Arizona’s Abortion Website Misleading

Two prominent Arizona Republicans have spoken out on women’s abortion rights recently: John McCain and his daughter, Meghan McCain.

In a November 25th interview with Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace, John McCain was frank about his position on abortion.

 I don’t think anybody like me, I can state my position on abortion, but, to other than that, leave the issue alone when we are in the kind of economic situation and, frankly, national security situation we’re in. 

Does this mean that when we are in a better kind of economic situation, he will feel differently? When pressed by Chris Wallace on whether or not McCain supports allowing freedom of choice, McCain replied “I would allow people to have those decisions and respect those opinions. I’m proud of my pro-life position. When someone disagrees with me, I respect your views.”

Meghan McCain also took a very common-sense stance in an article on The Daily Beast.

I’m pro-life, but because life is complicated, that choice is between a woman her idea of a higher power.

Life is indeed complicated, but the state of Arizona doesn’t seem to get that. Less than 24 hours after Senator McCain made his statements, Arizona state health officials began to implement one part of a controversial abortion law. The Arizona Department of Health Services has launched A Woman’s Right to Know, a website that is designed to “help” women who are considering abortion by providing a comprehensive list of informational topics and resources. The website’s cited goal is to make women “informed” and to discourage abortion by drawing attention to all of the resources available to low-income pregnant women.

Representative Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix is the sponsor of the law and defended the website saying that its purpose is to ensure that women give informed consent to terminate a pregnancy. Yee is very concerned about women being coerced to terminate a pregnancy without their consent. She wants to ensure that women know everything they need to know about making an informed decision.

 Young women who came to their clinics did not have information when they came, oftentimes with their boyfriends, she said. It is against the law and we’ve had that on the books for many years.

The site features full-color medical drawings of bi-weekly fetal development that are much more detailed than ultrasounds, and does a great job of listing all of the gruesome things that can go wrong during an abortion, and includes false mortality rates. Also included is a lengthy list of local resources with information about adoption services agenciesadditional resources such as WIC, HUD housing, and government-subsidized childcare assistance. It even has an extensive list of diaper banks and a handy list of all of the legal requirements and ramifications.

Visitors to the site are also given specific instructions on how to apply for AHCCCS, which is Arizona’s Medicaid program, even though the state is already paying for 53% of births that occur within the state’s borders. As a bonus, site visitors are invited to apply for Food Stamps and cash assistance. It goes without saying that once a woman has this welfare baby, state and federal Republicans will do everything within their power to take away these fabulous benefits.

The problem is not having a website that provides comprehensive information to pregnant women who are considering abortion. And it’s great to have a list of all of those great resources that federal and state Republicans are trying to strip away. The problem is that the website contains misleading, exaggerated, and false information.

  • Images are misleading. The illustration of a 10-week old fetus shows far more pronounced feet, hands, and face than Planned Parenthood’s 10-week illustration.
  • In the website’s listing of health risks, it fails to state that the risk of abortion complications is minimal: Fewer than 0.3% of abortion patients experience a complication that requires hospitalization, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit reproductive health organization.
  • Long-term risks are also rare, as outlined by this document by the Guttmacher Institute.
  • The mortality rates cited are misleading. The Guttmacher Institute also says that the risk of death during an abortion at 21 or more weeks is approximately 1 in 11,000.
  • The American Psychological Association Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion shows that repeated studies since the 1980s conclude that there is no validity to the assumption that abortion poses a hazard to women’s mental health.

The website was mandated by Arizona lawmakers and Governor Jan Brewer earlier this year and is part of Arizona’s H.B. 2036, an aggressive and controversial anti-abortion law that bans abortions at the 20th week of pregnancy, and potentially as early as the 18th week of pregnancy. The law also mandates invasive transvaginal ultrasounds.

Dr. Paul A. Isaacson, a Phoenix gynecologist, said in an interview with the New York Times that the law would profoundly affect some of my patients. According to Dr. Isaacson, most women who seek later abortions do so because they have received a diagnosis of a severe fetal anomaly during the course of a wanted pregnancy. Many fetal problems cannot be diagnosed until the 23rd-24th week of pregnancy. Dr. Isaacson has concerns that the law would force women to carry pregnancies to term even if there is evidence that the newborn will die quickly, often at substantial health risks to themselves.

The law does offer exceptions if the pregnancy is a threat to the woman, but it offers no exceptions if the fetus is found to have a life-threatening condition or severe impairment. A woman could potentially be forced to carry a dead fetus to term.

The measure was blocked earlier this year and is being questioned by the San Francisco 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals while it considers the legality of the mandate. Judge Andrew Kleinfield, appointed by President George H. W. Bush, expressed concern that the law would prevent women from aborting a fetus even if a fetus is found to have birth defects because many defects are discovered after the 20th week of gestation.

 They’re basically born into hell and then die, Kleinfeld said. 

Arizona solicitor general David Cole responded, saying “With due respect, that’s the woman’s problem. She should have made that decision earlier.”

The front page of A Woman’s Right to Know offers this disclaimer:

In April 2012 Governor Brewer signed HB 2036, which amends state law regarding abortions. While many provisions of HB 2036 are pending legal challenges, the provisions requiring ADHS to develop a website were unaffected. This new informed consent site meets requirements of the law for ADHS to maintain a website that lists agencies and services that are available to assist a woman throughout her pregnancy, as well as information about fetal development and abortion procedures.

No one loves abortion. It’s highly unlikely that any woman has ever been excited about getting an abortion. But if you’re in a position in which you need to consider and explore all options, by all means, do your research. There are some valid reasons for getting an abortion, and no woman should be bullied or intimidated into making a decision that dramatically affects her life. This website has some good information. Unfortunately, too much of it is misleading, exaggerated, and in some cases, completely false. Do your research and consult with people you trust if you need someone to help you work things out. Don’t be misled by government propaganda and politicians who have nothing but their own political agendas as motivation and do not have the best interest of women in mind.

Tiffany Willis Clark is a fifth-generation Texan and the founder and editor-in-chief of Liberal America and An unapologetic member of the Christian Left, she had a long and successful career actively working with at-risk youth, people struggling with poverty and unemployment, and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. She’s passionate about their struggles. In 2011, she made the decision to pursue her dreams and become a full-time writer. Connect with her on LinkedIn, follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook page.