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Democracy

Yes, Ted Cruz, pregnancy can be a life-threatening condition. Especially in America.

Yes, Ted Cruz, pregnancy can be a life-threatening condition. Especially in America.
Wikimedia Commons, Senator Ted Cruz/Twitter

I tend to avoid addressing specific politicians and prefer to stay out of the partisan political fray. But occasionally a politician will say something so silly, absurd, or flat-out wrong in an attempt to support a position that it needs to be called out.

For the record, I consider myself personally anti-abortion and politically pro-choice. I wrote a whole article explaining that stance, which you can read here. But on a basic level, I am sympathetic to the folks who want to stop abortions. I want there to be as few abortions as possible (which is why I support legislation that has actually shown to reduce them, such as easy, affordable access to birth control and universal healthcare).

So when I say that Senator Ted Cruz's tweet about the abortion pill is a big pile of hooey, understand that I'm not coming from a super pro-abortion stance. I'm coming from the let's-do-what-makes-the-most-sense stance. And this tweet does not make sense.


Alright, let's break this down. First of all, no, pregnancy is not a life-threatening illness because it's not an illness at all. It is, however, a medical condition that can indeed be life-threatening. Most pregnancies are not, of course, but that doesn't mean it never is.

In fact, the U.S. has the worst maternal mortality rate in the entire developed world, and it's not even close. We're also the only nation in the developed world where that death rate is rising.

Officially, more than 650 women die from pregnancy-related causes in the United States in 2018, but experts say that estimate doesn't even capture all such deaths. And how many don't die because they are able to terminate a pregnancy that would have killed them? Because yes, sometimes people have to make terrible choices between continuing a pregnancy and saving their own life.

The claim that Mifeprex is dangerous is also not particularly convincing, using Cruz and his colleagues' own numbers. In their letter to the FDA, they state that this pill has resulted in 24 deaths out of 3.7 million uses. Considering the fact that there approximately 3.8 million babies born every year, with more than 650 maternal deaths, it would appear that statistically speaking pregnancy is far more "dangerous" for women than the abortion pill.

As Dr. Eugene Gu pointed out, serious complications are also more likely for pregnancy than for use of Mifeprex.

Of course, Cruz's real beef with Mifeprex is that it induces abortion, which in his view is synonymous with murder. So, of course he's going to make any argument he can against it.

If he wants to make the murder argument, he's more than welcome to do that and let people debate it. But to represent pregnancy as non-life-threatening while trying to paint an abortion pill as dangerous is either ignorant or dishonest or both.

This is why so many of women don't think the government—which is still mostly made up of men who are not doctors—has any business making medical decisions for us. Let the FDA make its own determinations based on science and data, without being pushed by what a group of senators believe.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

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This article originally appeared on 04.09.16


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