amy Coney Barrett is correct when she says Roe v. Wade is not super-precedent.

House Resolution Coerces Members to Support Abortion Rights

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Ruth Moreno

October 9, 2020

Earlier this month, a former employee at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Georgia filed a complaint to the Department of Homeland Security, alleging that hysterectomies were being performed on detainees at the Irwin County Detention Center without appropriate informed consent. The U.S. House of Representatives has responded by passing a resolution condemning all perpetrators and calling for them to be held accountable.

House Resolution 1153, led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), justly condemns the performance of “unwanted, unnecessary medical procedures on individuals without their full, informed consent.” Unfortunately, House Democrats couldn’t resist inserting partisan language into what ought to have been a straightforward and bipartisan resolution. The resolution’s second clause states that “everyone deserves to control their own reproductive choices and make informed choices about their bodies.” This begs the question: to what kinds of reproductive choices is the clause referring? The Democrat-controlled House most likely intends the so-called “right” to abortion, ignoring the rights of the unborn in the same breath as condemning ICE for violating the rights of women.

This resolution would not be the first time Democrats have embraced antithetical positions regarding human rights violations and abortion. Although Democrats insist human rights and abortion are one and the same, abortion is the very opposite of human rights, because every successful abortion ends a human life. It should also be noted that the abortion industry, which has long backed Democrat candidates, has a troubled history with eugenics. Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, was a eugenicist who viewed abortion and birth control as a means of controlling the population of the “unfit.” While Planned Parenthood’s current leadership may publicly disavow eugenics, many of its abortion facilities are situated in minority communities, and women of color are statistically much more likely to obtain abortions in the U.S. than white women.

Democrats are also slow to condemn the atrocity of forced abortion, which happens in many nations around the world, including the most populous country, China. Even here in America, many women who obtain abortions report having felt coerced into that decision by friends, family members, or boyfriends.

In many parts of the world, unborn children are aborted due to unwanted physical or mental disabilities, or even for being female. Iceland prides itself on having nearly “eradicated” Down syndrome, but in reality, the only reason the number of babies born with Down syndrome has significantly decreased in that country is because children diagnosed with Down syndrome in utero are often killed prior to birth via abortion. In India, where sex-selective abortion is rampant, a new study has shown that there might be as many as 6.8 million fewer girls than boys born between 2017 and 2030.

House Democrats are right to condemn the practice of forcing hysterectomies on non-consenting women. The allegations raised against ICE at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia should be thoroughly investigated to ensure that all offenders are brought to justice. By dragging abortion into H.Res. 1153, however, Democrats have created a needless roadblock to bipartisanship while also highlighting their hypocrisy on the issue of human rights.

In response to the partisan H.Res. 1153, Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) introduced the Informed Consent Act (H.R. 8498), which would prohibit any abortion or sterilization procedure performed without informed consent and impose a 10-year penalty on anyone who violates this provision. The issue of forced abortion and sterilization should not be co-opted as a means of promoting legal abortion. If Democrats truly had women’s best interests in mind, they would support H.R. 8498 and condemn any violence done to women and their unborn children.

Presidential Order Recognizes All Newborn Life is Precious

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Ruth Moreno

September 30, 2020

On September 25, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) that reinforces existing protections for children born premature, with disabilities, or in medical distress, including infants who survive abortion. The Executive Order on Protecting Vulnerable Newborn and Infant Children responds to credible concerns that some hospitals have refused to provide medical screening and stabilizing treatment to such children because “they believe[d] these infants may not survive, may have to live with long-term disabilities, or may have a quality-of-life deemed to be inadequate.” However, such refusals violate multiple federal laws, as the EO explains.

An EO is not a new law. Rather, it is a directive from the president instructing the executive branch on how to enforce existing law. This particular EO is primarily concerned with ensuring the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) properly enforces three existing laws:

Specifically, HHS must ensure:

  • all federal funding recipients understand their obligations toward vulnerable children;
  • all federal funding recipients provide medical screening examinations, stabilizing treatments, or transfers when needed;
  • all federal funding recipients provide these services to all children, regardless of disability;
  • violation complaints regarding medical care for newborns and infants are investigated;
  • disability discrimination complaints can be filed on the HHS website; and
  • research into treatments for infants born with emergency medical conditions and programs that train medical personnel to care for said infants are prioritized.

This EO clarifies medical protocols for infants born with disabilities or who survive abortion. However, the executive branch is limited to enforcing the laws that already exist. A legislative fix is necessary to provide true legal protections for infants who survive abortion. Since 2006, five states have reported at least 179 cases in which an infant has survived an abortion. Because not all states report this data, the 179 cases we do know about do not even begin to paint the full picture of the number of abortion survivors in the United States. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is a bill before Congress that would legally require medical professionals to give the same level of care to infants that survive abortion as they would to any infant born at the same gestational age, and include criminal and civil penalties for any physician that fails to give appropriate care to these infants.

Unfortunately, pro-abortion politicians have fallen victim to the abortion industry’s lies. They have halted every effort in Congress to denounce infanticide and provide full legal and medical protection for these innocent babies. Vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) voted against this life-saving measure twice, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has continuously blocked Republican efforts to have a House floor vote on the bill.

Congress has neglected its duty to ensure that the right to life is secured for all individuals born in America. President Trump has stepped in to fill the void left by Congress’ inaction by issuing this Executive Order, demonstrating this administration’s willingness to do what is necessary to protect the unborn, the disabled, and every infant who has survived the horror of abortion.

Connor Semelsberger, MPP is the Legislative Assistant at Family Research Council.

Ruth Moreno is a Policy and Government Affairs intern focusing on federal legislative affairs, with a concentration on pro-life issues.

Today’s “Acceptable” Racism

by Ingrid Skop, M.D.

September 8, 2020

The people of America are engulfed in a contentious discussion about racism. The recorded death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer has been viewed by millions, and the public has responded by demanding an end to police brutality. Many individuals and organizations have embraced the slogan, “Black lives matter.” 

Yet, as often happens in today’s politically divisive climate, some actions, such as police behavior, have been closely scrutinized, while others remain unexamined. But does our society mean what it says?  Does it truly care about all black lives? Or is the present crisis merely being used to promote certain political agendas and signal “virtuous” character?

Planned Parenthood’s Eugenic Legacy

Light was introduced into a dark corner recently, when a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Manhattan announced that it was removing the name of its founder, Margaret Sanger, from its building due to her ties to the eugenics movement. It has been well documented that Margaret Sanger’s motivation for promoting birth control was to prevent births from populations she considered less desirable. Her mindset can be demonstrated by statements such as, “Eugenics without birth control seems to us a house built upon the sands. It is at the mercy of the rising stream of the unfit.” Today, Planned Parenthood is the largest supplier of abortion in the United States, and they continue Sanger’s eugenic legacy in their organizational practices.

Seventy-nine percent of Planned Parenthood’s abortion facilities are located within impoverished minority neighborhoods, and black women are disproportionately receiving abortions. Although they constitute only 12 percent of the population, they obtain 38 percent of the abortions. Black women have obtained approximately 20 million of the 65 million abortions that have occurred in the U.S. since abortion was widely legalized in 1973. Poignantly, that is more than the entire U.S. black population at the time of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Today, there are 43 million black people in the U.S.  Our country would have about 50 percent more black citizens if abortion had not ended the lives of so many black children prior to birth. Was this eugenic result premeditated by those who promote abortion?

The Effect of Abortion on the Black Family

Although rarely acknowledged by those proposing expansion of entitlement programs as the solution to racial inequality, most of the pathologies affecting black Americans can be directly traced to the breakdown of the black family. Only 25 percent of black children were born to unmarried mothers prior to abortion’s legalization, but today, 69 percent are born out of wedlock. More than 50 years of government welfare programs have proven to be a poor substitute for a stable family in the lives of black children.

How might readily accessible abortion have contributed to this change in black families? The narrative of “her body, her choice” has apparently led many men to believe that the decision to bear a child belongs to the woman alone. The presence of another option may leave black men less inclined to marry the mother of their child if a pregnancy unintentionally occurs and she chooses to give birth. Additionally, many women who desire their children may be coerced into abortions by unwilling partners. Surely, black women do not aspire to raise their children alone, but their high abortion rates and unmarried childbirth rates provide evidence for the failure of many black men to fulfill their responsibilities as fathers.

Sociologic studies have consistently documented that a father’s presence in the home decreases a family’s poverty, the likelihood that the daughters will experience teen pregnancy, and the likelihood that the sons will resort to criminality. The large number of fatherless black children being raised by single mothers undoubtedly contributes to many of the problems plaguing the black community in America today: mass incarceration, gang violence, poverty, drug abuse, poor education, and unemployment. Yet, little discussion is devoted to ways in which paternal involvement in black families could be promoted and prioritized. 

Much attention has been given to the increased mortality rates in black women surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. This has been simplistically attributed to “systemic racism,” but few are aware that the 3.3-fold increased rate of maternal mortality in black women compared to white women mirrors the 3.6-fold increased rate of abortion. Limiting the discussion to racism ignores other factors exacerbated by abortion that contribute to maternal mortality.

Poverty is a risk factor for failure to obtain appropriate medical care and may contribute to this racial disparity. Only five percent of married couples live in poverty, so the extremely high rate of single black mothers undoubtedly contributes to their poor outcomes. Risk factors for pregnancy complications such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes occur more commonly in black than white women. There may be genetic reasons for this, but poverty is also associated with these high-risk conditions. Pregnancies complicated by these co-morbidities are more likely to lead to C-section delivery, which has a far higher mortality rate.

Regardless of financial status, giving birth and caring for a child without a partner places a woman at an obvious disadvantage. If she should become ill during pregnancy or in the postpartum period, she may be unable or unwilling to seek emergency care due to a lack of social support, childcare, or transportation.

Black women more commonly have later abortions (13 percent) than white women (9 percent). The risk of death from abortion increases by 38 percent every week after eight weeks gestation. Thus, deaths directly related to physical complications of later abortions are increased in black women.

The Dire Long-Term Consequences of Abortion

Adverse mental health outcomes, such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, high risk-taking behavior, and suicide, are increased after abortion. These are common causes of “deaths of despair” in the black community.   Black women are also more likely to be the victims of violence, often from their intimate partners.

In addition to the immediate physical risks of abortion, there are long-term complications that increase a woman’s risk of death in a subsequent pregnancy. Forcibly opening a cervix that is designed to remain closed until natural childbirth may result in cervical trauma and cervical incompetence in future pregnancies, often leading to preterm birth. Black women are documented to have higher preterm birth rates, leading to much suffering for their children from the complications of prematurity. Obstetric interventions for the management of preterm birth can lead to mortality from infections or medication toxicity.

And finally, instrumental trauma to the uterus, which may occur during a surgical abortion, can cause faulty adherence of the placenta in a subsequent pregnancy, leading to premature placental separation or placental invasion into the cervix, uterine wall, or adjacent organs. There has been a 110-fold increase in “Placental Accreta Spectrum” since 1950, which can cause catastrophic hemorrhage at the time of delivery, a common cause of maternal deaths.

A Disproportionate Tragedy

Clearly, abortion has disproportionately affected the black community, leading to a decrease in their population numbers as well as many adverse consequences to women and children. Many of the pathologies affecting the black community can be at least partly attributed to the breakdown in families and the absence of paternal involvement, facilitated by abortion. Mental health complications in black women, leading to deaths of despair, can be caused by abortion. Immediate pregnancy complications, especially from dangerous late-term abortions, as well as complications in subsequent pregnancies, such as preterm delivery and abnormal placentation, may also lead to maternal morbidity and mortality. 

Is our country ready to have this hard conversation? Many people who claim to despise racism also believe abortion should be readily available to women in any situation. Are we ready to talk about how widespread abortion in the black population has become an “acceptable” form of racism in the U.S. today?

Ingrid Skop, M.D., F.A.C.O.G. has been a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist for 24 years. Dr. Skop is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a former Board Member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), and a Charlotte Lozier Institute Associate Scholar. She is the author of FRC’s Top 10 Myths About Abortion.

Pregnancy Is Not an Illness - And Abortion Pills Are Not a Cure

by Laura Grossberndt

September 4, 2020

Abortion activists recently took offense at a congressional letter addressed to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), alleging it called pregnancy “not life-threatening.”

But this is not a faithful representation of what the letter, signed by 20 Republican senators, said. In actuality, the letter stated that “pregnancy is not a life-threatening illness.” This is an important distinction. Senate Republicans are not denying the life-threatening complications that can emerge during pregnancy and labor. They are stressing the point that pregnancy—and by extension, the unborn child in the womb—is not a disease for which the abortion pill is a “cure.”

Certainly, pregnancy has associated health risks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. maternal mortality rate is 17.4 per 100,000 live births as of 2018. But pregnancy, the natural biological process of bringing new human life into the world, is not a disease, and should not be treated as if it were one.

The two-pill abortion regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol, on the other hand, carries its own set of risks to women’s health that are far from natural. These risks include severe bleeding, infection, retained fetal parts, the need for emergency surgery, and even death. There are over 4,000 documented cases of abortion pills endangering the lives and health of women. Said health risks are the reason why the FDA placed safety restrictions on the procurement of abortion pills. We don’t even know the full extent of the damage that abortion pills have inflicted on women’s health, because reporting of adverse events is voluntary. The FDA admits that it “does not receive reports for every adverse event or medication error that occurs with a product.”

One of the FDA’s safety restrictions required women to make an in-person visit to a certified prescriber in order to receive abortion pills. This restriction, meant to mitigate some of the risks of taking abortion pills, was recently waived for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic by a federal district judge. This decision sought to protect women’s health, but in reality, it merely substituted one health risk (COVID-19) for another (severe abortion complications).

But even with these FDA restrictions fully in place, the abortion pill (also known as chemical or medical abortion) has been shown to pose a greater risk to women’s health than surgical abortion in the first trimester. As Michael J. New of the Charlotte Lozier Institute and Donna Harrison of the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists write:

[A] 2015 study of abortion safety in California, based on comprehensive and reliable data from Medicaid billing records rather than surveys, found that medical abortions resulted in four times the complication rate of first-trimester surgical abortions. Given that chemical abortions are already riskier than early surgical abortions, it stands to reason that performing medical abortions without physician supervision only increases those risks.

The Republican senators who signed the letter to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn are not denying—as some news media headlines and abortion activists would apparently have the American public believe—that pregnancies can have life-threatening medical complications. These senators are making the legitimate claim that abortion pills are “an ‘imminent hazard to the public health’” that should not be considered a viable solution to an unplanned pregnancy or any potential pregnancy complications.

Snopes Overlooks the Facts in Its Fact-Check of the Senate Born-Alive Vote

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP

August 25, 2020

By omitting several key elements of the abortion survival debate, Snopes’ fact-check of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (SB 311) is not an unbiased appraisal of the issue. Rather, it is a lackluster attempt to provide cover for U.S. senators who failed to support federal protections against infanticide.

Here is a fact-check of Snopes’ fact-check.

 

Snopes’ Claim:

Thirty-four states have “laws offering various levels of protection for babies born alive after failed abortions, and various levels of criminal penalties set out for health care practitioners who fail to provide care for them.”

What’s True:

Actually, thirty-five states have some form of legal protection for infants born alive after failed abortions. Yet, nearly two-thirds of state laws do not have criminal penalties for physicians who fail to provide medical care to infants born alive.

Snopes mentions FRC’s Born-Alive Protections Map in its fact-check, but completely misses the map’s main takeaway. Yes, 35 states have some form of born-alive law on the books, but only 16 of those states mandate an appropriate form of care and impose penalties on physicians who fail to provide said care. The remaining 19 states do not provide necessary protections for abortion survivors. Most simply mirror the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002, which recognized and defined any child surviving a failed abortion as a full person under the law but failed to provide any concrete ways to hold physicians accountable for killing or denying medical care to infants who survive abortion.

It appears that Snopes erroneously conflates different elements of born alive laws in asserting that “two-thirds” of states have “various levels of criminal penalties” in their born-alive laws.

Snopes also conveniently omits that New York and Illinois repealed born-alive laws in 2019.

 

Snopes’ Claim:

Democrat and Independent U.S. senators voted against the federal Born-Alive bill (SB 311) because it would have interfered with the doctor-patient relationship and undermined legal abortion access.

What’s True:

SB 311 contains no language that would undermine current abortion laws. The bill merely seeks to ensure adequate protections for born-alive infants who have survived an abortion. As the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ben Sasse, explained on the Senate floor before the 2019 vote: “The bill’s terms are simple. A child born alive during a botched abortion would be given the same level of care that would be provided to any other baby born at the same gestational age….This bill is exclusively about protecting babies that have already been born and are outside the womb.”

Rather than quote the bill’s sponsor, Snopes relied entirely on quotes from Democrat senators who opposed the bill. While these Democrat senators may have claimed a potential breach of the doctor-patient relationship as a reason for opposing the bill, no such breaches have been raised in the 16 states with born-alive laws comparable to SB 311. Furthermore, born-alive laws in these states have had no proven effect on access to late-term abortions.

 

Snopes’ Claim:

Democrat senators voted against SB 311 because they felt it was unnecessary in light of existing law. Senator Mazie Hirono said the bill was “a solution in search of a problem.”

What’s True:

Studies from around the world confirm that infants can and do survive abortion. A 2018 European study found that over half of 241 pre-viable pregnancies resulted in live births following attempted abortions. A CDC report from 2003-14 revealed that at least 143 infants died after being born alive from an abortion. Only eight U.S. states currently require reporting on abortion survivors, but in those states, there have been at least 179 survival cases. Minnesota reported three cases in 2019 in its July 2020 report. Florida, which provides live updates of born-alive survivors, has reported four cases in 2020 alone. These reports show that infants can and do survive late-term abortions, and the states that provide accurate reporting report several cases each year.

We should all agree that whether by neglect or intentional means, the killing of a baby who has been born alive is abhorrent. Since so few states provide detailed information on abortion survivors, the scope of the problem is not fully known. Even one child born alive who dies after surviving an abortion attempt because they were denied medical care is too many.

Even Snopes grudgingly admitted in its article: “SB 311 would introduce a “born alive” abortion law that would apply uniformly throughout the entire country. By voting to block the progress of SB 311, the Democratic and Independent senators did undoubtedly prevent that outcome from becoming much more likely” (bolding mine).

State Department Reaffirms That the U.S. Can Meet Global Health Goals While Protecting Life

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP

August 19, 2020

On Monday, the State Department, in coordination with other federal agencies, released a second review of President Donald Trump’s Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy (PLGHA), affirming its effectiveness in both protecting life and promoting global health.

On January 23, 2017, President Trump reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy which restricts foreign funds from going to organizations that perform or promote abortions. This unprecedented expansion, which is now known under the PLGHA name, expanded the requirements from only applying to family planning funds to now covering all global health funds totaling nearly $8.8 billion in American foreign aid.

The outrage from pro-abortion groups was prompt, as 130 groups sent a letter to President Trump immediately following the announcement, condemning this policy for increasing unintended pregnancies and maternal deaths. The attacks on this policy have also made regular appearances in Congress as pro-abortion members have sought to delegitimize the effort and paint it as harming United States global health goals. This February, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on women’s global health, and pro-abortion members used it as fodder to attack PLGHA. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) claimed that “This administration’s unprecedented expansions [were] implemented with no analysis of the potential impacts.” She further asserted that “mass confusion about the policy has led to a chilling effect causing organizations to unnecessarily change or eliminate vital health services.” The State Department has now issued two thorough reports showing that these allegations are far from the truth.

The most recent report from the State Department analyzing the implementation of the PLGHA policy reveals that so far, only eight out of the 1,340 prime grantees of global health funds have declined to agree to the terms of the policy, two of which were the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International—two of the largest global abortion groups. That means that 99 percent of all organizations directly receiving these global health funds have agreed not to promote or perform abortions. An additional 47 subgrantees also declined to accept the terms of the policy, but in most cases the prime partner organization directly receiving the U.S. global health funds was able to take on these activities or transition them to another organization. Not everything with the implementation was perfect, as 18 of the subgrantees did report delays in health care delivery of greater than three months. In these instances, USAID stepped in to help find new partner organizations or work to provide technical assistance. Also, following the completion of the first State Department report, USAID has taken substantial action to train grantees on the implementation of the policy by providing in-person trainings and electronic guidance materials. Contradicting what Congressional opponents have claimed, the report concluded: “When organizations declined the terms of PLGHA, the transitions to alternative health providers have been, for the most part, smooth.”

Abortion providers, whether domestic or abroad, act as if they have a right to receive public funds, and any time those funds are taken away, there will supposedly be immediate consequences to public health. Time after time, this has been proven false, and the latest State Department report is further evidence of that. The other trend confirmed in this report is that when the government restricts funds for abortion providers, other willing funders will always step in to keep abortion groups supported. The report noted that in Burkina Faso and Niger, private donors stepped in to fund organizations that did not comply with the PLGHA policy.

A similar situation happened when President Trump implemented the Protect Life Rule which prohibited Title X grantees from promoting abortion. Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers withdrew from the program, sacrificing over $50 million in federal funds only for it to be replaced by state revenues instead. These trends raise the debate over whether public programs should only seek to provide services in the most efficient way possible; or, should morals and ethics play a role in how programs are implemented and which organizations provide those programs. The thorough review of using taxpayer funds to promote women’s health through Title X domestically and international global health funds demonstrate that our government can do both.

President Trump and his administration have gone above and beyond any past president to implement government-wide policies that protect unborn life. The reports being released further confirm that the U.S. can have policies that seek to both protect unborn children and promote better health outcomes for women. As Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) boldly proclaimed in response to the Congressional attacks on PLGHA: “To win the future, America should be leading to affirm the dignity and value of both patients, mothers and children.”

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