This week, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) released their newest edition of “A Woman’s Right to Know”, a booklet filled with factual inaccuracies and falsehoods required by state law to be given to women before undergoing an abortion.
In 2003, Texas passed a belittling anti-abortion law, known as the Woman’s Right to Know Act that mandated women receive fetal development information 24 hours prior to receiving abortion services. The law clearly states that the information and distributed materials must “be objective and nonjudgmental and be designed to convey only accurate scientific information about the unborn child at the various gestational ages.” The booklet, “A Woman’s Right to Know” is a direct result of this law and is far from being objective, nonjudgmental or scientifically accurate.
The drafted version of the booklet released in July contained numerous falsities and was highly contested by advocates, scientists and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The DSHS reviewed over 5,000 comments on the draft, yet many of the controversial sections remain the same in the final version published this week.
Included in the booklet is the debunked claim that an abortion procedure is linked to increased rates of breast cancer. This theory has been discredited by several medical groups, including the American Cancer Society who has refuted the correlation, stating “scientific research studies have not found a cause-and-effect relationship between abortion and breast cancer.” The booklet contains multiple other fabricated abortion “risks”, including infertility, suicidal ideations and depression.
To add to the falsehoods, one section of the pamphlet promotes the scientifically unproven assertion that fetuses feel pain once they reach 20 weeks, claiming “we know babies develop the ability to feel pain while in the womb.” Biased, anti-abortion rhetoric accompanies the scientific inaccuracies throughout the publication, serving to humanize the fetus and send a message of shame and fear to women.
The publication of “A Woman’s Right to Know” follows Texas’s recent decision to require fetal burial or cremation after an abortion. The new rules, which further Republican lawmaker’s anti-abortion agenda, were approved by the Texas Department of Health and Human Services and are set to go into effect on December 19th.