Anyone with a uterus knows that politicians (particularly those accepting money from the anti-abortion lobby) are not their doctors and never will be. But that doesn’t stop those politicians from spouting various bizarre and medically inaccurate opinions that don’t line up with how women’s healthcare providers approach the same issues — particularly folks like Sen. Ted Cruz, out of Texas, who made such baseless, inaccurate claims while promoting a GOP push to have medical abortion pills classified as “a hazard to public health.” Which, ugh.
“Pregnancy is not a life-threatening illness, and the abortion pill does not cure or prevent any disease,” Cruz tweeted. “Make no mistake, Mifeprex is a dangerous pill. That’s why 20 of my Republican colleagues and I are urging @US_FDA to classify it as such.”
Because, as healthcare advocates and patients who have actually been pregnant pointed out, pregnancy is too often “life-threatening” for the pregnant person (particularly marginalized low-income folks, Black mothers and WOC — who are significantly more likely to have “traumatic” births) and the pill he’s attempting to make less accessible, Mifeprex, is safer than numerous commonly-used and established medications (including penicillin and Viagra).
“Medications for erectile dysfunction are more dangerous than Mifeprex,” Dr. Jen Gunter said in response on Twitter. “Maternal mortality is a tragic 17.4 deaths/100,000 live births. Abortion is safer. Medical abortion is health care.”
Medications for erectile dysfunction are more dangerous than Mifeprex.— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) September 3, 2020
Maternal mortality is a tragic 17.4 deaths/100,000 live births. Abortion is safer.
Medical abortion is health care.
Are you lying or just stupid? https://t.co/hHsDoz1wgV
Following the initial processing of the tweet by folks in the medical community, other politicians – like Ohio’s Shannon Freshour, running against Republican Jim Jordan for the state’s 4th district — stepped up to call the statement what it was: misogynistic and wrong.
“This is a dangerous, misogynistic lie. Pregnancy can, and often is, a life-threatening or even life-ending medical condition, especially among black mothers and women of color,” Freshour tweeted. “Why are you politicizing and lying about women’s lives to control and kill us? Have you no morality?”
And then, of course, mothers who experienced traumatic, high-risk pregnancies also called this out, sharing their own stories of how risky their pregnancies were for their health and survival.
On behalf of the *many* women for whom pregnancy has been life-threatening, fuck you https://t.co/0MikSnza6j— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) September 3, 2020
Oh man when I started hemorrhaging and needed emergency surgery 7 weeks postpartum, I wish Ted Cruz had been there with me lying on the bathroom floor to tell me my life wasn’t threatened. https://t.co/jozVa9S0Lp— Bess Kalb (@bessbell) September 3, 2020
So, ultimately, there’s a few things at play here: Maternal deaths (in the United States and around the world) remain so painfully common — particularly among low-income people and particularly for Black women. Abortions (particularly medication ones) are overwhelmingly safe procedures — and, as we previously reported, fewer than 0.3 percent of abortion patients require emergency care or hospitalization. The only case where abortions become unsafe are when they are not accessible and not affordable. So realistically the biggest risk to pregnant women seeking abortions come from closed clinics, legislation that attempts to make abortions illegal early on in pregnancies, forces waiting time or things like Hyde Amendment blocking the ability for federal funding to go toward abortion. Meanwhile, pregnancy, childbirth and childrearing in general are less safe when we see people unable to access resources (food, housing, work, healthcare) before, during and after their pregnancy.
But, of course, this is why the POVs of pregnant people (and people who have been pregnant) and their doctors are the only ones that are valid and necessary in this conversation. But stay wrong and stay mad, Ted!
Before you go, check out our slideshow of the multitudes your menstrual healthcare contain: