Reproductive Rights Corner
Over the past few months, the New York Times Opinion page has run not one but three antiabortion op-eds riddled with misinformation, pseudoscience, and outright falsehoods. On February 27, the Times published an article by Lauren Enriquez, a public relations manager at Human Coalition, a pro-life nonprofit that calls abortion “the worst holocaust in human history.” Exactly a month later, the Times published “To Win Again, Democrats Must Stop Being the Abortion Party,” in which Boston College professor Thomas Groome claimed that Hillary Clinton’s allegiance to pro-choice values contributed to her loss to Donald Trump. And in May, Lori Szala, the national director of client services at Human Coalition, argued that asserting a link between economics and abortion is “patronizing, and patently dishonest” in “The Problem with Linking Abortion and Economics.”
Such pieces coincide with Senator Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi expressing their openness to “pro-life” liberals in the Democratic Party.
In accepting and publishing antiabortion views, publications and politicians are not only normalizing the pseudoscience on which those views are based, but they are also feeding into the partisan illusion that abortion is a contentious issue, rather than a private medical decision. Noticeably absent from every antiabortion op-ed are sources to back up the assertion that abortion is murder—or scientifically and morally objectionable. While politicians and publications would like to make abortion a two-sided issue, science and research align with only one.
Legally speaking, abortion is not murder, and using words like “killing” to describe it is inaccurate and incendiary. Abortion has been legal in the United States since the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade in 1973, and the Model Penal Code, which serves as a kind of guide for standardizing state criminal laws, does not recognize abortion as murder or manslaughter.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) supports access to safe and legal abortion, and states clearly that abortion is a “necessary component of women’s health care.” It supports overturning abortion restrictions, including the Hyde Amendment, as well as bans on telemedicine, mandatory counseling, and Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws. ACOG “affirm[s] the legal right of a woman to obtain an abortion prior to fetal viability,” which it defines as “the capacity of the fetus for sustained survival outside the woman’s uterus”—a call it argues should be left to the “judgment of a responsible health care provider.” The ACOG also argues that abortion restrictions not only inhibit care and put people with unwanted pregnancies in danger, but they also prevent scientific advancements that may improve care in the future.
Other major medical organizations, including the American College of Physicians (ACP), the American Psychological Association (APA), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), support access to safe and legal abortion, and oppose restrictions on access, including TRAP laws and the Hyde Amendment. Of note, the APA has spoken out against the antiabortion belief in “post-abortion syndrome,” a condition that anti-choice advocates argue is a kind of post-traumatic stress that follows abortion.
Plus, statistics show not only that abortion is closely tied to economic issues, but also is inextricably linked to issues of race and age. According to author and activist Renee Bracey Sherman, women denied access to abortion are “three times more likely to be living in poverty two years later” when compared with women who had access.
A 2007 Guttmacher Institute study found that one of the most common reasons women gave for having an abortion was not being able to afford a child. States where abortion access is the most fraught are states where rates of women living in poverty are the highest—and also, often, “where most African American women live.” Another Guttmacher study, released in May 2017, found that “at least 10 major categories of abortion restrictions are premised on assertions not supported by rigorous scientific evidence.”
Abortion, statistically speaking, is normal. Twenty percent of all pregnancies end in abortion. More than a million abortions are performed in the United States every year. Most Americans support Roe v. Wade and access to first-trimester abortions, which make up roughly 90 percent of all abortions in the United States.
In the golden age of alternative facts, we must not validate the opinions of those who refute science and research. We have an administration ready to stack the Supreme Court with justices eager to overturn Roe v. Wade and a Congress that’s happy to uphold TRAP laws that make abortion all but illegal. And in publishing antiabortion propaganda and welcoming antiabortion voters into the Democratic Party, publications and politicians are bringing us one step closer to a world in which people who can become pregnant are relegated to lives without bodily autonomy. And that’s a fact.
This article first appeared online. Read the full version at bitchmedia.org.