Last week, the Department of State Health Services closed the public comment period for the latest revisions to a booklet titled “So You’re Pregnant, Now What?” This booklet, which the state of Texas requires pregnant minors to read, contains gross misinformation about the possible risks of abortion such as breast cancer, depression and future infertility. Even though these claims have all been debunked by various medical organizations, DSHS decided to include them in the latest revision of the booklet.
The state has no business interfering in the doctor-patient relationship by providing lies and misinformation to pregnant minors considering their options. NARAL Pro-Choice Texas submitted public comments on the booklet revisions to the Department of State Health Services. The full comments are available below.
April 11, 2018
Department of State Health Services
Sent via email to [email protected]
To Whom It May Concern,
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the revisions to the “So You’re Pregnant, Now What?” booklet.
NARAL Pro-Choice Texas opposes state interference with the doctor-patient relationship and in a minor’s decision about her pregnancy. In publishing lies about abortion and using inflammatory language, this latest version of the “So You’re Pregnant, Now What?” booklet shames and stigmatizes abortion care and provides scientifically inaccurate information designed to mislead pregnant minors.
The booklet shows extreme bias against abortion when covering the risks of abortion vs. the risks of carrying a pregnancy to term. The health risks of carrying a pregnancy to term far outweigh those of elective abortion. And death is listed at the top of the list of risks, although abortion is one of the safest outpatient procedures and far safer than childbirth, which carries a risk of death 14 times higher than abortion.
Much like the error-riddled “A Woman’ Right to Know” pamphlet, this booklet refers to a pregnancy at any stage as “your baby” throughout, even though it disclaims this language by noting that the correct term at certain stages of development is embryo and fetus. In fact researchers have found that more than one third of the statements about embryonic development are inaccurate.
Further, the revisions to the booklet include strong links between abortion and breast cancer, a claim that has been thoroughly debunked by major medical organizations. And the emotional effects of abortion are skewed toward the negative, although other studies have concluded most women feel abortion was the right decision for them and negative feelings are more accurately associated with shame and stigma, which, ironically, this booklet appears to perpetuate. As peer-reviewed studies have determined, the so-called research from those such as the repeatedly discredited Vincent Rue is not replicable and this “post-abortion syndrome” has been debunked and discredited.
Moreover, the revised booklet goes on to list physical risks, mental health risks and future infertility as risks of abortion. Recent nonpartisan research has debunked these claims and found that abortion has no impact on a minor’s future fertility or likelihood to experience mental health disorders. The research also found that it is medically unnecessary anti-abortion regulations that put patient health and safety at risk.
Informed consent is a vital component of ethical healthcare, but this booklet does not contribute to a patient centered decision making process. It is misinformation intended to coerce minors and perpetuate fear and stigma. This booklet has been influenced and driven by political ideology, not medicine or science, and we believe that pregnant minors deserve better than this.
Informing pregnant minors in a pamphlet published by the state about risks that are not scientifically supported and are in fact invalidated by scientific research violates the public trust. Texas and the Department of State Health Services should not produce pamphlets with inaccurate information for distribution to Texans, no matter their age. Pregnant people deserve unbiased, medically accurate information so that they can make decisions about their health and their lives free from coercion, fear or shame.
We respectfully ask that you revise it to be an objective, unbiased resource that does not attempt to unduly influence patients. All information contained therein should be supported by the National Institute of Health and mainstream medical and psychological groups, such as the American Medical Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Psychological Association.
Communications and Policy Initiatives Director
NARAL Pro-Choice Texas