Roundup: Women Fight Against Violence, Romney’s Sex Ed Hypocrisy

Brady Swenson

Women fight to put violence on global agenda; San Francisco Chronicle warns proposition 4 threatens choice; Mitt Romney's sex ed hypocrisy; British org publishes sex ed booklet for six-year-old students; Progress on fight against TB/HIV; Tyra Banks takes on teen pregnancy.

Women Fight to Put Violence on Global Agenda

Women are working to maintain momentum in the effort to curb the global epidemic of violence against women.  Earlier this year United Nations Secretary General reinvigorated the UN’s efforts in this area with a new resolution to "eliminate rape and other forms of sexual violence," and some stirring words:

Violence against women is an issue that cannot wait. A brief look at
the statistics makes it clear. At least one out of every three women is
likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her
lifetime. Through the practice of prenatal sex selection, countless
others are denied the right even to exist. No country, no culture, no
woman young or old is immune to this scourge. Far too often, the crimes
go unpunished, the perpetrators walk free.

It is a
campaign for the women and girls who have the right to live free of
violence, today and in the future. It is a campaign to stop the untold
cost that violence against women inflicts on all humankind.

This week UNIFEM director Inés Alberdi is working to keep the pressure on with testimony before UN committees from victims of gender violence:

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

But it is an issue with a lot of faces, like Joyce, who
was raped during the post-election violence in Kenya, and Tanya, who is
a survivor of domestic violence in New York City.

"My husband beat me when I was pregnant with his son.
He isolated me from my family and held me like a hostage in our home,"
42-year-old Tanya told IPS. After about four years of fear and
suffering, when her husband killed the dog and threatened her children,
she left.

Progress is beginning to be made with member states working to create new laws and more strictly enforce existing laws to curb violence against women:

U.N. officials point out that the fight against
gender-based violence is making progress on some fronts. "More
governments than ever are having violence against women on their
agenda," Maria José Alcalá, a senior advisor at UNIFEM, told IPS.

Now is a "most historic opportunity" to "change hearts
and minds", to overcome "limited political will of many countries" and
to stop them declaring violence against women a private matter — a
women’s issue — she added.

Even though the problem is not explicitly addressed by
the MDGs, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized in his latest report
to the General Assembly that sexual violence is a human rights issue
that poses a serious obstacle to the consolidation of peace and the
achievement of the broader MDGs.

"The prevalence of gender-based violence has serious
repercussions, including exposure to HIV/AIDS, other sexually
transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy and the abandonment of victims
by their families," he pointed out.

With many member states starting to implement a
resolution on "eliminating rape and other forms of sexual violence"
that the General Assembly passed in February, the secretary-general
will report on this progress at the General Assembly’s upcoming session
next week.

Thailand, for example, amended its criminal code to
expand the definition of rape so that all types of sexual penetration
are covered by the law. Fifteen of the 28 African states where female
genital mutilation (FGM) is prevalent have made it an offence under
criminal law. And Turkey, Venezuela and Mexico enacted laws to
criminalize domestic violence.

In Kenya, the so-called Waki Commission of Inquiry
is investigating acts of sexual violence committed during the
post-election turmoil at the start of this year. Countries like
Algeria, Bulgaria, Chile, Germany, the former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia and Vietnam concluded several bilateral arrangements to fight
violence against women together.


San Francisco Chronicle: Proposition 4 Would Undermine Abortion Rights

The editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle warns California voters that Proposition 4, the ‘parental notification’ proposition, "follows the basic approach of its predecessors," both of which were defeated:

As we have said before, the arguments for parental notification may
sound reasonable, but the real-world experience of the medical
professionals who deal with scared pregnant teens suggest its
requirements are unnecessary – and even insidious. Planned Parenthood,
for example, strongly encourages young women to overcome their
reluctance to tell their parents before an abortion is performed. The
vast majority do.

Once again, the architects of parental notification – which includes
dedicated foes of abortion rights – have crafted exceptions that were
designed to appease concerns, but are cumbersome to the point of
cruelty for a teen in crisis. In the latest version, a physician could
notify an adult relative other than a parent if the patient claimed
physical, sexual or severe emotional abuse – and the doctor reported those allegations to law enforcement or Child Protective Services.

More than a decade ago, the California Supreme Court clearly
affirmed that a young woman’s right to an abortion was protected by the
state constitution’s strong privacy rights. Proposition 4 represents
yet another attempt to undermine that right. The practical effect of
this measure would be to put many young women at risk by delaying
abortion procedures, and thus making them more medically complicated.

Supporters of Proposition 4 claim to have the best of motives:
promotion of family communication and prevention of teen pregnancies.
We share both goals, but not this method to achieve them.

Family communication cannot be forged by government edict, and
reckless teen behavior will not be deterred by merely making abortion
more difficult. Unplanned pregnancies occur because young people are
either ignorant of the consequences – or oblivious to them.

Proposition 4 will not change that. Voters should reject it.


Mitt Romney’s Political Hypocrisy on Sex Education

Think Progress has a great post up picking apart the hypocrisy in recent attempts by Mitt Romney to defend a misleading McCain campaign advertisement on sex education.  Click over to Think Progress to see video of Romney saying:

Well, the specific bill that he, the specific bill that Barack Obama
voted for calls for sex education beginning as low as the kindergarten
and it includes in that bill language which says that each class is to
learn about sexually transmitted diseases. And in my opinion,
and John McCain and I share the same view, the only sex education
that’s appropriate in kindergarten is no sex education

The problem is that Romney’s made-for-TV soundbyte does not match his record on sex education:

As ABC News pointed out recently, Massachusetts established a set of K-12 goals
for the teaching of sex education prior to Romney’s term as governor.
“Those standards remained in place” during his tenure and “he did not challenge them.”

Romney has also previously stated his support for “responsible, age-appropriate, factually accurate” sex education:

Planned Parenthood: Do you support the teaching of responsible, age-appropriate, factually accurate health and sexuality education, including information about both abstinence and contraception, in public schools?

Romney: Yes.

The bill cited by McCain, which Obama voted for in the Illinois State Senate, mandated that all sex education “be age and developmentally appropriate.”
Additionally, as MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski told Romney, under the
legislation, “what kindergartners would have been learning is how to
protect themselves from predators.”


British Organization Publishes Educational Booklet For Six-Year-Olds

Britain’s FPA, a non-profit organization, has published a sex education booklet that aims to teach six-year-old students basic facts of human anatomy:

The 12-page comic-style booklet, which will be distributed to schools, asks
children to identify the physical differences between boys and girls and
name their body parts properly. 

The announcement has sparked concern and worry in some camps that teaching sex education to young students is the province of parents and that breaching the subject at such a young age will "break down children’s inhibitions and natural sense of modesty."  The FPA has countered by saying that six is not too young to begin teaching children about their bodies:

On the contrary it was a good chance to get the conversation going because
children were not self-conscious or embarrassed about their bodies at that

“The booklet answers the questions that six-year-olds are already asking about
themselves, their families and the world around them,” said Julie Bentley,
chief executive of the FPA.

“Introducing ideas about love, relationships and body names at a very basic
level, when children are inquisitive and want to learn, lays a foundation
for learning when they’re much older and ready to find out more.”

Mortality Can Be Significantly Reduced for TB/HIV Patients

A recently concluded three year trial in South Africa has shown that "mortality among tuberculosis (TB) and HIV co-infected patients can be
reduced by 55 percent, if antiretroviral therapy (ART) is provided with
TB treatment."  The South African Center for AIDS Program Research is now looking to team up with other organizations, like PEPFAR, to bring these effective new treatment methods to scale in Africa:

"The study shows that integrating TB and HIV treatment and care saves lives…," said Karim.

"The results provide compelling evidence to support the World Health
Organisation’s call for the greater collaboration between TB and HIV
treatment services…"

The co-ordinator of the United States President’s Emergency Plan for
Aids Relief (Pepfar) Mark Dybul said the scaling up of collaborative
TB/HIV activities was a priority for the organization.

"We remain committed to increasing screening for both HIV and TB, which
will allow greater numbers of patients to benefit from these study


Tyra Banks to Take on Teen Pregnancy

Afternoon talk show host Tyra Banks will sit down with 10 teen girls, most of whom are pregnant, on her show today.  The show says that a recent web survey of 10,000 teens reveals that "64% of teen girls are having sex, one in five say they want to be teen
moms, and more than 50% of sexually active teens don’t use protection.
Some say they want ‘baby bumps’ like their favorite celebs, while
others feel a baby will restore a broken relationship." You can catch a video preview of the episode at the show’s website.


Roundups Sexual Health

This Week in Sex: The Sexually Transmitted Infections Edition

Martha Kempner

A new Zika case suggests the virus can be transmitted from an infected woman to a male partner. And, in other news, HPV-related cancers are on the rise, and an experimental chlamydia vaccine shows signs of promise.

This Week in Sex is a weekly summary of news and research related to sexual behavior, sexuality education, contraception, STIs, and more.

Zika May Have Been Sexually Transmitted From a Woman to Her Male Partner

A new case suggests that males may be infected with the Zika virus through unprotected sex with female partners. Researchers have known for a while that men can infect their partners through penetrative sexual intercourse, but this is the first suspected case of sexual transmission from a woman.

The case involves a New York City woman who is in her early 20s and traveled to a country with high rates of the mosquito-borne virus (her name and the specific country where she traveled have not been released). The woman, who experienced stomach cramps and a headache while waiting for her flight back to New York, reported one act of sexual intercourse without a condom the day she returned from her trip. The following day, her symptoms became worse and included fever, fatigue, a rash, and tingling in her hands and feet. Two days later, she visited her primary-care provider and tests confirmed she had the Zika virus.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

A few days after that (seven days after intercourse), her male partner, also in his 20s, began feeling similar symptoms. He had a rash, a fever, and also conjunctivitis (pink eye). He, too, was diagnosed with Zika. After meeting with him, public health officials in the New York City confirmed that he had not traveled out of the country nor had he been recently bit by a mosquito. This leaves sexual transmission from his partner as the most likely cause of his infection, though further tests are being done.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s recommendations for preventing Zika have been based on the assumption that virus was spread from a male to a receptive partner. Therefore the recommendations had been that pregnant women whose male partners had traveled or lived in a place where Zika virus is spreading use condoms or abstain from sex during the pregnancy. For those couples for whom pregnancy is not an issue, the CDC recommended that men who had traveled to countries with Zika outbreaks and had symptoms of the virus, use condoms or abstain from sex for six months after their trip. It also suggested that men who traveled but don’t have symptoms use condoms for at least eight weeks.

Based on this case—the first to suggest female-to-male transmission—the CDC may extend these recommendations to couples in which a female traveled to a country with an outbreak.

More Signs of Gonorrhea’s Growing Antibiotic Resistance

Last week, the CDC released new data on gonorrhea and warned once again that the bacteria that causes this common sexually transmitted infection (STI) is becoming resistant to the antibiotics used to treat it.

There are about 350,000 cases of gonorrhea reported each year, but it is estimated that 800,000 cases really occur with many going undiagnosed and untreated. Once easily treatable with antibiotics, the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae has steadily gained resistance to whole classes of antibiotics over the decades. By the 1980s, penicillin no longer worked to treat it, and in 2007 the CDC stopped recommending the use of fluoroquinolones. Now, cephalosporins are the only class of drugs that work. The recommended treatment involves a combination of ceftriaxone (an injectable cephalosporin) and azithromycin (an oral antibiotic).

Unfortunately, the data released last week—which comes from analysis of more than 5,000 samples of gonorrhea (called isolates) collected from STI clinics across the country—shows that the bacteria is developing resistance to these drugs as well. In fact, the percentage of gonorrhea isolates with decreased susceptibility to azithromycin increased more than 300 percent between 2013 and 2014 (from 0.6 percent to 2.5 percent).

Though no cases of treatment failure has been reported in the United States, this is a troubling sign of what may be coming. Dr. Gail Bolan, director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, said in a press release: “It is unclear how long the combination therapy of azithromycin and ceftriaxone will be effective if the increases in resistance persists. We need to push forward on multiple fronts to ensure we can continue offering successful treatment to those who need it.”

HPV-Related Cancers Up Despite Vaccine 

The CDC also released new data this month showing an increase in HPV-associated cancers between 2008 and 2012 compared with the previous five-year period. HPV or human papillomavirus is an extremely common sexually transmitted infection. In fact, HPV is so common that the CDC believes most sexually active adults will get it at some point in their lives. Many cases of HPV clear spontaneously with no medical intervention, but certain types of the virus cause cancer of the cervix, vulva, penis, anus, mouth, and neck.

The CDC’s new data suggests that an average of 38,793 HPV-associated cancers were diagnosed each year between 2008 and 2012. This is a 17 percent increase from about 33,000 each year between 2004 and 2008. This is a particularly unfortunate trend given that the newest available vaccine—Gardasil 9—can prevent the types of HPV most often linked to cancer. In fact, researchers estimated that the majority of cancers found in the recent data (about 28,000 each year) were caused by types of the virus that could be prevented by the vaccine.

Unfortunately, as Rewire has reported, the vaccine is often mired in controversy and far fewer young people have received it than get most other recommended vaccines. In 2014, only 40 percent of girls and 22 percent of boys ages 13 to 17 had received all three recommended doses of the vaccine. In comparison, nearly 80 percent of young people in this age group had received the vaccine that protects against meningitis.

In response to the newest data, Dr. Electra Paskett, co-director of the Cancer Control Research Program at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, told HealthDay:

In order to increase HPV vaccination rates, we must change the perception of the HPV vaccine from something that prevents a sexually transmitted disease to a vaccine that prevents cancer. Every parent should ask the question: If there was a vaccine I could give my child that would prevent them from developing six different cancers, would I give it to them? The answer would be a resounding yes—and we would have a dramatic decrease in HPV-related cancers across the globe.

Making Inroads Toward a Chlamydia Vaccine

An article published in the journal Vaccine shows that researchers have made progress with a new vaccine to prevent chlamydia. According to lead researcher David Bulir of the M. G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at Canada’s McMaster University, efforts to create a vaccine have been underway for decades, but this is the first formulation to show success.

In 2014, there were 1.4 million reported cases of chlamydia in the United States. While this bacterial infection can be easily treated with antibiotics, it often goes undiagnosed because many people show no symptoms. Untreated chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can leave scar tissue in the fallopian tubes or uterus and ultimately result in infertility.

The experimental vaccine was created by Canadian researchers who used pieces of the bacteria that causes chlamydia to form an antigen they called BD584. The hope was that the antigen could prompt the body’s immune system to fight the chlamydia bacteria if exposed to it.

Researchers gave BD584 to mice using a nasal spray, and then exposed them to chlamydia. The results were very promising. The mice who received the spray cleared the infection faster than the mice who did not. Moreover, the mice given the nasal spray were less likely to show symptoms of infection, such as bacterial shedding from the vagina or fluid blockages of the fallopian tubes.

There are many steps to go before this vaccine could become available. The researchers need to test it on other strains of the bacteria and in other animals before testing it in humans. And, of course, experience with the HPV vaccine shows that there’s work to be done to make sure people get vaccines that prevent STIs even after they’re invented. Nonetheless, a vaccine to prevent chlamydia would be a great victory in our ongoing fight against STIs and their health consequences, and we here at This Week in Sex are happy to end on a bit of a positive note.

Analysis Politics

The 2016 Republican Platform Is Riddled With Conservative Abortion Myths

Ally Boguhn

Anti-choice activists and leaders have embraced the Republican platform, which relies on a series of falsehoods about reproductive health care.

Republicans voted to ratify their 2016 platform this week, codifying what many deem one of the most extreme platforms ever accepted by the party.

“Platforms are traditionally written by and for the party faithful and largely ignored by everyone else,” wrote the New York Times‘ editorial board Monday. “But this year, the Republicans are putting out an agenda that demands notice.”

“It is as though, rather than trying to reconcile Mr. Trump’s heretical views with conservative orthodoxy, the writers of the platform simply opted to go with the most extreme version of every position,” it continued. “Tailored to Mr. Trump’s impulsive bluster, this document lays bare just how much the G.O.P. is driven by a regressive, extremist inner core.”

Tucked away in the 66-page document accepted by Republicans as their official guide to “the Party’s principles and policies” are countless resolutions that seem to back up the Times‘ assertion that the platform is “the most extreme” ever put forth by the party, including: rolling back marriage equalitydeclaring pornography a “public health crisis”; and codifying the Hyde Amendment to permanently block federal funding for abortion.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Anti-choice activists and leaders have embraced the platform, which the Susan B. Anthony List deemed the “Most Pro-life Platform Ever” in a press release upon the GOP’s Monday vote at the convention. “The Republican platform has always been strong when it comes to protecting unborn children, their mothers, and the conscience rights of pro-life Americans,” said the organization’s president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, in a statement. “The platform ratified today takes that stand from good to great.”  

Operation Rescue, an organization known for its radical tactics and links to violence, similarly declared the platform a “victory,” noting its inclusion of so-called personhood language, which could ban abortion and many forms of contraception. “We are celebrating today on the streets of Cleveland. We got everything we have asked for in the party platform,” said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, in a statement posted to the group’s website.

But what stands out most in the Republicans’ document is the series of falsehoods and myths relied upon to push their conservative agenda. Here are just a few of the most egregious pieces of misinformation about abortion to be found within the pages of the 2016 platform:

Myth #1: Planned Parenthood Profits From Fetal Tissue Donations

Featured in multiple sections of the Republican platform is the tired and repeatedly debunked claim that Planned Parenthood profits from fetal tissue donations. In the subsection on “protecting human life,” the platform says:

We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare. We urge all states and Congress to make it a crime to acquire, transfer, or sell fetal tissues from elective abortions for research, and we call on Congress to enact a ban on any sale of fetal body parts. In the meantime, we call on Congress to ban the practice of misleading women on so-called fetal harvesting consent forms, a fact revealed by a 2015 investigation. We will not fund or subsidize healthcare that includes abortion coverage.

Later in the document, under a section titled “Preserving Medicare and Medicaid,” the platform again asserts that abortion providers are selling “the body parts of aborted children”—presumably again referring to the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood:

We respect the states’ authority and flexibility to exclude abortion providers from federal programs such as Medicaid and other healthcare and family planning programs so long as they continue to perform or refer for elective abortions or sell the body parts of aborted children.

The platform appears to reference the widely discredited videos produced by anti-choice organization Center for Medical Progress (CMP) as part of its smear campaign against Planned Parenthood. The videos were deceptively edited, as Rewire has extensively reported. CMP’s leader David Daleiden is currently under federal indictment for tampering with government documents in connection with obtaining the footage. Republicans have nonetheless steadfastly clung to the group’s claims in an effort to block access to reproductive health care.

Since CMP began releasing its videos last year, 13 state and three congressional inquiries into allegations based on the videos have turned up no evidence of wrongdoing on behalf of Planned Parenthood.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund—which has endorsed Hillary Clinton—called the Republicans’ inclusion of CMP’s allegation in their platform “despicable” in a statement to the Huffington Post. “This isn’t just an attack on Planned Parenthood health centers,” said Laguens. “It’s an attack on the millions of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood each year for basic health care. It’s an attack on the brave doctors and nurses who have been facing down violent rhetoric and threats just to provide people with cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams.”

Myth #2: The Supreme Court Struck Down “Commonsense” Laws About “Basic Health and Safety” in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

In the section focusing on the party’s opposition to abortion, the GOP’s platform also reaffirms their commitment to targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws. According to the platform:

We salute the many states that now protect women and girls through laws requiring informed consent, parental consent, waiting periods, and clinic regulation. We condemn the Supreme Court’s activist decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt striking down commonsense Texas laws providing for basic health and safety standards in abortion clinics.

The idea that TRAP laws, such as those struck down by the recent Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health, are solely for protecting women and keeping them safe is just as common among conservatives as it is false. However, as Rewire explained when Paul Ryan agreed with a nearly identical claim last week about Texas’ clinic regulations, “the provisions of the law in question were not about keeping anybody safe”:

As Justice Stephen Breyer noted in the opinion declaring them unconstitutional, “When directly asked at oral argument whether Texas knew of a single instance in which the new requirement would have helped even one woman obtain better treatment, Texas admitted that there was no evidence in the record of such a case.”

All the provisions actually did, according to Breyer on behalf of the Court majority, was put “a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion,” and “constitute an undue burden on abortion access.”

Myth #3: 20-Week Abortion Bans Are Justified By “Current Medical Research” Suggesting That Is When a Fetus Can Feel Pain

The platform went on to point to Republicans’ Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a piece of anti-choice legislation already passed in several states that, if approved in Congress, would create a federal ban on abortion after 20 weeks based on junk science claiming fetuses can feel pain at that point in pregnancy:

Over a dozen states have passed Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Acts prohibiting abortion after twenty weeks, the point at which current medical research shows that unborn babies can feel excruciating pain during abortions, and we call on Congress to enact the federal version.

Major medical groups and experts, however, agree that a fetus has not developed to the point where it can feel pain until the third trimester. According to a 2013 letter from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “A rigorous 2005 scientific review of evidence published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concluded that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester,” which begins around the 28th week of pregnancy. A 2010 review of the scientific evidence on the issue conducted by the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists similarly found “that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior” to 24 weeks’ gestation.

Doctors who testify otherwise often have a history of anti-choice activism. For example, a letter read aloud during a debate over West Virginia’s ultimately failed 20-week abortion ban was drafted by Dr. Byron Calhoun, who was caught lying about the number of abortion-related complications he saw in Charleston.

Myth #4: Abortion “Endangers the Health and Well-being of Women”

In an apparent effort to criticize the Affordable Care Act for promoting “the notion of abortion as healthcare,” the platform baselessly claimed that abortion “endangers the health and well-being” of those who receive care:

Through Obamacare, the current Administration has promoted the notion of abortion as healthcare. We, however, affirm the dignity of women by protecting the sanctity of human life. Numerous studies have shown that abortion endangers the health and well-being of women, and we stand firmly against it.

Scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that abortion is safe. Research shows that a first-trimester abortion carries less than 0.05 percent risk of major complications, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and “pose[s] virtually no long-term risk of problems such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or birth defect, and little or no risk of preterm or low-birth-weight deliveries.”

There is similarly no evidence to back up the GOP’s claim that abortion endangers the well-being of women. A 2008 study from the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, an expansive analysis on current research regarding the issue, found that while those who have an abortion may experience a variety of feelings, “no evidence sufficient to support the claim that an observed association between abortion history and mental health was caused by the abortion per se, as opposed to other factors.”

As is the case for many of the anti-abortion myths perpetuated within the platform, many of the so-called experts who claim there is a link between abortion and mental illness are discredited anti-choice activists.

Myth #5: Mifepristone, a Drug Used for Medical Abortions, Is “Dangerous”

Both anti-choice activists and conservative Republicans have been vocal opponents of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA’s) March update to the regulations for mifepristone, a drug also known as Mifeprex and RU-486 that is used in medication abortions. However, in this year’s platform, the GOP goes a step further to claim that both the drug and its general approval by the FDA are “dangerous”:

We believe the FDA’s approval of Mifeprex, a dangerous abortifacient formerly known as RU-486, threatens women’s health, as does the agency’s endorsement of over-the-counter sales of powerful contraceptives without a physician’s recommendation. We support cutting federal and state funding for entities that endanger women’s health by performing abortions in a manner inconsistent with federal or state law.

Studies, however, have overwhelmingly found mifepristone to be safe. In fact, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals says mifepristone “is safer than acetaminophen,” aspirin, and Viagra. When the FDA conducted a 2011 post-market study of those who have used the drug since it was approved by the agency, they found that more than 1.5 million women in the U.S. had used it to end a pregnancy, only 2,200 of whom had experienced an “adverse event” after.

The platform also appears to reference the FDA’s approval of making emergency contraception such as Plan B available over the counter, claiming that it too is a threat to women’s health. However, studies show that emergency contraception is safe and effective at preventing pregnancy. According to the World Health Organization, side effects are “uncommon and generally mild.”