Public health expert offers brutal edits to Ted Cruz's wildly misleading abortion pill screed

Public health expert offers brutal edits to Ted Cruz's wildly misleading abortion pill screed
Ted Cruz via Gage Skidmore, fact-check via Twitter

On August 10, the National Review published an article in which two far-right anti-abortion extremists — Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Live Action founder Lila Rose — railed against the drug Mifeprex and described it as an “abortion pill” that has “killed over 3.7 million children and at least 24 women.” Dr. Daniel Grossman, a public health researcher known for his expertise on abortion and contraception, critiques the article in a Twitter thread and offers some “edits” to correct the misinformation.

Grossman writes, “Hi @tedcruz & @LilaGraceRose. I saw your latest op-ed on the court's decision to make medication abortions more accessible in a few states during the coronavirus pandemic. I hope you won't mind if I offer a few edits and fact check the piece.”

The Cruz/Rose article was headlined, “The Federal Government Must Stop the Deadly Abortion Pill,” but Grossman suggests a different headline: “The Federal Government Must Increase Access to the Abortion Pill.”

Discussing the 24 women referenced in the article, Grossman explains, “First, 11 of the 24 deaths were not even associated with abortion — these women died from things like drug overdose or homicide. It's unfortunate, however not related. All medical procedures have some risk, but medication abortion’s risk is extremely low, especially over 20 years.”

Grossman notes that millions of women have used Mifeprex safely.

“Second, the denominator is 3.7 million women who have used it, so the overall rate of death is very low,” according to Grossman. “Lower than the risk of death with childbirth (at least 14 times lower) or for a man using Viagra or other drug for erectile dysfunction.”

In their article, Cruz and Rose claim that “women procuring abortion drugs” are at “greater risk of” suffering “complications and death due to undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy.” But Grossman notes that “undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy” is “rare, less than 1%.”

Countless far-right Christian fundamentalists have claimed that “life begins at conception,” and they oppose not only abortion, but also, the use of birth control pills. Grossman, however, notes, “Of course the embryo is growing, that's how pregnancy works, however they're not fully formed in the first trimester.”

Cruz and Rose claim that numerous “adverse reactions” to Mifeprex have occurred, but Grossman explains, “We actually have a lot of evidence about the rate of adverse events with medication abortion. The risks are lower than continuing the pregnancy to term.”

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