Health Policy

February 1, 2020: It’s Not Just about Abortion: Full on Assaults against Women by Religious Right

Posted on February 01, 2020 at 12:00 AM

As we approach the 47th Anniversary of Roe v Wade, which guarantees women the right to a safe abortion provided by licensed physicians, religious right-wingers in America are attempting to legalize outrageous medical rules and procedures.

First are the outright lies that most methods of birth control are “mini-abortions” and are therefore forbidden. These lies include pills, patches, hormonal rings, shots, IUDs, implanted rods, and “morning after” pills. Some “faith-based” pregnancy centers even refuse to recommend condom use per belief that “every sperm is a potential life.” Of course, abstinence and “natural family planning” (failure rate around 50%) are still OK.

Then we have the state-mandated lies that abortion causes breast cancer, infertility, mental illness, and drug addiction, as well as “fetal pain.” And the totally unnecessary mandate that all physicians providing abortions have “admitting privileges” at a nearby hospital (mileages vary). The truth is that in no other health care procedure—such as colonoscopy, plastic surgery, Botox injections, etc.—is there a requirement that the physician have admitting privileges anywhere.

Early in 2019, some faith-based pregnancy centers created another lie—the most dangerous of the fake advice given to women seeking abortion—one that has the potential to result in women’s death. The protocol for medical abortions (“pill abortions”) mandates a single pill (Mifeprex) swallowed in the office to stop the continued growth of the pregnancy; 48 hours later the patient takes Misoprostal tablets at home to empty the uterus. The lie zealots tell is that the woman “can change her mind” by simply not taking the second dose. However, without the second dose, the pregnancy may cease but if the uterus is not voided and remnants remain, they can infect the woman and kill her.

Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas passed legislation in the past year that requires the contents of every abortion, even as early as 5 or 6 weeks, to be buried or cremated (paid for by the abortion provider). As state courts are evaluating these mandates, several more states are considering such laws.

In the past few months, non-medical religious zealots, also in Ohio and Pennsylvania, have tried to mandate treatment of ectopic pregnancies by stitching the ectopic pregnancy into the woman’s uterus. Mind you, this procedure is entirely fictitious, and several board-certified OB GYN physicians have publicly condemned the concept. No matter, the zealots continue their quest.

The zealots have also demanded that, again with an ectopic pregnancy, health insurance be forbidden to pay for the abortion “until the woman’s life is shown to be in danger.” That means until she starts to hemorrhage, which might well be too late to save her life.

Lastly and most ludicrous, is Trump’s appointment of Sarah Pitlyk to the federal bench in Missouri. The American Bar Association has deemed her “unqualified,” but she clerked for Judge Kavanagh, so is well-known in right-wing circles. Her current passion is to ensure that all fertilized eggs being held for infertility purposes either be implanted immediately or buried because they are “human beings.” She is against all assisted reproduction, such as IVF (in vitro fertilization) and all surrogacy as “unnatural.”

In no other arena do we have “faith-based” politicians, legislators, or religious figures making health care decisions for our fellow Americans. Only in women’s health care do we have meddling and mandates by non-physicians, which are not just impinging on our human rights to confidential health care. Some of the aforementioned mandates would likely result in women’s death. We must remain alert and let our legislators know our rights cannot be threatened by religious bigotry.

— Karen Pataky, Chair, Health Policy Task Force 

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