Dr. Bow Tie
ABORTION IS HEALTHCARE
In the upcoming election, there is a group that is voting for Trump based solely on the idea that he will stop abortions. Here are 6 myths about abortions often propagated by old white male Republicans. Disclaimers: 1. It's important to note that I know people who call themselves "Pro-Life" and sincerely believe in that AND they back up their stance on non-abortion fronts. Unfortunately, those aren't the people making these laws and defining "Pro-life" as anti-choice/anti-healthcare. 2. I am a doctor of Internal Medicine, not OB/GYN, though you'll find that I agree with most rational OB/GYN physicians on this issue. We are pro-choice. I am also a Christian. 3. A definition: Before the baby is delivered and breathes air, it's called a fetus. That will be what I use throughout this piece.
Myth#1: LATE-TERM ABORTIONS.
This is the myth du jour right now. VP Mike Pence and many other Republicans love using this myth to distract from whatever point a Democrat is making. There is NO SUCH THING as late-term abortion. Read that again. There are no women who get more than 20-24 weeks into a pregnancy and suddenly decide "Nope, changed my mind." If an abortion must be done after a fetus would normally be viable for delivery, it is an incredibly heavy and heart-breaking decision, usually because the fetus has a fatal anomaly and only AFTER all efforts are made to try for a safe delivery. Acknowledge that patients with a uterus know their own body and can be properly informed, and they should be allowed to make their own decisions with their doctor, without worry about being labeled criminal. Don't buy into this lie that Republicans like to spread.
Myth#2: THE BIBLE FORBIDS ABORTIONS.
No, it doesn't. It doesn't really talk about abortions. 30 years ago abortions were okay with the church based on the interpretation of the Bible; but around that time there was a swell from the evangelical right that promoted a switch from "Abortion is a necessary healthcare procedure at times and the fetus/potential person must be treated with respect" (which is still the medical philosophy now) to "all abortion is evil." Any argument otherwise is treated with hostility. Verses have been twisted with all sorts of eisegesis, but the fact is Jesus does not talk about abortion. In a world where women were often shamed for doing anything bold or independent, he spoke out against that. He decried the death penalty, welcomed strangers/foreigners, and did not favor the selfishly rich (he threw out people corrupting the temple for profit).The Trump plan today is not consistent with what Jesus actually taught.
Myth#3: BANNING ABORTION LOWERS ABORTION RATES.
There have been many many studies about this, most notably through the Guttmacher Institute: banning abortion doesn't reduce the need, it only lowers the rates of SAFE abortions - decreased access to safe, trained abortion providers and increased back-alley abortions or unproven treatments.
*****Abortion rates actually go down in years with Democratic administrations, most notably in President Obama's time, as the Affordable Care Act provided so many people with access to contraception and proper reproductive healthcare (which would go away if the ACA is repealed).*****
Reproductive care is a microcosm of U.S. Healthcare. We should vote for the administrations that continue to promote access and education, not the ones that interfere with science and healthcare. Study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23168752/
Myth#4: IF WE WANT TO DECREASE ABORTION, PEOPLE SHOULD NOT HAVE SEX!
This just isn't a viable position to take. Consensual sex is an enjoyable part of the human experience, and those who want to have it should be able to do so, whether or not they want children. Again it comes back to access - Planned Parenthood provides access to free/cheap contraception. However, not everyone benefits from the same pill. Some get more of a benefit from an intrauterine device (IUD), some benefit from the depot shot, some have to try multiple versions of contraception before they find one that works and doesn't give harsh side effects. There should be no stigma, nothing but equal access.
Myth#5: POST-ABORTION DEPRESSION AND OTHER HEALTH EFFECTS.
Anti-abortion lobbies created this myth to sell banning/controlling abortion. This is how they justify: 1. Forcing an ultrasound (not necessary if the patient does not want it) or the myth of fetal pain 2. Wait 3 days (they haven't thought about it enough?) 3. Force-feed them false info linking abortion and breast cancer, infertility, depression (correlation without causation).
Now, of course there are people who experience remorse after their abortion...but how many of those people are subjected to such falsehoods? Shame from church, family, friends? If, instead, we treat abortion as the healthcare procedure that it is, and provide access to appropriate options for prevention and treatment, we could probably see a lessening of those supposed "aftereffects."
Myth#6: PLANNED PARENTHOOD HARVESTS BABY PARTS! This has been long disproven and is simply not true. There was a heavily-doctored video a few years ago that seemed to depict a "gotcha" interview where an anti-abortion advocate posed as a fake company looking to buy fetal parts from PP. The House Oversight Committee's fact check on this whole issue: https://oversight.house.gov/planned-parenthood-fact-v-fiction?fbclid=IwAR2KWZfZxhrKwe_LHhgWE9LwapwdKZKv2D8rJFP7ToV6A-c8U4XTS091A_g
Finally, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. No one cares that she's Catholic. We don't care that Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi and close to 100 other Democrats in Congress (and many other Republicans) are Catholic. The difference is her power to impose her values on people that don't share them, in a way that interferes with access and healthcare. She signed an anti-abortion/anti-Roe newspaper ad in 2006. That newspaper ad bought into some of the myths above, which is dangerous for someone who is meant to objectively interpret the law. Now, that was 10 years ago, and since then she has stated that her personal views won't influence her judicial decisions on the court. But Trump vowed to bring in Supreme Court Justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. It's no coincidence that "pro-life" groups are praising her nomination. That is what we are against, and that is why we are wary of anyone he wants to bring to the court, let alone rushing the nomination (leaving aside that her nomination was likely a superspreading event in a pandemic which is not yet over, and to rush such a process, both in execution and in impact, could put more people in danger - not exactly "Pro-Life").
Now, some will point to a recent heartbreaking reveal by Chrissy Teigen. She lost her pregnancy, through no action of her own or anyone else. It is an awful thing, and my heart goes out to Ms. Teigen and Mr. Legend. But she had the choice to carry that pregnancy, it was up to her. Some people elect (early) not to do so. Some people do not have the means to do so, and the barriers to do that could take up a whole other post. They should be allowed the choice of how to proceed (or not) with a pregnancy. Abortion is not murder. Abortion is healthcare. Roe v. Wade is settled law for reproductive rights.
P.S. I've long been pro-choice, but maybe my words aren't enough. One final link I'll add is by a formerly "Pro-Life" individual who wrote about why she could no longer support that stance and its candidates: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/10/how-i-lost-faith-in-the-pro-life-movement.html
An article by Dr. Jen Gunter, an OB/GYN, about her experience: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/26/opinion/born-alive-abortion.html?fbclid=IwAR2abo08TtvBCWVd835HAEoJ-gw2b5FuNvsL757PfKi-qpNGoL1MRYi2Qkg
Shout out to Libby Anne on Patheos, John Fugelsang, and a couple of friends who I asked to read over this post before it went live.