Analysis Law and Policy

Following Well-Worn Scripts, State Lawmakers Renew Assault on Access to Abortion Care

Sofia Resnick & Imani Gandy

As state legislative sessions gear up for what could be one of the worst years on record for reproductive rights, anti-choice lawmakers across the country have in recent weeks filed barrages of laws that would restrict access to safe and legal abortion. Many of these laws are identical, or nearly so, to laws that have repeatedly failed in the same states where they are being reintroduced.

Last year, a band of Missouri lawmakers tried to ban public funds going to abortion and human cloning. It was a quixotic act, given that such bans are already found in both state and federal law. Nonetheless, these legislators failed to ferry their redundant laws through the state house, and the bill died.

One might think, then, that anti-choice lawmakers in that state would avoid wasting further time and taxpayer dollars trying again to pass duplicative laws that have already failed.

One would be wrong. Indeed, in Missouri, a new group of lawmakers has now proposed a bill identical to the ban that failed last year.

As state legislative sessions gear up for what could be one of the worst years on record for reproductive rights, anti-choice lawmakers across the country have in recent weeks filed barrages of laws that would restrict access to safe and legal abortion, all while duplicitously claiming that these measures are needed to “protect” women. Many of these laws are identical, or nearly so, to laws that have repeatedly failed in the same states where they are being reintroduced, an analysis by Rewire shows. Our research shows that all of the 22 anti-choice bills that were pre-filed in six states this year—Florida, Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Texas—are identical or substantially similar to bills proposed in prior years.

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Many of these bills originate with one of four main organizations, our research has found. Based on analysis presented in Rewire Data, those organizations are: Americans United for Life, the National Right to Life Committee, and, to a lesser extent, the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Susan B. Anthony List. (Search for more model bills, and the lawmakers who sponsor them, here.)

With hundreds of pre-written bills at the ready, the underlying strategy is to throw every bill into the mix, hoping that one might pass. Anti-choice lawmakers are also fighting a war of attrition, reintroducing failed bills until they gather the numbers to pass.

After years of failure, these strategies are now garnering considerable and growing success, best demonstrated by the passage in 2013 of Texas’s regressive anti-choice omnibus law, HB 2. As we have previously reported, that law passed only after years of unsuccessful attempts by anti-choice legislators, who were undeterred by their prior failures, and with the help of Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who called two special sessions of the legislature to ensure passage.

In the aftermath of GOP gains last November, reproductive rights advocates anticipate that this year will see an intensification of the anti-choice legislative frenzy.

“[T]he midterm election results provide good reason to be concerned about a renewed focus on restricting abortion in the upcoming 2015 legislative sessions,” write analysts for the Guttmacher Institute in a recent report.

It’s not just the last elections that are creating this push. Another reason this year is shaping up to be particularly harrowing for reproductive rights is that some state lawmakers already have their eyes set on races in 2016, according to South Carolina state Sen. Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg), who has been the most active lawmaker when it comes to pre-filing anti-choice bills in that state. (See below for details of each bill.)

“A lot of legislators—you know, 2016 is an election year, and they’ll want something to put on the pro-life card,” Bright told Rewire. “I think something will pass, but I don’t know what.”

Bright predicts that more legislators will push for state-based 20-week bans, a measure heavily backed by the National Right to Life Committee, which scores state lawmakers on their “pro-life” credentials leading up to an election. Focus on the 20-week ban could explain why three different state senators in South Carolina separately introduced the same 20-week ban bill.

As a preview for the year to come, Rewire has assessed many of the state bills that were pre-filed before the beginning of states’ legislative sessions and identified some of the proposals that have similarities to model bills and previously enacted laws in other states.

What emerges is a picture of how the legal architects of the anti-choice movement are succeeding in building a state-based framework that is making abortion increasingly inaccessible, if not illegal.

Here’s a selection of some bills to watch.


In Florida, Rep. Walter Bryan “Mike” Hill (R-Pensacola) introduced a bill that would require an abortion provider to have admitting privileges at a hospital located within 30 miles of the clinic where he or she performs procedures; it is similar to an AUL model bill.


In Iowa, Sen. David Johnson (R-Ocheyedan) pre-filed a bill that would require a woman to wait 72 hours after her first visit to a provider before having an abortion and would require providers to have admitting privileges. He also introduced a bill that would forbid telemedicine abortion, a method for administering an early abortion that is widely recognized as safe and effective and that lowers the costs of abortion care.

Telemedicine is widely used to serve rural communities, for example, where access to abortion and other forms of health care is limited. In an interview with Rewire, Johnson said he does not oppose telemedicine in general—which inherently involves telecommunication to allow a health provider to provide health care remotely—but said he considers the practice in this case to be “dangerous” because “a physician is not present physically.”

In contrast to Johnson’s claims, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has stated that medical abortion can be provided “safely and effectively via telemedicine with a high level of patient satisfaction” and has been shown to reduce the instance of second-trimester abortions.

Johnson’s waiting period bill is similar to other “Women’s Right to Know” bills in Missouri (passed last year) and Oklahoma (also passed last year). He said he worked on the bill with state groups, such as Iowans for Life, Iowa Right to Life, and the Iowa Catholic Conference. Though Johnson said he did not work with Americans United for Life on this bill, he said he has worked with AUL on other legislation in the past. Johnson said he believes this waiting period will “reduce the number of abortions” in Iowa.

“I’ve seen data from other states that show that there are women who, given the time to further consider options like adoption or the option—and I want to emphasize option—of seeing an ultrasound, that that woman might carry that unborn child to term,” Johnson said, though he was unable to recall where that data came from, adding, “I’ve heard anecdotal evidence of that.”

Previous studies contradict Johnson’s unsupported claim. According to a study published last year in Obstetrics & Gynecology, 98.4 percent of women seeking abortions still opted to terminate their pregnancies after viewing a sonogram. And in 2012, the Guttmacher Institute’s Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health published a report showing that 87 percent of women seeking abortions were not deterred in their decisions by mandatory waiting periods or laws requiring counseling.


In addition to the bill to ban public funding for abortion or human cloning, Missouri lawmakers have re-introduced a spate of anti-choice laws that failed last session.

The proposed restrictions include a bill that would require a minor to obtain parental consent before she can have an abortion. HB 81 appears to be partially based on model legislation crafted by AUL and is identical to last year’s unsuccessful HB 1845. On its Facebook page, AUL praised the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sonya Anderson (R-Springfield), for testifying in favor of HB 1845, which AUL noted “is based on AUL’s model legislation.”

Neither AUL nor these Missouri lawmakers responded to requests to confirm the influence of AUL models on these bills. View more of Missouri’s anti-choice proposals here.

New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, Rep. Warren Groen (R-Rochester) pre-filed a bill that would prohibit public funds for abortion services, which he said is based on an AUL model.

Groen makes no attempt to hide his disdain for the constitutionally protected right to abortion care.

“[W]e have a state full of private clinics, public health clinics, community health clinics,” Groen said in an interview with Rewire. “We have clinics operating out of motor homes. We have all kinds of health-care delivery systems. … But you have to be pretty poverty stricken intellectually to want to turn to a quote-unquote health organization whose specialty is killing babies.”

Groen introduced a similar bill in 2011, which he said was based on a model crafted by the Susan B. Anthony List and the Alliance Defending Freedom, national nonprofits that advocate against abortion rights and access to contraception at the legislative and legal levels. Groen said he has been working with AUL for years.

Groen told Rewire this bill has good chances of passing in the GOP-controlled house and senate, but he expects Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, whom he described as a “radical pro-abortion governor,” would veto it.

South Carolina

A handful of lawmakers from the Palmetto State pre-filed a slew of anti-abortion bills, ranging from a total ban in the form of a “personhood” bill to a bill that would require abortion providers to have medically unnecessary admitting privileges at hospitals, a tactic that has tempered the ability of providers to perform abortions in other states.

State Sen. Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg) sponsored the majority of the bills pre-filed in his state legislature this year.

“I wish abortion wasn’t legal,” he said in an interview with Rewire.

Bright, who last year failed in his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, has sponsored and co-sponsored a “personhood” bill that would “[establish] that the right to life for each born and preborn human being vests at fertilization.”

He also filed a bill that would outlaw abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat; a bill that would ban abortion at 20 weeks and is similar to other state 20-week bans that are based on the National Right to Life Committee’s model; and a bill that would prohibit employer contributions to the State Health Insurance Plan from being used to reimburse the expenses of an abortion.

Bright said he didn’t work directly with organizations in the development of these bills but has worked in the past with AUL on a budget measure dealing with Planned Parenthood funding.

However, Sens. Lawrence Grooms (R-Berkeley) and Kevin Bryant’s (R-Anderson) bill restricting medication abortion appears to be based on an AUL model. Neither lawmaker responded to requests for comment.


Rep. Allen Fletcher (R-Cypress) has sponsored a ban on so-called sex-selective abortions that is similar to an AUL model. He was quoted in a March 2014 amicus brief arguing that the United States “has become a safe haven for those seeking legal sex-selective abortions.” In reality, however, actual sex-selection abortions are not commonplace in the United States.

Rep. Debbie Riddle (R-Spring) has sponsored a bill that would require abortion clinic staff to complete training on human trafficking. Riddle is outspoken in her opposition to abortion. In a video defending Texas’ controversial HB 2—which is back on trial at the Fifth Circuit Court and was based in part on AUL model legislation—Riddle explained her opposition, in part citing that God “knitted us together in our mother’s womb.”

Follow Rewire Data to track new anti-choice bills, and their origins of influence.

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.”