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Surviving and Saving Lives in a Post-Dobbs world

by | Jun 26, 2023

By Carol Tobias, President

Editor’s note. These remarks were delivered at Friday’s opening General Session.

Carol Tobias, National Right to Life President

In this new post-Dobbs ERA, we have many challenges and many opportunities.  We, of course, want to pass laws to protect as many children as possible.  Several states are already doing that.  There has been some discussion in the news and among candidates, addressing the question as to whether the Dobbs decision left the decision to the states and whether or not the federal government has a role to play.

The Supreme Court, when reversing Roe, made clear that laws were to be enacted by elected representatives.  They didn’t distinguish between state and federal.  There is a role for the federal government. 

National Right to Life has presented a plan for Congress and presidential candidates that will save lives.  It is effective and do-able.  I’d like to read it to you : 

The Role of the Federal Government in the Protection of Preborn Children

On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Roe v Wade was incorrectly decided, that there is no right to abortion in the U.S. Constitution. They also determined, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, that abortion-related policies (including protections for preborn children and their mothers) should be enacted by elected representatives, not dictated by the courts.

Most pro-life laws and policies are being enacted at the state level. However, the federal government, from the executive branch to the U.S. Congress, is uniquely positioned, and has both the opportunity and the responsibility, to protect the most vulnerable members of the human family.

Given the current composition of Congress, a national law protecting preborn children and their mothers from the tragedy of abortion is not likely to happen in the foreseeable future. But there are still many life-affirming policies that can be enacted at the federal level that will reduce the number of abortions, help mothers, and save lives.

Therefore, we urge all lawmakers, as well as candidates for U.S. House, Senate, and President, to embrace the unique and transformative role the federal government has in advancing life-affirming policies in the United States. This includes:

  • Ensuring that no taxpayer dollars are used to pay for abortion or subsidize health plans that cover or promote abortion, either in the U.S. or in other countries, and eliminating to the extent possible taxpayer funding of abortion providers.
  • Recognizing the role of parents to be involved before their minor daughter could get an abortion.
  • Connecting mothers of newborn and preborn children to resources.
  • Protecting the lives of babies born alive following an attempted abortion.
  • Seeking protective protocols on chemical abortions to reduce the risk of death and injury to the mother.
  • Promoting educational initiatives (and existing right-to-know laws) to provide vital information about fetal development and the physical, mental, and emotional dangers of elective abortion.
  • Requiring the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to collect meaningful data and publish reports on abortion in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, (e.g., the number of abortions performed, the age of the mother and preborn child, complications and deaths arising from such procedures.)
  • Protecting the conscience rights of health care personnel and entities who do not wish to perform or participate in any part of the abortion process.
  •  Nominating/confirming only federal judges and justices who will interpret the Constitution fairly and honestly according to its text and history.

Presidential candidates should also recognize the ability and responsibility of the chief executive to institute a whole-of-government approach (through the use of life-affirming executive orders and statements of administration policy, as well as personnel appointments, among other tools) to ensure that all Executive Branch departments promote the intrinsic value and dignity of innocent human life.

I believe a majority of Americans would support these actions if taken by the federal government.  And yet, Democrats in Congress, and certainly the Biden administration, are unlikely to support even these modest proposals.  But we will try.

In those places where abortion will remain legal, we have to find other ways to save babies and help the mothers.  Our convention theme is “making abortion unthinkable.”  Our goal should be that, even if abortion is legal, no woman wants one.  We want women to think bringing a new life into this world is wonderful;  I could never do “that” to my baby. 

There are many ways we can help to develop that philosophy, to bring about that environment where life is the best choice.

We need to remind everyone about the dangers of abortion.  Taking the chemical abortion pill is not as easy as popping an aspirin.  And we should especially remind them that the abortion pill was created solely to end the life of an innocent human being.  It isn’t used for any other purpose.

Many states enacted legislation to require that a woman seeking a chemical abortion receive a physical exam.  The FDA is trying to eliminate in-person visits but one reason that is so important is that about 2% of all pregnancies are ectopic; the new little human is growing outside the uterus. If that condition is not diagnosed, the woman could die.

One study, done by abortion advocates, determined that an oral exam over a video call was just as safe as having a physical in-person exam and that the abortion pills were 95% effective.  But more than 36% of the women did not complete the study.   Why did such a large number of women not complete the study?  And if more than a third of the subjects didn’t complete the study, how can you say the results are 95% positive?

A 2015 study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco of emergency room visits is one of those often cited as proof that the rate of serious complications from the abortion pill mifepristone is “less than 1%.”

But that study doesn’t include full data. The research included only what they determined to be “major” complications–  “…unexpected adverse events requiring hospital admission, surgery, or blood transfusion.” 

Complications not taken into account include hemorrhage, infection, incomplete or “failed” abortion requiring a follow-up surgical abortion, and even things like “uterine perforation.”

If you add these dangers, the complication rate for chemical abortions was over five percent, meaning the complications were serious enough to send more than one out of every twenty abortion pill patients to the emergency room. 

Another study, again by abortion advocates, found 6% of known outcomes from the abortion pill were severe enough to result in a visit to the emergency room or urgent care, with additional women experiencing serious adverse events.  If the events are serious, shouldn’t they be included in the results?

Research in the United Kingdom found that “5.9% of women using medical abortion are subsequently treated in hospital for complications arising from an incomplete abortion, including retained products of conception, hemorrhage, and infection.”

Our pro-life counterparts in the United Kingdom report that after abortion pills were allowed to be mailed into homes, there was a dramatic increase in emergency calls from women who had taken the pills.  And in some areas, the number of emergency calls doubled.

Researchers from the University of Toronto found that more than 10% of chemical abortion patients visited the emergency room with some concern of complaint.

And yet another study in Finland, with data from nearly 50,000 women, found almost 7% of women needed surgical intervention after taking the abortion pill.

Giving abortion advocates the benefit of the doubt, using the 95% effectiveness rate— with our abortion numbers, that still means 25,000 women every year rushing to the emergency room with complications or having to find someone to surgically address an incomplete abortion.  Chemical abortions are not as quick and easy as just swallowing a couple of pills.

Here’s another problem.  The abortion industry tells women that if they go to the emergency room because of complications from the abortion pill, “tell them you’re having a miscarriage.”

I fully expect, in the coming years, we will see an increase in visits to the ER, but the medical record won’t show it as an abortion complication.  And if a woman dies, it will be reported as maternal mortality, looking like pregnancy is more dangerous for women.

Full disclosure—all the studies and statistics I’m using here are the result of extensive research by our director of education and research, Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon.  This has all been printed in the National Right to Life News.  His information is readily available for you to use.

We don’t want women to take a chance on these dangers, so what are some ways we can help her to choose life? 

Promote pregnancy centers.  They do amazing work to help women through a difficult time.  With our structure and knowledge of legislation and lobbying, we can help by keeping destructive or punitive laws from being passed. 

Promote adoption – Some women just aren’t ready to be a mom, or they just don’t want to be a mom.  Encourage them to give them privilege and blessing to someone else.

Help to install more safe haven baby boxes around our states.  If a woman doesn’t want the responsibility of raising a child or believes she just can’t do it, letting her place the baby in a safe place where the child can be rescued and cared for is a loving, compassionate act on her part.

Several states have created programs to provide support services for pregnant women, or new moms and their babies.  That’s a far better, a far more compassionate, response than telling someone she will be better off if she ends the life of her child.  I love the many programs that have been created to promote a pro-life, pro-mom-and-baby culture.

Some states have created grants for pregnancy resource centers or provide tax credits for donations to these centers.  Some have extended the period for Medicaid coverage to a new mom, others allow a child to be deducted for tax purposes in the year the child was conceived, not waiting until the year he or she is born.

I believe we will see these comprehensive approaches in more states as abortion laws change.

And we need to promote abortion pill reversal.  If a woman takes that first set of pills in the chemical abortion process, then decides she doesn’t want to go through with the abortion, she can get a heavy-dose progesterone treatment to counteract that first pill. It’s effective about 2/3 of the time and more than 4,500 babies have been born because their moms, who took the abortion pill, changed their minds and their babies survived. 

More than half of all abortions are now chemical abortions.  Fourteen states have amended their informed consent laws to require that a woman starting the chemical abortion process be told that, if she changes her mind and acts quickly enough, she may be able to counteract the pill and save her baby’s life.   We can urge more doctors to be part of the network.

Our opponents hate APR – say it’s junk science and doesn’t work.  They don’t want to recognize that any woman would regret their abortion. 

Some people do believe this is a matter of letting women decide whether to continue with a pregnancy.  But there is a growing contingent who doesn’t want her to have a choice. They’re trying to shut down women helping centers and trying to stop abortion pill reversal. Their end goal is simply the death of unborn children.

The late Pope Benedict XVI, spoke to the General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life in 2007, and offered this profound truth: “[L]ife is the first good received from God and is fundamental to all others; to guarantee the right to life for all and in an equal manner for all is the duty upon which the future of humanity depends.”

Think about that for a minute:  The future of humanity depends on the guarantee of the right to life for all and in an equal manner for all.

People are different from each other.  We look different. We act differently.  We have different ideas and opinions.  We have different wants and needs.  We have different talents and abilities.

It’s not up to us to decide who should be here. It’s not up to us to decide who lives and who dies. The pro-life message that all life is precious is desperately needed in today’s society.

Do what you can to make abortion unthinkable so that, even if abortion is accessible, no woman wants one because Life is a beautiful, wonderful choice!

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