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At RH Reality Check, which publishes articles and commentary on reproductive health, Sharona Coutts highlights ongoing assessment of how states regulate and monitor abortions as presented in replies to requests from two congressional committees.

Three months ago, Republicans on the two House committees—Judiciary and Energy and Commerce—sent letters to the attorneys general and health departments in all 50 states asking for extensive details on their abortion regulations and monitoring, including inspections of clinics. RH Reality has gathered all the responses so far released into a database. So far, it has collected responses from 38 of the attorneys general and 31 of the health departments. It will add other responses as they become available. Writes Coutts:

An analysis of these documents shows that congressional Republicans will find no support for their arguments in favor of new restrictions on abortion care in the evidence presented by the states. In particular, to the extent that anti-choice advocates claim that women are being put at risk by abortion services, these documents—from the very state entities charged with overseeing and regulating abortion—show the contrary. They show that abortion in the United States is highly regulated and overwhelmingly safe.
RH Reality Check found:

• Abortion facilities are regularly inspected

• Criminal prosecutions of providers are rare, but some states prosecute mothers

• Abortion services are already actively and aggressively monitored

• State records belie the claims of fetuses “born alive”:

The “born-alive” fetus is a favorite theme of the anti-choice movement, which has perpetuated the claim that a large number of viable fetuses are born alive after failed second- and illegal third-trimester abortions as a way of shifting public opinion on abortion. This claim has been heavily criticized by public health experts who say this is an exceedingly rare occurrence and is in any case already covered by existing law and regulation. Nearly 90 percent of all abortions occur within the first trimester of pregnancy, the majority of these before nine weeks. In short, the vast majority of abortions in the United States occur at the embryonic stage, prior to the fetal stage. Since only a small share of all abortions are late second-trimester (after 20 weeks), and since third-trimester abortions are illegal in all but the most exceptional circumstances, it is not surprising that state records show that the myth of “born-alive” fetuses is, indeed, a myth.
Of course, the forced-birthers thrive on myth. That's why they support pregnancy propaganda centers that mislead, misinform and lie to pregnant women to try to keep them from opting for abortion. It's why they present bogus claims about "all" women regretting their decisions to have abortions and having severe, long-lasting health consequences from them. It's why they lobby for unconstitutional laws trying to cut back on abortions based on untruths about "fetal pain." On and on they go. Boosting falsehoods into myth is their stock-in-trade for bolstering efforts that curtail women's reproductive rights.

Sadly, no amount of letters from health departments and attorneys general will change the forced-birthers' approach, in or out of Congress. Nor will it stop their insufferable lies. But always good to know the details.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 10:07 AM PDT.

Also republished by Abortion, Pro Choice, and Daily Kos.

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