Politicians who oppose access to abortion in Virginia and beyond are spreading outrageous lies — trying to manipulate voters so they can push an agenda to ban abortion. Here’s how to spot the whoppers and what to know when you hear them.
Virginians overwhelmingly support the right to access safe, legal abortion. 85% of Virginians believe that abortion should remain legal. And Virginians want more health care, not less. That’s why lawmakers who support reproductive health care passed a bill in 2018 that allowed 400,000 Virginians to access affordable health care through Medicaid expansion. This may come as a surprise, but Medicaid is THE vital health care social safety net program for women. The program is the largest payer of reproductive health care coverage, and over half of adult enrollees are women.
4 Things People Say to Mislead You About Abortion
We don’t like to repeat lies, so we’re not going to here. But politicians and activists who oppose abortion are trying to stigmatize abortion and demonize the people who access it — so we’ll pinpoint some of the key phrases they use. Statements with these phrases can leave anyone feeling confused, so we’re also including some facts every Virginian needs to know.
1. “Infanticide” or “fourth-term abortion”
Anti-abortion politicians are pushing these made up phrases and the idea that a person in labor or who has already given birth can somehow get an abortion. That’s simply not how medical care works, and it’s irresponsible to imply that it is.
Abortion is not infanticide. Abortion is health care. Infanticide is the crime of killing an infant — something that doesn’t happen in medical care and which is already illegal.
The way anti-abortion politicians and groups are characterizing safe, legal abortion is completely inaccurate. If a woman is in labor, she couldn’t and wouldn’t have an abortion. That suggestion is not only misleading, it’s callous.
2. “Abortion until birth”
Politicians use this inflammatory label to stir up outrage and manufacture controversy. This, too, simply doesn’t happen — and the phrase demonizes the people who seek safe, legal abortion and the doctors who provide their care. These same politicians often support and have voted for laws that delay abortions and effectively make it more difficult to access.
The vast majority of abortions occur early in pregnancy. Decisions about abortion later in pregnancy are deeply personal — and no politician should pretend to know a pregnant person’s circumstances, or try to make those decisions for them.
To be clear: there’s no such thing as abortion up until birth. This is a made-up term meant to stigmatize abortion and push an agenda to ban it altogether — an agenda that is unpopular.
In a very small percentage of circumstances (less than 1%), someone may need an abortion later in pregnancy — before, never during, birth — often because of very challenging circumstances, such as when something in the pregnancy has gone very wrong and a person’s life or health is in danger. Women and families in these situations face devastating decisions. They deserve compassion and support, not judgment — and certainly not politicians telling them what to do.
3. “Baby parts,” “‘Defunding’ Planned Parenthood,” and “taxpayer dollars”
In 2015, anti-abortion extremists released deceptively edited smear videos that made false claims about how Planned Parenthood health centers handle fetal tissue. The videos were completely debunked and Planned Parenthood was cleared of all wrongdoing, but anti-abortion politicians and activists are still citing these videos as reasons they’re trying to “defund” Planned Parenthood health centers and block patients from care.
In characterizing “defund” proposals, anti-Planned Parenthood people inaccurately say that such legislation simply redirects funds to other clinics and doesn’t cut off funding for contraception, cancer screenings, and other treatments. But this isn’t how it really works — because there simply aren’t enough reproductive health-care providers to pick up the slack for the care Planned Parenthood centers provide.
Here’s what is true: Dozens of national polls show that a clear majority of Americans support Planned Parenthood. That includes a PerryUndem poll, which found that even 57% of Trump voters oppose “defunding” the care Planned Parenthood health centers provide.
Health centers that provide abortion services, like Planned Parenthood health centers, play an irreplaceable role in helping people in Virginia get the care they need. “Defunding” doesn’t mean fewer women will seek abortion care: It means patients who depend on public health care funds will be blocked from getting their birth control and other preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers.
4. “Women’s health” and “regulations”
Anti-abortion politicians inaccurately say that targeted restrictions on abortion providers (TRAP), such as requiring providers to have admitting privileges at hospitals, ensure the health and safety of pregnant people. This is simply not true.
Here are the facts: Virginia patients face huge hurdles in accessing safe and legal abortion — including a two-trip mandatory delay and state-mandated ultrasound, as well as TRAP laws that were designed to close health centers. These restrictions do nothing to improve patient care — because both in-clinic and medication abortions are among the safest medical procedures — and are designed to make abortion more difficult to access.
Coordinated efforts to target abortion providers have been shown to restrict access to health services for communities that already face disproportionate barriers to care. The U.S. Supreme Court found in 2017 that TRAP laws can place an undue burden on people seeking care, by making abortion harder to access without any evidence such laws make women any safer. (Despite its 2017 holding, the Supreme Court has recently taken up a close-to-identical case.)
The Bottom Line
Once we debunk the misleading rhetoric, what’s at stake in this election becomes clear: Virginians’ constitutional rights and freedoms — including the right to safe, legal abortion.
Those who oppose reproductive health care and rights want to ban safe, legal abortion entirely. They’ll say or do anything to derail attempts to protect access to abortion — including making up outlandish accusations with no basis in fact or medical science. These claims are offensive and untrue, and we won’t stand for them.