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Op-Ed: 'Latest Wave' of Antiabortion-Rights Laws 'Based on Bad Medicine'

Op-Ed: 'Latest Wave' of Antiabortion-Rights Laws 'Based on Bad Medicine'

April 21, 2015 — "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," Vanessa Cullins, vice president for external medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, writes in an opinion piece for The Hill's "Congress Blog."

For example, Cullins cites an Arizona law (SB 1318) that "forces doctors to tell women medication abortion can be reversed (which is simply untrue)" and measures in Kansas (SB 95) and Oklahoma (HB 1721) "that ban abortion methods that are proven to be safe and effective."

Cullins writes that, "[a]ccording to the [CDC] and decades of research, abortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States," with "a 99 percent safety record." However, she notes that despite this fact, "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," such as "laws that put restrictions on abortion providers that serve no medical purpose."

Cullins notes several examples, including a law (HB 2) in Texas that "forced dozens of health centers providing safe and quality care to close" and a measure in Wisconsin (Act 37) that was "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." Meanwhile, she notes that other such laws "require doctors to use inferior, outdated and less effective protocols for early abortions provided by medication."

"Today abortion is safe, but we know it is safe because it is legal," Cullins writes, explaining that because the procedure is legal, it can be "taught in medical schools," "subject to ongoing research" and "subject to rigorous standards with multiple layers of oversight."

She contends that lawmakers "who are pushing bad medicine in the halls of Congress and state legislatures are on the wrong side of the medical community [and] of the American people," adding that should their efforts succeed, "it's [her] very real fear that the health of women across America ... will suffer again as it did many years ago" (Cullins, "Congress Blog," The Hill, 4/17).