I have a piece at MSNBC today, about the newest front in the abortion wars: access to information. Several states have enacted or are trying to enact laws that require doctors and teachers to straight up lie to the people who take their impartiality for granted. Ohio has passed a law that yanks funding from state-funded rape crisis centres that counsel pregnant rape survivors about abortion.
In North Carolina, public school health teachers will, in all likelihood, soon be required to lie to their students, telling them that having an abortion will endanger future pregnancies. North Carolina’s SB 132 would require schools to teach seventh graders that abortion is a “preventable cause of preterm birth” (in addition to smoking, drinking, drug use, and inadequate prenatal care). There is no medical evidence to support this claim. The World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatricians, and the American Public Health Association “have all uniformly concluded that abortion does not cause prematurity,” according to one doctor’s testimony. North Carolina’s Republicans, however, do not seem to care about scientific facts.
In Ohio, access to information will now be restricted for rape survivors who are pregnant and facing the prospect of carrying a rapist’s child. The abortion restrictions–passed through amendments to the new state budget–make clear that no rape crisis center that receives state funding can counsel rape survivors about abortion. As I wrote here earlier, this is a gag rule reminiscent of the one the Bush administration imposed on health centers it funded in the developing world. This means that such centers are forced to choose: remain open, offering only some of the necessary information to survivors of rape, or shut and provide those people with no information or services at all. And it means that rape survivors who are pregnant as a result of rape will not be told about steps they can take to avoid carrying their rapists’ babies.
Kansas, thanks to laws passed earlier this year which have just gone into effect, will now restrict access to information for students and for patients. Doctors who perform abortions are no longer permitted to participate in sex education in public schools. They are also legally required to lie to their patients, telling those who seek abortions that after 20 weeks of gestation, fetuses can feel pain, a claim without scientific backing. Additionally, they must tell patients that “the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” Doctors are also legally required to inform their patients of a link between abortion and breast cancer–a link that the National Cancer Institute insists is non-existent.
You can read the whole thing here.