Fact Check: Abortion Advocates’ Claim State Pro-Life Laws Endanger Lives of Pregnant Women Is False

The abortion industry and its allies in politics, the media, and establishment medicine have made the false claim that women’s health is endangered by state pro-life laws because abortions cannot be performed in these states when the life of the mother is at risk.

Legal and medical experts, however, are explaining how that claim is false and constitutes “misinformation,” since pro-life laws in all states clearly articulate the lives of pregnant women are protected under them.

The false claim has needlessly created fear following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on June 24 in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in which the Court held:

The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.

An analysis by scholars at the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI), the research arm of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, found “pregnant women’s lives are protected in all states.”

Attorney and CLI associate scholar Mary E. Harned, J.D. and OB/GYN Ingrid Skop, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., CLI senior fellow and director of medical affairs, write in the report of their analysis:

In the 23 states with one or more strong abortion bans that were unenforceable before the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, state officials are now either enforcing a ban or are working towards beginning enforcement. Each of these states permits abortion in those rare and heartbreaking circumstances when it is necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman. Physicians can make this determination based on their “reasonable medical judgment,” a standard very common in the medical profession and used for any case involving medical malpractice litigation.

The scholars assert nevertheless that “abortion advocates are spreading the dangerous lie that life-saving care is not or may not be permitted in these states, leading to provider confusion and poor outcomes for women.”

“A plain reading of any of these statutes easily refutes the false and dangerous misinformation being spread by pro-abortion activists,” Harned said in a statement regarding the false claim. She added:

Further, none of these laws prohibit a medical professional from acting as necessary when facing a life-threatening medical emergency. To claim otherwise is either ignorance of the law or willful misrepresentation at the expense of women and their unborn children who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

The analysis covers the areas of “miscarriage management, treatment for ectopic pregnancy, and medical conditions that could qualify as life-threatening, permitting abortion under pro-life laws.”

Regarding “miscarriage management,” for example, the scholars note:

A straightforward reading of laws restricting abortion of a living fetus provide clear evidence that treatment of miscarriage is not prohibited by law (as the intent is to remove a deceased fetus); nonetheless, widespread confusion and anecdotes of denied care necessitate discussion of miscarriage treatment, which can be similar to interventions used to provide elective abortion.

Harned and Skop also observe that although some state laws do not “explicitly exclude the treatment of ectopic pregnancy from the definition of abortion, its treatment is otherwise covered in any ‘life of the mother’ exception.”

“A failure to treat an ectopic pregnancy will inevitably lead to the death of the baby and possibly the death of the mother and has therefore never been considered abortion,” they explain.

“Over and over again, state pro-life laws, including in my home state of Texas, direct doctors to use their reasonable medical judgement,” Skop said in a statement, explaining further what is considered “reasonable”:

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has published dozens and dozens of bulletins that provide specific medical guidance for treating pregnant women experiencing both common and uncommon complications during pregnancy. When I read pro-abortion media reports quoting doctors as saying they are unsure what action they can take in the Dobbs era, I have to ask if the doctors have read the law and if they’ve read the ACOG bulletins that are commonly used as guidance by OB/GYNs.

“Treatment of an ectopic pregnancy is a common obstetric procedure that prevents potentially life-threatening hemorrhage,” Skop asserted. “It is not an induced abortion. Treatment of a miscarriage responds to the heartbreak of the spontaneous death of an unborn child, which is distinct from the intentional killing of a child in an induced abortion.”

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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].

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