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Tipsheet

Celebrities Display Their Ignorance in Hot Takes on the End of Roe

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

After the fall of Roe v. Wade, multiple celebrities have shared stories about their abortions — and with them, egregious quantities of misinformation. Many have equated miscarriages and abortions or made other claims about the effect of Dobbs on abortion laws that are simply untrue.

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It's important to establish the facts before looking at the fiction. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, miscarriage is, "the spontaneous loss of a nonviable, intrauterine pregnancy before 20 weeks gestational age." Conversely, abortion is "a voluntary termination of a pregnancy." Since miscarriages are involuntary, they are definitionally different from abortions.

The argument that outlawing abortion means women will be criminalized for miscarriages has no foundation either — as Townhall reported, none of the states that have banned or significantly restricted abortion criminalize pregnant women. Only abortionists face prosecution for ending unborn lives, and this is the case in every single state in the country where legal penalties exist — it is the case now, and it was the case even before the Supreme Court overturned Roe.

Halsey

One celebrity who shared her "abortion" story is Halsey, 27-year-old "tri-bi" pop singer who goes by she/they pronouns. She has a one-year-old son who was born last year — but before that, she suffered three miscarriages. In a story for Vogue, she describes the traumatizing circumstances surrounding one of these instances. She refers to the process as an abortion because, she said, "my body could not terminate the pregnancy completely on its own and I would risk going into sepsis without medical intervention."

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There's a lot of misinformation to unpack here. First, Halsey did not get an abortion in the story she described to Vogue — she had an incomplete miscarriage, meaning some of the tissue from the miscarried child remained in her uterus, and got medical treatment for it. As mentioned before, abortions are voluntary whereas miscarriages are spontaneous and involuntary, regardless of any medical treatment used to treat the failed pregnancy.

The line can seem blurry here, because the drugs used to perform abortions before nine weeks of pregnancy are the same that are used to treat incomplete miscarriages. But miscarriage treatment and abortion are not the same procedures from a legal point of view despite what may seem to be similarities.

There is no doubt her experience was traumatizing, but it wasn't an abortion — by depicting it as one, she spreads the untruth that abortion restrictions would have prevented her from getting proper treatment for her miscarriage, thereby making her traumatizing experience even worse and potentially more dangerous.

Second, even if the medical assistance she received to treat her miscarriage could be considered an abortion, it still would have been legal just about everywhere. In her story for Vogue, Halsey says:

How funny that while my own heart would amount to nothing more than a series of involuntary movements on an operating table, a beating heart in my womb could mean I couldn’t consent to saving my own life.

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As Townhall reported, every state with total or near total bans on abortion procedures still allow them if the mother's life is at risk. Halsey misrepresenting her situation like this does nothing but spread fear about pregnancy loss and abortion laws, which neither harm nor criminalize women who experience the tragedy that is miscarriage.

Laura Prepon

Another celebrity spreading misinformation about abortion and Roe is Laura Prepon, a 42 year old actress who got an abortion in 2018 during her second trimester of pregnancy. She said she got an abortion because she learned the child would not survive and her own life would be threatened if she carried it full term. She made an Instagram post a few days after the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision.

She says about her abortion that, "at the time — I had the choice." Again, even the most extreme abortion laws have exceptions for situations in which the mother's life is at risk. Oklahoma, which Townhall reported has laws that ban abortion in almost all circumstances, has exceptions that allow an abortion to save the mother's life.

This all too common mischaracterization of abortion laws perpetuates the idea that banning abortion puts more lives at risk, as well as the lie that the court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson banned abortion. All it did was put decisions about abortion laws back in the hands of state legislatures, as Townhall has covered.

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Hilarie Burton

Like Halsey, actress Hilarie Burton also misrepresented her traumatic miscarriage experience as an abortion, furthering the false narrative that the end of Roe means involuntary miscarriages are now criminal offenses. She, too, shared her story in an Instagram post.

She said she struggled with infertility before the birth of her daughter and she had to get an "abortion" when her child died in the womb. In other words, like Halsey, she had an incomplete miscarriage — which was involuntary — and received medical treatment to deal with the after effects of her failed pregnancy.

She discusses in her Instagram post that the official medical terminology for the procedure she received was an abortion. It's true that medical professionals refer to the termination of incomplete miscarriages as "medical abortions," but from a legal point of view, the involuntary nature of a miscarriage is much more important than the medical terminology used for the procedure.

Again, there is no place in the country where abortion is illegal that involuntary pregnancy loss is a crime — to portray this as if it is true is a willful misunderstanding of the facts and of the law.

The only potentially relevant situation that people like Burton are not discussing in their condemnations of the Supreme Court is the possibility that abortion inducing drugs used for treating incomplete miscarriages could be banned. But the U.S. Attorney General has said since these drugs are approved by the FDA, states cannot ban them and therefore states that try to can be challenged legally.

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These celebrities and more are contributing to a swirling mess of misinformation and lies surrounding the end of Roe and the return of abortion legislation to its rightful place — the states.

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