Statement by The Very Reverend Katherine Ragsdale, Interim President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s 20-week abortion ban hearing:
Lying as a form of public discourse is not only immoral it is also corrosive to democracy—and we’ve seen it get people killed. It is not okay to accept such tactics as simply the way politics is done. It’s time to stand up and insist on discourse and decision making that are respectful; truthful; and, when it comes to abortion, are grounded in evidence-based science, medical best practices, and reality. That is not what we are expecting from anti-choice politicians and witnesses in the Senate Judiciary Committee today.
Anti-choice politicians on the committee and their witnesses will embrace the Trump/Pence tactic of using lies instead of evidence-based science to justify an unconstitutional abortion ban. Health care professionals from across the world have plainly stated that these claims made by anti-choice politicians are not based on science, reality, or current medical best practices. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Medical Association, and more have decried anti-abortion bans that deny women the ability to have open, unbiased, nonjudgmental conversations with their health care providers to determine the right medical decisions for them during their pregnancies. Yet anti-choice politicians and their extremist supporters eschew this medical expertise and choose to demonize women and their health care providers instead, creating an echo chamber with their fanatic cohorts at the state level.
This is not the first time that lies demonizing abortion providers and the women they help have found such fertile ground. In the 1980s and 90s, politicians looking for an issue to fundraise on, began spreading misinformation and lies about abortion providers that are echoed today. This language went unchecked and abortion providers were targeted by anti-choice extremists who were told they were stopping murderers. Shootings began. Fires. Bombings. A kidnapping. People chained themselves in an attempt to block clinic doors. I remember because I was there and so were many of our members.
It is time for anti-choice politicians and extremists to tell the truth. While some willingly admit their personal religious beliefs motivate their attempts to insert themselves between women and their health care providers, the majority choose to use demonizing and inflammatory rhetoric as a cudgel to attack the safe health care that 1-in-4 women will obtain by the time they are 45 years old. Those lies have consequences and it is not the anti-choice politicians who are facing those consequences; it is those who are denied abortion care and the providers targeted by threats, harassment, and violence who are. It is time for the demonizing of abortion providers and their patients to end.
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.