Statement by The Very Reverend Katherine Ragsdale, Interim President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF) on President Trump’s anti-abortion remarks during the State of the Union Address:

We are not surprised President Trump seized another opportunity to use inflammatory rhetoric to appeal to his extreme anti-abortion base, even though such rhetoric shows an utter disregard for the facts. He, other anti-abortion politicians, and their extremist allies have amply demonstrated that they lack any grasp of the realities women and their health care providers face. 

Throughout her pregnancy, a woman must be able to make the health decisions that are best for her circumstances– without interference from politicians. This includes decisions about whether to end a pregnancy. Health care providers must have all options available to them to provide the best care based on their patient’s specific needs. 

This hostile environment built on anti-abortion extremist absurdities only makes the health care that one-in-four women will need by the time they are 45 years old more difficult both to provide and to access.

Extremists demonize abortion care in an effort to justify their whittling away at access to this health care for those who most need it. Furthermore, the inflammatory rhetoric itself jeopardizes the safety of health care providers. This demonization, by inciting violence, attempts to scare health care practitioners away from providing the care their patients need.

This most-recent campaign of inflammatory rhetoric and blatant misinformation has already led to our receiving multiple calls from abortion providers concerned for their safety. Anti-abortion extremists feel emboldened when they see elected officials spreading their propaganda. It is no surprise that during President Trump’s first year in office, abortion providers faced an increase in violence and disruption at their clinics —including the first attempted bombing in many years.

Tonight’s medically-inaccurate, inflammatory rhetoric is a reminder of why discussions about abortion care belong among women, their health care providers, and those they trust, not as the topic of a politically-charged State of the Union Address. 

 

BACKGROUND:

FACT: States have enacted more than 401 medically-unnecessary abortion restrictions since 2011 https://www.guttmacher.org/article/2018/01/policy-trends-states-2017

FACT: Banning abortion doesn’t stop abortion—it forces women to obtain abortion care later in a pregnancy. After a Texas’s anti-abortion law shut down safe abortion clinics, in 2014 the state saw a 27% increase in abortions after 12 weeks even as the total number of abortions dropped in the same year. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/more-second-trimester-abortions-occurred-under-texas-law-exclusive-n604246

FACT: After President Trump used inflammatory and medically-inaccurate anti-abortion rhetoric during his campaign and then addressed the March for Life in 2017, abortion providers reported 62 death threats or threats of harm by the end of his first year in office—up from 33 the year before. http://bit.ly/2017NAFStats

EXAMPLE of 2017 threat: “I will do anything and everything to stop the unmitigated murders of fetuses. I will do anything to stop the atrocities committed by your clinic every minute of every day at your clinic. You are all pieces of [expletive] and I will kill to stop these atrocities. I will blow you up if I have to, burn the clinic down. I will do whatever is necessary. I swear to God I will. After that you are in God’s hands and He will do His thing.”

FACT: Abortion is 14 times safer than childbirth https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22270271

FACT: 59% of women who obtain abortion care have previously given birth to one or more children https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states

FACT: 90% of all U.S. counties do not have an abortion clinic https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states

FACT: 61% of patients with private health insurance had to pay out-of-pocket for their abortion care https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states

FACT: After being denied an abortion, women are almost four times more likely to be living below the Federal Poverty Level than someone able to obtain abortion care. https://www.ansirh.org/sites/default/files/publications/files/turnaway_socioeconomic_outcomes_issue_brief_8-20-2018.pdf

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The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers. Our members include individuals, private and non-profit clinics, Planned Parenthood affiliates, women’s health centers, physicians’ offices, and hospitals who together care for approximately half the women who choose abortion in the U.S. and Canada each year. Our members also include public hospitals and both public and private clinics in Mexico City and private clinics in Colombia. Our mission is to ensure safe, legal, and accessible abortion care, which promotes health and justice for women.

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