Should this ball of cells have more rights than a grown woman?

As we noted in Fizz yesterday morning, state legislators---seven Republicans and one Democrat, Mark Miloscia (D-30)--- have proposed legislation mandating women's "informed consent," along with a 24-hour waiting period, before they can obtain an abortion.

In addition to being unbelievably condescending---imagine a bill mandating that men learn all about how sex works before they can get a prescription for Viagra--the bill incorporates many beliefs that are faith-based at best, medically inaccurate or dangerous at worst.

Here are the five biggest lies perpetuated by the bill:

1) Abortions harm women's physical health---in particular, raising the risk of certain cancers. (The bill refers to the "potential mental and physical health consequences" of abortion).

In fact, every reputable study has shown that having an abortion has zero impact on women's physical health. For example, in 2003, the National Cancer Institutes found that "abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk," a conclusion it designated as "well-established," the institute's highest rating.

Additionally, abortion does not pose risks to a woman's future fertility, nor does it regularly result in medical complications; in a study by the Guttmacher Institute, just 0.5 percent of women who had abortions experienced serious complications requiring surgery or hospitalization.

Contrast those stats with the potential physical risks of carrying a pregnancy to term---including death (the chance of dying from childbirth is 11 times higher than that of dying from an abortion), nausea and vomiting, backaches, preeclampsia (sudden hypertension, which often forces pregnant women to go on bed rest), ectopic pregnancies, and blood clots, to name just a few---and it's a wonder women aren't required to give "informed consent" to carry a pregnancy to term.

2) Abortions harm women's mental health, increasing the likelihood that a woman will suffer depression, sadness, grief, regret, anxiety and guilt. (See quote above).

The evidence for so-called "postabortion traumatic stress syndrome," as abortion opponents refer to the alleged mental health consequences of getting an abortion, is nonexistent. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, the most common feeling women report after an abortion is a sense of happiness or relief. That isn't to say that the decision to obtain an abortion (like the decision to have a child) isn't a serious medical decision that involves emotions, including, in some cases, grief. However, as it turns out, the best predictor of a woman's mental health after an abortion is her mental health before an abortion.

3) Women are incapable of choosing abortion without a lecture from a doctor explaining what an abortion is, the fact that some women are eligible for public assistance, and that child support exists.

"The knowledgeable exercise of a woman's decision to have an abortion depends on the extent to which the woman receives sufficient information to make an informed choice between two alternatives: Giving birth or having an abortion," the legislation reads. It also requires women to either watch an "informational video," read printed materials "describ[ing] the unborn child at various stages from conception to natural birth" and receive contact information for religious crisis pregnancy centers, or sign a form stating that she has waived that right.

I hope it goes without saying that women seeking abortion are generally: Aware of what pregnancy is, aware of what abortion is, aware of the existence of child support, and aware that there are organizations that oppose abortion.

4) Women routinely get abortions without any knowledge of what an abortion, or pregnancy, is.

From the bill: "Women and girls often obtain abortions without a full understanding of the potential physical and mental health consequences to themselves and the unborn baby they are carrying."

As someone who was educated in the US public school system, I was well aware of what pregnancy was by the time I was old enough to have to worry about it. I'm willing to wager that, even with today's abstinence-only "sex education" programs, girls are taught the potential consequences of unprotected sex---and that if they aren't, they've seen enough "16 and Pregnant" to know that sex can lead to pregnancy, and that abortion can end it.

5) "Unborn child at various stages from conception."

No. Anyone who believes that a cluster of cells has more rights---more humanity---than a grown woman who has made the difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy should not be in a position to limit women's rights to do so.

I have a call out to Miloscia to find out why he is sponsoring the "informed consent" legislation.
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