Get Real! If I’m Bisexual, Why Don’t I Feel the Same About Men and Women?

Heather Corinna

There are bisexual people in the world who find that they have fairly equal levels of attraction to people of all genders, but I'd say it's more common to find that we have differences in how we experience different genders and different relationships.

nathanielthegreat asks:

I’m
17, male, and have considered myself bisexual for 2 years now. I find
myself emotionally attracted to women and sexually attracted to men. I
like women in a certain way, I like to be in relationships with them. I
see myself having kids, many in fact. But I’m not feeling sexually
attracted to them, except for a few but can’t find myself to have sex
with them. As for men, I like them almost strictly sexually. Even if I
didn’t enjoy the sex, half the times I couldn’t get hard with men, I
prefer it and don’t feel scared to. But when I try to be with them
emotionally, I’m just not that into it. I don’t feel like I put any
limits on myself, for I have tried.

What does this mean? I won’t limit myself to one gender but I’d like
to feel for them equally in order to find the right person for me. What
do you think? Please help.

Heather replies:

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I
don’t think it’s very realistic to expect most of us to feel the exact
same way, or "equally," about all men, all women or all people whose
gender is outside of that binary.

There are bisexual people in the world who find that they
have fairly equal levels of sexual and emotional attraction to people
of all genders, but I’d say it’s more common for any of us to find that
we have some differences in how we experience areas of feeling for
different genders and in different relationships. And how we feel, be
it identical or differing, really is not something that we can control
or forcibly change: we feel however we feel at any given time, based on
who we are at that time and what our experiences are and have been to
that point. It also may not be how we feel for the whole of our lives:
we all grow, after all, and every new experience, every additional
relationship, tends to shape us in some way if we let it.

I want to start by introducing you to the whole range of areas of
connection with others we consider when we’re talking about sexual
orientation or relationships. Larger group of variables, meet
Nathaniel; Nathaniel, meet a larger group of variables.

See, we don’t just have the two you mentioned, sexual and emotional.
We also talk about romantic, spiritual, affectional, and/or relational
attraction and connection. With that many variables, you can see how if
a person of ANY orientation made a list of the genders they have all of
those kinds attraction to, or who they have been in relationship with
so far in any of those areas, we’d be unlikely to come out perfectly
equal on all accounts. It’d be seriously unusual if all our
relationships — including those which are totally nonsexual — with
people of differing genders we had so far were or felt identical in all
those areas. Same goes with our expectations of different people or
genders all being the same in all areas.

I think that "so far" is important (which is why I said it twice).
We can only really base our ideas on how we have felt on what our
experiences have been to date, and at your age, those experiences have
been more limited than they probably will be five, ten, twenty or forty
years down the road. Again, how you feel now may not be how you always
feel, especially given the fluidity of sexuality. And the depth of our
interpersonal relationships also tends to get deeper as we grow and get
older, both per what you’re bringing to the table and what any of your
partners are.

You might also find the Klein Grid helpful. (I like this adaptation of the Klein Grid,
though because it accounts for people who have lived past their teen
years, it might not make that big of a difference for you.) When
addressing orientation, the Klein model takes our sexual attraction
into account, but also our sexual fantasies and sexual behavior; it
includes our emotional, social and community preferences as well as our
preferences about our own identity. It considers all of that based on
the past, the present and also our ideals or wishes. It’s something
that might be able to help you see the much-bigger picture when it
comes to orientation that I think might be missing in terms of how
you’re framing it now.

Don’t forget: even for a person who is only attracted to one sex or
gender, it’s highly unlikely they are going to have the same kinds of
or levels of attraction to every single person in that group, you know?

You’re young. I don’t say that to patronize, but to point out that
life experience does usually make a big difference. At 17, even if
you’re ahead of the curve compared to your peers, you’re still sussing
out who you are in a very big way, you’ve barely been sexual as a young
adult when it comes to both sexual development and relationships, and
your life and relationship experience has been limited by the short
number of years you have had to have it in and reflect on it
throughout. For myself, for instance, even though I knew I was
attracted to all genders before I was even in my teens, and dated men
and women alike as a teenager, it took me until I was near my thirties
to truly identify and then start to really work through some massive
emotional barriers I had with women.

In your teens, your social circles are also pretty limited unless
you travel a lot or live in a highly diverse area, and you probably
haven’t yet met a wide array of people who they might even consider for
sexual or romantic relationships. Who you have had relationships with
to date has probably had more to do with who you had any opportunity to
have them with now than it will later on in your life. And when we’re
queer, our dating pool is always much smaller than it is for those who
are young but straight. It may be that you just haven’t yet met women
or men in your life to whom you feel a very strong sexual and
emotional connection. Of course, finding people we feel strongly for
and connect deeply with on all levels, no matter what our orientation
is, is something that usually takes a while, because it’s that kind of
total connectivity just doesn’t happen every day. It’s rare stuff.

Relationships at your age probably haven’t been very long-term,
either. It’s not like we just walk into perfect relationships that have
everything we want all tied up with a bow; in which all aspects of them
are high-key and totally developed. Relationships are a creative
enterprise: they’re something we make together, not something we just
passively have or are given.

One other humongous thing to take into consideration is how common
it is for people, especially younger people and/or people who have been
raised with very heteronormative or gendernormative ideas or social
structures, to find that it is more difficult to envision or have deep
emotional relationships with those of the same sex or gender. If I had
a dollar for every queer young person who said, "I’m sexually attracted
to men/women but I just can’t see myself in a serious relationship with
them," who even just ten years later either had no such challenge of
imagination or was in a serious emotional/romantic and sexual
relationship with someone same-sex I’d be one wealthy dame.

A rare few of us manage to grow up without a ton of social
conditioning when it comes to who we should have romantic or deep
feelings about: nearly all cultures are overdosed with pervasive
messages that romance, lifelong emotional relationships of depth,
and/or families, are things that are about men being with women, not
men with men or women with women, or anyone at all with anyone at all
who doesn’t fit into any of those boxes. I’d say those norms are even
bigger and tougher to shake than norms that say who we should and
shouldn’t have sex with: just listen to how often people make same-sex
relationships all about sex and that’s pretty obvious. There are also a
lot of strong cultural messages that tell us that even our same-gender
or same-sex friendships and family relationships are less important
than those we have with people of a different sex or gender than us.

I can see some of that conditioning even in one of your own
statements. We can have families or kids with people of any gender,
after all: we don’t need opposite-sex relationships to do that. (And
all the female partners you have may not want to have kids, either:
being female doesn’t mean we want to become pregnant or parent. So,
seeing that a female partner is who one has a family with also makes a
lot of assumptions about women and what the wide range of women do and
don’t want.) I don’t point something like that out to make you feel
bad, just to show how internalized and pervasive these ideas can be, to
the point that we might not even realize we have them. All of us do
have some level of them. Even those of us who are queer can and often
do have internalized homophobia or biphobia. Unlearning all that
conditioning and getting to new ways of thinking, more inclusive ways
of thinking, is something that tends to take a lot of awareness, effort
and time. But throughout that process, those cultural ideas and
messages can have a pretty big influence on us. It may be that the way
you view men in terms of emotions, and the way you view women in regard
to sex, are both influenced by some of these ideas.

By all means, give all of this some thought, but also do what you
can not to sweat this idea that to have a satisfying relationship, now
or later, you have to feel the same way about all genders. You don’t.

Throughout your life — and straight people have this happen, too —
you’re likely going to find in your relationships that you have a wide
range of levels/areas of feeling and connection with each person you’re
with. With one partner, the sexual part of your relationship may lead a
bit more, or be more charged or strong. With another, it may be the
emotional (though we can’t really say any of this is all that separate:
sex has emotion in it too, even if it’s casual) aspects that lead or
are stronger.

Relationships where ALL aspects of a relationship are highly
charged, pose no challenges, where nothing ever needs to be
compromised, adapted or improved, where you feel perfectly met in all
areas? They’re about as common as unicorns or leprechauns.

When we’re in relationships, we don’t remain in them or leave them
the exact same person we were when we began them, and neither do our
partners. Instead, we all will tend to grow, change in various ways,
and as we grow, so does the relationship. In long-term relationships,
we can even find that an area of the relationship which started out as
the strongest at some point takes a back seat while another area
becomes the super-big deal. So, for example, in a relationship where
the sex is off the charts and has a physical attraction you feel very
strongly, but the emotional connection outside the sex doesn’t feel as
strong, over time, if you both invest in the relationship, that part
can develop and grow stronger. The same goes for a relationship that
starts off very strong emotionally or spiritually, but where the sexual
attraction doesn’t start off as strong. However, it’s usually the
emotional arena where the most growth happens, and which tends to be
more gradual as time goes on: sexual attraction tends to be pretty
instant, even if the sex we have with it isn’t aces right away.

I’m going to mention again that you’re 17, even though it’s probably
annoying because you know full well how old you are. You do not have to
have all of this figured out right now: that is a lot for anyone to
expect of themselves, unless you can see the future. You’re not likely
TO have all of this figured out by now, no matter what: the way we feel
at one age often is not the way we feel at another. Remember how many
people don’t even get any kind of handle on their orientation or come
out until their 20s, 30s, 40s or even later! You finding a lifelong
partner at your age is also not a likely proposition (and many people
find we have more than one important partner in the course of our lives
anyway, not just one person), so worrying overmuch about it now is
probably not a sound place to put your energy, and goodness knows, no
one needs extra stress just because. I’m not even sure how feeling
exactly the same about men and women would result in you finding one,
right lifelong partner in the first place.

My advice for right now would be to just lead with your heart and
your head, and pursue the relationships which feel best to you and your
partners, sexually, emotionally and otherwise. What I think matters
most about any kind of relationship is that anyone involved in it feels
benefitted by it, able to really be themselves, and is cared for,
accepted and respected. If in any relationship, all of that is going on
for you and who you’re with, it’s always a good thing, even if that
relationship is not one you’ll have for your whole life.

Give yourself space and time to grow, and permission not to
magically have everything figured out or miraculously feel the same
about every single person you’re with based on gender or any other
single criteria. Not only is it okay not to have your whole
interpersonal life figured out before you graduate from high school,
it’s neither likely nor necessary to be happy and to have happy,
healthy and mutually-beneficial relationships.

Here are a few more links to pack in your bag and take with you as you journey on:

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Republican National Convention Edition

Ally Boguhn

The Trump family's RNC claims about crime and the presidential candidate's record on gender equality have kept fact-checkers busy.

Republicans came together in Cleveland this week to nominate Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention (RNC), generating days of cringe-inducing falsehoods and misleading statements on crime, the nominee’s positions on gender equality, and LGBTQ people.

Trump’s Acceptance Speech Blasted for Making False Claims on Crime

Trump accepted the Republican nomination in a Thursday night speech at the RNC that drew harsh criticism for many of its misleading and outright false talking points.

Numerous fact-checkers took Trump to task, calling out many of his claims for being “wrong,” and “inflated or misleading.”

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 Among the most hotly contested of Trump’s claims was the assertion that crime has exploded across the country.

“Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement,” Trump claimed, according to his prepared remarks, which were leaked ahead of his address. “Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s 50 largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years. In our nation’s capital, killings have risen by 50 percent. They are up nearly 60 percent in nearby Baltimore.”

Crime rates overall have been steadily declining for years.

“In 2015, there was an uptick in homicides in 36 of the 50 largest cities compared to the previous years. The rate did, indeed, increase nearly 17 percent, and it was the worst annual change since 1990. The homicide rate was up 54.3 percent in Washington, and 58.5 percent in Baltimore,” explained Washington Post fact checkers Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee. “But in the first months of 2016, homicide trends were about evenly split in the major cities. Out of 63 agencies reporting to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, 32 cities saw a decrease in homicides in first quarter 2016 and 31 saw an increase.”

Ames Grawert, a counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program, said in a statement posted to the organization’s website that 2016 statistics aren’t sufficient in declaring crime rate trends. 

“Overall, crime rates remain at historic lows. Fear-inducing soundbites are counterproductive, and distract from nuanced, data-driven, and solution-oriented conversations on how to build a smarter criminal justice system in America,” Grawert said. “It’s true that some cities saw an increase in murder rates last year, and that can’t be ignored, but it’s too early to say if that’s part of a national trend.” 

When Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, was confronted with the common Republican falsehoods on crime during a Thursday interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, he claimed that the FBI’s statistics were not to be trusted given that the organization recently advised against charges in connection with Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.

“According to FBI statistics, crime rates have been going down for decades,” Tapper told Manafort. “How can Republicans make the argument that it’s somehow more dangerous today when the facts don’t back that up?”

“People don’t feel safe in their neighborhoods,” said Manafort, going on to claim that “the FBI is certainly suspect these days after what they did with Hillary Clinton.”

There was at least one notable figure who wholeheartedly embraced Trump’s fearmongering: former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke. “Great Trump Speech,” tweeted Duke on Thursday evening. “Couldn’t have said it better!”

Ben Carson Claims Transgender People Are Proof of “How Absurd We Have Become”

Former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson criticized the existence of transgender people while speaking at the Florida delegation breakfast on Tuesday in Cleveland.  

“You know, we look at this whole transgender thing, I’ve got to tell you: For thousands of years, mankind has known what a man is and what a woman is. And now, all of a sudden we don’t know anymore,” said Carson, a retired neurosurgeon. “Now, is that the height of absurdity? Because today you feel like a woman, even though everything about you genetically says that you’re a man or vice versa?”

“Wouldn’t that be the same as if you woke up tomorrow morning after seeing a movie about Afghanistan or reading some books and said, ‘You know what? I’m Afghanistan. Look, I know I don’t look that way. My ancestors came from Sweden, or something, I don’t know. But I really am. And if you say I’m not, you’re a racist,’” Carson said. “This is how absurd we have become.”

When confronted with his comments during an interview with Yahoo News’ Katie Couric, Carson doubled down on his claims.“There are biological markers that tell us whether we are a male or a female,” said Carson. “And just because you wake up one day and you say, ‘I think I’m the other one,’ that doesn’t change it. Just, a leopard can’t change its spots.”

“It’s not as if they woke up one day and decided, ‘I’m going to be a male or I’m going to be a female,’” Couric countered, pointing out that transgender people do not suddenly choose to change their gender identities on a whim.

Carson made several similar comments last year while on the campaign trail.

In December, Carson criticized the suggested that allowing transgender people into the military amounted to using the armed services “as a laboratory for social experimentation.”

Carson once suggested that allowing transgender people to use the restroom that aligned with their gender identity amounted to granting them “extra rights.”

Ivanka Trump Claims Her Father Supports Equal Pay, Access to Child Care

Ivanka Trump, the nominee’s daughter, made a pitch during her speech Thursday night at the RNC for why women voters should support her father.

“There have always been men of all background and ethnicities on my father’s job sites. And long before it was commonplace, you also saw women,” Ivanka Trump said. “At my father’s company, there are more female than male executives. Women are paid equally for the work that we do and when a woman becomes a mother, she is supported, not shut out.” 

“As president, my father will change the labor laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce. And he will focus on making quality child care affordable and accessible for all,” she continued before pivoting to address the gender wage gap. 

“Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties; they should be the norm. Politicians talk about wage equality, but my father has made it a practice at his company throughout his entire career.”

However, Trump’s stated positions on the gender wage gap, pregnancy and mothers in the workplace, and child care don’t quite add up to the picture the Trumps tried to paint at the RNC.

In 2004, Trump called pregnancy an “inconvenience” for employers. When a lawyer asked for a break during a deposition in 2011 to pump breast milk, Trump reportedly called her “disgusting.”

According to a June analysis conducted by the Boston Globe, the Trump campaign found that men who worked on Trump’s campaign “made nearly $6,100, or about 35 percent more [than women during the April payroll]. The disparity is slightly greater than the gender pay gap nationally.”

A former organizer for Trump also filed a discrimination complaint in January, alleging that she was paid less than her male counterparts.

When Trump was questioned about equal pay during a campaign stop last October, he did not outline his support for policies to address the issue. Instead, Trump suggested that, “You’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job.” Though he had previously stated that men and women who do the same job should be paid the same during an August 2015 interview on MSNBC, he also cautioned that determining whether people were doing the same jobs was “tricky.”

Trump has been all but completely silent on child care so far on the campaign trail. In contrast, Clinton released an agenda in May to address the soaring costs of child care in the United States.

Ivanka’s claims were not the only attempt that night by Trump’s inner circle to explain why women voters should turn to the Republican ticket. During an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Manafort said that women would vote for the Republican nominee because they “can’t afford their lives anymore.”

“Many women in this country feel they can’t afford their lives, their husbands can’t afford to be paying for the family bills,” claimed Manafort. “Hillary Clinton is guilty of being part of the establishment that created that problem. They’re going to hear the message. And as they hear the message, that’s how we are going to appeal to them.”

What Else We’re Reading

Vox’s Dara Lind explained how “Trump’s RNC speech turned his white supporters’ fear into a weapon.”

Now that Mike Pence is the Republican nominee for vice president, Indiana Republicans have faced “an intense, chaotic, awkward week of brazen lobbying at the breakfast buffet, in the hallways and on the elevators” at the convention as they grapple with who will run to replace the state’s governor, according to the New York Times.

“This is a party and a power structure that feels threatened with extinction, willing to do anything for survival,” wrote Rebecca Traister on Trump and the RNC for New York Magazine. “They may not love Trump, but he is leading them precisely because he embodies their grotesque dreams of the restoration of white, patriarchal power.”

Though Trump spent much of the primary season denouncing big money in politics, while at the RNC, he courted billionaires in hopes of having them donate to supporting super PACs.

Michael Kranish reported for the Washington Post that of the 2,472 delegates at the RNC, it is estimated that only 18 were Black.

Cosmopolitan highlighted nine of the most sexist things that could be found at the convention.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) asked, “Where are these contributions that have been made” by people of color to civilization?

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.

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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.”