Real Women’s Health Care Doesn’t Require Killing

Published June 4, 2024


This morning, the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hosted a public hearing designed to frighten Americans about the state of women’s health care in the two years since the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

The title of the hearing sums up what Democrats were hoping viewers would take away from the event: “The Assault on Women’s Freedoms: How Abortion Bans Have Created a Health Care Nightmare Across America.”

But the hearing did little to establish that this supposed nightmare is a reality. Senators Bernie Sanders (I., N.H.) and Patti Murray (D., Wash.) opened with typical pro-abortion question-begging. Sanders asserted that Dobbs had “abolished the constitutional right to abortion,” when in reality the majority opinion established quite convincingly that the Constitution never contained a right to abortion in the first place. He compared Roe v. Wade and legal abortion to historical advances for women such as winning the right to vote or being able to attend the college of their choice.

Murray’s remarks, meanwhile, centered on the theme that “women who don’t want to be pregnant for whatever reason . . . are [now] told by politicians they have no say in the matter.” But, of course, pro-life laws don’t force women to become pregnant; they require women who have already become pregnant not to kill their unborn child. The time to decide whether you want to be pregnant, in other words, is well before becoming “unpregnant” requires killing another human being who depends on you and is your responsibility. What Murray really means to say is that women should be able to have sex at any time, even when they wish not to become pregnant, and to subsequently end the life of any child who might come into being as a result of their actions.

The four witnesses called by Democrats were similarly disingenuous. Doctors and public-health leaders from pro-abortion groups such as Physicians for Reproductive Health, the Guttmacher Institute, and Planned Parenthood offered now-common falsehoods about how pro-life laws make it impossible for doctors to treat pregnant women in health-care emergencies. A fourth witness spoke about seeking an abortion as a college student and lamented the burden of needing to travel out of state because of pro-life laws.

All of these arguments are undergirded by one primary lie: the notion that abortion is health care. If abortion is simply a health-care procedure, then there’s no reason why women shouldn’t have sex even when they know they don’t want to become pregnant and then use abortion as a form of emergency contraception. If abortion is simply a health-care procedure, there’s no reason for politicians to make it difficult to access. If abortion is simply a health-care procedure, there’s no reason not to view it as one acceptable option among many for treating pregnant women.

But abortion isn’t health care. Induced abortion intentionally ends the life of the child in the womb—the opposite of true health care, which aims to heal—and it is never medically necessary. Even in cases when a pregnant mother’s life is at risk, directly killing the unborn child never helps to treat the mother’s condition. In some cases, such as with uterine cancer or an ectopic pregnancy, treatment aimed at saving the mother’s life may have the unintended effect of harming or even killing her unborn child. In other cases, a pregnant mother may need to deliver early in order to save her life, even if her child isn’t developed enough to survive outside the womb.

None of these procedures is a direct abortion, however, because none aims to kill the unborn child; in each case, the doctor treats both mother and baby as patients, aiming to save both lives whenever possible. As Republican witness Christina Francis—CEO of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists and herself an OB-GYN—pointed out in her testimony during the hearing, doctors who care for pregnant women know that “real health care takes care of both mother and baby.”

What’s more, none of these types of treatment is illegal under existing pro-life laws, and no pro-lifers are advocating making them illegal. The pro-life view is that both mother and baby deserve care, and treating both patients never prevents doctors from offering life-saving care to mothers. “Pro-life laws have not created a women’s health-care nightmare. The idea that induced abortion is the only way women can be successful or healthy has,” Francis said.

She noted the irony that abortion defenders who claim to support women’s health care simultaneously advocate allowing women to obtain chemical-abortion drugs via telemedicine without ever seeing a physician in person. And she pointed out that complications such as ectopic pregnancy, left undetected due to lack of physician oversight, make chemical abortions especially dangerous to women’s health.

Francis also made the point that abortion supporters campaign against abortion-pill reversal, a safe and often effective method of halting a chemical abortion in progress if a woman decides she doesn’t want to go through with the abortion: “If we’re really supportive of women having choices, we should support their choice if they decide that they regret their abortion and would like to save their child’s life,” she said. (For more on how abortion-pill reversal works, see this article of mine.)

This hearing revealed once again what was already true long before Dobbs: The pro-abortion creed, embraced by nearly all Democratic politicians at the national level, demands legal abortion for any reason, at all stages of pregnancy up until birth, funded by the U.S. taxpayer. They are unwilling to identify a single instance in which abortion is unacceptable or to draw a single legal line limiting abortion procedures or regulating it to provide safety measures for women. The primary fiction that enables them to obscure the extremism of this position is the claim that abortion is routine women’s health care. Today’s hearing aimed to entrench this view even further in the public imagination; anyone listening closely would have taken away quite the opposite message.

If you’d like to watch a recording of the hearing, you can find it at this link. Dr. Francis’s testimony begins just after the one-hour mark.

EPPC Fellow Alexandra DeSanctis writes on culture and family issues, with a particular focus on abortion policy and pro-life advocacy, as a member of the Life and Family Initiative.

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