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Reflections from Rocky Top

Cecile Richards Repeats Pro-Abortion Myths

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Cecile Richards’s editorial in the June 13th Los Angeles Times is indicative of the inaccuracies propagated by Planned Parenthood, the organization she led for 12 years.

Richards is dismayed with what she calls Arkansas’s effort to “ban medication abortion.” It was no ban. Participants in the abortion industry are free to prescribe the chemical abortion pills provided they have a basic safety standard in place for women – that is, a contract with another physician who can facilitate an emergency hospital treatment should the need arise. And it does.

Richards called chemical abortion “safer than Tylenol and Viagra” and railed against state legislators in Missouri and Louisiana who’ve promoted protections for women, referring to them as “medically unnecessary.” However, medical studies refute both erroneous assertions. A study billed as the largest and most accurate compared the safety of chemical abortion with that of a surgical procedure. The over 22,000 women who had a chemical abortion had four times as many serious complications. One out of six women experienced hemorrhaging. Over three out of every 50 women retained parts of the baby in their wombs, most of whom required surgery to remove it. Six other studies had similar results.

Richards also falsely claimed that before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion, “healthy women routinely died in emergency rooms across the country because of botched abortions.” Not true. According the US Bureau of Vital Statistics and Centers for Disease Control, during 1972, the year before abortion was legalized, 39 women died from botched abortions. Each death was certainly a tragedy, but the number could hardly be considered “routine.”

If Planned Parenthood’s mantra, “legal abortion is safe abortion,” is true, Richards and the organization should explain why some of their flagship abortion facilities have experienced disconcerting numbers of documented medical emergencies. St. Louis Planned Parenthood had nine during the last two years. The New York City Planned Parenthood, named after the organization’s founder Margaret Sanger, encountered 10 within 13 months. Legal abortion doesn’t necessarily mean safe abortion.

Another of Richards and Planned Parenthood’s repeated assertions is that abortion is “essential healthcare.” Abortion, either chemical or surgical in nature, brutally kills an innocent unborn baby. By medical and scientific definitions, abortion is killing a human being, not healthcare.

Cecile Richards should be careful about boasting that a majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade. Gallup, one of America’s most trusted polling firms, recently took a more in-depth look at public opinion on abortion and found that a majority – 53% –  think abortion should be legal in only a few or no circumstances. Pro-life legislation in Arkansas and several other states reflects this reality. Her view of unrestricted abortion on demand is extreme and out of step with the mainstream of American opinion.

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