The state of Texas released a new draft of an informational pamphlet on abortion—and it contains numerous inaccuracies and biased information advocates say is meant to shame and scare women.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS)recently published a revised draft of a 2003 pamphlet that doctors are required to give to all women seeking to terminate a pregnancy. The draft persists in detailing factual inaccuracies already present in the original, including linking abortion to an increased risk of breast cancer and infertility, and reiterating the scientifically unproven claim that a fetus can begin feeling pain at 20 weeks.
The 2003 Texas Woman’s Right to Know Act forces doctors to give patients seeking abortion the DSHS pamphlet, whether or not the doctor finds the information relevant or accurate. Reproductive rights advocates argue that the pamphlet is biased, factually incorrect, and meant to shame women.
A study by Rutgers University found that 34 percent of the information in the 2003 version of the pamphlet was medically inaccurate, and preliminary findings show that the same is true for the new draft. In highlighting death as the most prominent health risk, for example, the pamphlet fails to detail that only five Texas women who had an abortion between 2001 and 2014 died from complications (less than 0.0005 percent), as opposed to the more than 1,000 Texas women who died from pregnancy-related causes during the same period.
The state claims they consulted with the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), though the group says none of its recommendations were incorporated into the draft of the new pamphlet. ACOG has sent a letter to DSHS voicing, “significant concerns with some of the material and how it is presented.”
As of the end of last week, DSHS began reviewing the more than 5,000 comments they received, including those from ACOG, evaluating the revised draft.