National Partnership for Women & Families

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New version of Texas booklet for women seeking abortion care still contains inaccuracies exaggerating risk

A revised edition of a packet that Texas requires providers to give to a woman seeking abortion care still contains inaccuracies that overstate the risk of abortion care, the Washington Post's "Post Nation" reports (Somashekhar, "Post Nation," Washington Post, 12/6).

The new version was published on Monday (Wilson, Rewire, 12/6).

Background

Under an antiabortion-rights law (HB 15), Texas since 2003 has mandated that a woman receive the booklet before a medical professional provides abortion care.

Under the law, state officials are supposed to work with medical professionals to ensure the information is "objective," "nonjudgmental" and accurate. However, medical professionals have criticized the packet for its inclusion of medical inaccuracies. For instance, medical professionals have flagged the packet's medically unfounded claims that abortion care is linked to increased risk of infertility and breast cancer. Further, according to researchers at Rutgers University, more than 30 percent of details relating to embryonic and fetal development in the original packet were inaccurate.

On June 28, Texas officials formally proposed a new version of the packet, which they claimed to have developed with input from medical organizations. At the time, Carrie Williams, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said the state would consider comments before publishing the final version (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/28).

New edition published

According to Rewire, the latest version of the packet contains several medical inaccuracies that are common in antiabortion-rights literature. According to Rewire, the packet "emphasizes the medical risk of abortion care" despite statistics showing that receiving abortion care is safer than carrying a pregnancy to term in Texas (Rewire, 12/6). Six pages of the booklet speak to the "risks" and "side effects" of abortion care, while only two pages address the risks and side effects of pregnancy (Chang, Austin American-Statesman, 12/6).

The booklet also contains medically inaccurate implications about a link between abortion care and breast cancer (Rewire, 12/6). Specifically, the latest version of the packet directs a woman to "ask your doctor how your pregnancy will affect your risk of breast cancer." According to the packet, "doctors and scientists are actively studying the complex biology of breast cancer to understand whether abortion may affect the risk of breast cancer" ("A Woman's Right To Know," accessed 12/7).

However, research has debunked the notion of a link between abortion care and breast cancer, Rewire reports. For instance, the National Cancer Institute notes that "having an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman's subsequent risk of developing breast cancer." Further, according to the American Cancer Society, "Scientific research studies have not found a cause-and-effect relationship between abortion and breast cancer."

The booklet also notes that the state bans abortion care at 20 weeks "[i]n consideration of the potential for fetal pain." However, the claim that a fetus experiences pain at 20 weeks has been medically disproven (Rewire, 12/6). Further, the booklet claims that abortion is linked to depression and suicide ("Post Nation," Washington Post, 12/6).

Comments

In response to the latest packet, Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said the state is "playing politics with people's health care."

Busby said, "This pamphlet is riddled with errors and promotes misinformation designed to stigmatize abortion and dissuade women from making their own decisions about their health care." She continued, "The state health agency should not be in the business of providing propaganda and interfering in the doctor-patient relationship" (Rewire, 12/6).