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Challenging Abortion Marketing Ploys

By Walter M. Weber1415651188626

The ACLJ today filed, jointly with the Houston Coalition for Life, an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in the abortion regulation case of Whole Women’s Health v. Lakey. The state of Texas is appealing from a federal district court ruling that struck down (1) the requirement that abortionists have admitting privileges at a hospital and (2) the requirement that abortion facilities meet the safety requirements for ambulatory surgical centers.  

Our brief directly confronts two tactics of the abortionists and their attorneys, tactics designed by the abortion lobby to make abortion seem attractive and/or necessary.  

First, we take on the abortionists’ verbal engineering. In case you have not noticed, the abortion industry recognizes that abortion carries with it a stigma. After all, abortion means deliberately taking the life of a child in the womb, and that’s not something most people are comfortable with. So abortion promoters use deceptive or sanitized language like “choice” or “reproductive rights” or “health”. One of the latest euphemisms is “abortion care,” which, while it actually mentions abortion, wraps it in the comforting language of “care.” Our brief points out that courts  

are not supposed to weigh in on one side or the other of a marketing campaign. This Court should therefore avoid using the euphemism “abortion care” . . . .Moreover, the phrase “abortion care” is awkward and redundant.  A surgeon does a heart bypass, not “heart bypass care.”  An orthodontist provides braces, not “braces care”.   A technician does a mammogram, not “mammogram care”.  And an abortionist does abortions, not “abortion care.”

Second, we confront the myth that abortion is safer than childbirth:

The [abortionists’] complaint goes so far as to assert that the risk of maternal death is 14 times higher in childbirth than abortion. . . . The problem is that plaintiffs’ claim is unsupported and almost certainly incorrect.

We point the court to a prior amicus brief the ACLJ filed in one of the Supreme Court’s partial birth abortion cases, in which we carefully refuted the abortion-is-safer canard, pointing out that the myth rests upon faulty data and erroneous statistical comparisons. We also inform the court that  “more recently, a comprehensive analysis by a physician [Byron Calhoun] conclusively rebuts the myth that abortion is safer than childbirth.” (You can find that study at www.aaplog.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/LNQ61-Maternal-Mortality-Review-7-17-13.pdf.) Among the “key points” about this abortion safety myth, we note that:

  • Deaths from abortion are underreported, and abortion data more generally is very incomplete;
  • Deaths from abortion can be counted as “maternal deaths,” thereby falsely inflating the measure of deaths supposedly from childbirth;
  • Abortion mortality statistics do not include deaths that result indirectly from the abortion, such as increased suicide rates or longer-term fatal health consequences, even though studies show a greater risk of death from these and other causes after abortion (as opposed to childbirth);
  • A high percentage of maternal deaths are associated with  miscarriages early in pregnancy; but any woman who has passed that stage of pregnancy is no longer at risk of falling into this large category of maternal deaths – i.e., that particular risk category has passed . . .;
  • Maternal mortality is measured per childbirth, not per pregnancy; hence, the relevant maternal population is artificially reduced by excluding those who experience miscarriages and stillbirths, except that if such women die, their deaths are included in the maternal mortality totals . . .; 
  • The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) itself has admitted that the statistics for maternal mortality and abortion mortality  are “conceptually different” and “used by CDC for different public health purposes,” . . .; i.e., for purposes of comparison they are apples and oranges.

We conclude: “There is strong evidence that abortion is positively detrimental to maternal health and, if anything, more likely to lead to death or other adverse consequences than is continuing the pregnancy.  Access to abortion is no favor to women.”

The appeal is scheduled for oral argument early in January, 2015.

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