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Political attacks on abortion legislate bad medicine

The latest wave of state legislation to restrict abortion access is based on bad medicine and would prevent doctors from providing medical care based on their judgment of what’s best for each patient. These bills include a new law in Arizona that forces doctors to tell women medication abortion can be reversed (which is simply untrue) and measures in Kansas and Oklahoma that ban abortion methods that are proven to be safe and effective.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and decades of research, abortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States.  In fact, data show abortion has a 99 percent safety record.  Abortion has no impact — none — on women’s future fertility; abortion does no harm to women’s mental health; and abortion has no relationship to breast cancer.

{mosads}Rather than work with the medical community to keep abortion safe and legal, some politicians have worked for years to pass laws they say are meant to enhance women’s health and safety, but in fact do the opposite.  These include laws that put restrictions on abortion providers that serve no medical purpose — laws that, in Texas, forced dozens of health centers providing safe and quality care to close and, in Wisconsin, were blocked by a federal judge who held the law would impose significant health risks on women in Wisconsin by significantly limiting access to legal abortions in that state. Some of these laws require doctors to use inferior, outdated and less effective protocols for early abortions provided by medication. Leading medical experts like Planned Parenthood, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association oppose these laws. 

Today abortion is safe, but we know it is safe because it is legal.  Because abortion is legal, it is taught in medical schools, it is subject to ongoing research, and it is subject to rigorous standards with multiple layers of oversight.  As a high-quality provider of medical care to women across America, ensuring the health and safety of our patients is fundamental to each and every health care provider who works at Planned Parenthood.       

It is unacceptable for politicians to force doctors, under penalty of law, to go against our training and expertise.  In fact, a new national poll found that despite Americans’ complicated feelings about abortion, nearly nine in 10 of them (87 percent) want a woman’s abortion experience to be informed by medically accurate information.                             

The politicians who are pushing bad medicine in the halls of Congress and state legislatures are on the wrong side of the medical community, of the American people — and on the wrong side of history.  While they continue to try to force their political beliefs in our exam rooms, it’s my very real fear that the health of women across America — our mothers, our sisters, and our daughters — will suffer again as it did many years ago.  We cannot go backward. Our leaders must be willing to put differences aside and keep the health and well-being of American women moving forward.

Cullins is vice president for external medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America.


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