Say What?

Debunking team Anti-Choice’s favorite terms

Anti-choice lawmakers have relied on shock-value nonmedical terms to rile their base when promoting reproductive health bills. The often gruesome descriptions of abortion sound more akin to horror scripts than what any reasonable medical professional would offer about the safe, legal procedure. While the right wing panders to their primary, the public suffers a wave of scientific misinformation, and laws become built on lies. Says Blake Rocap of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas: "The lack of knowledge of what is really happening doesn't lead to good policy or regulation. If you don't know the facts, you can't make the right laws." Instead of trying to guess, we asked Texas abortion physician Dr. Bhavik Kumar to help separate fact from fiction.

What Anti-Choice Lawmakers Say: "Dismemberment abortion"
What Medical Science Says: "Not a medical term. Anti-choice strategy appeared in North Dakota in 2014. Likely refers to the use of certain surgical instruments during a 'dilation and evacuation' (D&E) procedure, the safest and most common type of second-trimester abortion."

What Anti-Choice Lawmakers Say: "Partial-birth abortion"
What Medical Science Says: "Not a medical term. Coined by the National Right to Life Committee in 1995. Refers to intact dilation and extraction (D&X) procedure, federally banned by the 2007 Supreme Court Gonzales v. Carhart decision."

What Anti-Choice Lawmakers Say: "Fetal pain"
What Medical Science Says: "Suggests fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks gestation. Scientific consensus says this doesn't happen until at least the third trimester, and even then it's hard to determine."

What Anti-Choice Lawmakers Say: "Fetal age"
What Medical Science Says: "Not a medical term. Doctors use 'gestational age,' determined by ultrasound measurements or last menstrual period, to estimate pregnancy length."

What Anti-Choice Lawmakers Say: Conflating "embryonic tissue" with "fetal tissue"
What Medical Science Says: "An embryo is formed prior to development of parts, from fertilization to about 11 weeks gestation. Meanwhile, a fetus is formed after 11 weeks gestation."

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