We are sure you remember when Todd Akin, then a candidate for U.S. Senate from Missouri, said victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Akin said “doctors” told him about this amazing advancement in the female reproductive system, although he never identified those doctors. Missourians found his statement so shocking that he lost an election once thought to be a certain win, so he’s not now in office making laws that impact women’s health based on hand-picked and made-up bits of pseudo-science.
We appear to have lawmakers following Todd Akin’s lead here in North Carolina. For example, the state Senate is considering a bill that would mandate the public schools teach that abortions lead to future pre-term births. Opponents of this bill include multiple reputable and mainstream medical organizations, such as the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, who say it’s just not true.
There are a number of additional bills that supporters say are designed to protect women’s health, while women’s health organizations call foul t. Like the bill that requires a doctor who performs abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. mMost hospitals, afraid of the possible backlash, refuse to give privileges to abortion providers. That’s what happened in Mississippi, where a similar bill almost shut down the only abortion clinic in the state until a judge temporarily blocked the law.
Another bill in the NC legislature would allow for doctors who perform an abortion based on the fetus’s sex to be sued by the patient, the patient’s spouse, her parents, her siblings, her guardian, or her regular doctor. Healthcare professionals, on the other hand, say that there’s no evidence that abortions based on gender are an issue in our state and that 90% of abortions are done in the first term when gender isn’t known.
The next target of those looking to restrict women’s health choices is birth control. The legislature is now considering a bill that would allow employers to deny employees health coverage for birth control if they morally object.
As troubling as these bills seem, women’s rights organizations are distracted by an even more controversial claim: the latest pseudo-science theory around birth control is– that the uteruses of women who have been on birth control pills are littered with “little tiny fetuses,” turning them into “graveyards of lots and lots of little babies.”
The evidence for this comes from “certain doctors and certain scientists.” In North Carolina, that may be enough evidence for certain legislators to support laws equating birth control pills to abortions and establishing similar restrictions.
It doesn’t seem like too much to ask that our medical decisions and our laws be based in fact, especially when our lives, our well-being, and the health of our families are at stake.