AUSTIN, Texas (CN) — Texas requires women to be given a booklet with scientifically inaccurate “propaganda” before they can terminate a pregnancy, medical and reproductive rights groups say.
Abortion providers in Texas have been required to inform women of the medical risks associated with abortion since the state enacted the Texas Woman’s Right to Know Act in 2003.
Legislators said they passed the law because women have “a right to know the truth.”
The Texas Department of State Health Services on Monday released a revised version of the booklet, “A Woman’s Right to Know.”
It contains “debunked” claims that abortion is linked to breast cancer, and inaccurate information about embryologic and gestational development, according to Heather Busby, executive director of the Texas chapter of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League.
“This pamphlet is riddled with errors and promotes misinformation designed to stigmatize abortion and dissuade women from making their own decisions about their healthcare,” Busby said in a statement Tuesday. “The state health agency should not be in the business of providing propaganda.”
During a public consultation period on the revised booklet this year, thousands of people urged the Department of State Health Services to correct false information in the pamphlet. But the revised version still implies that abortions increase the risk of breast cancer, stating that “doctors and scientists are actively studying the complex biology of breast cancer to understand whether abortion may affect the risk of breast cancer.”
According to the American Cancer Society, scientific evidence of “the highest level” has confirmed that abortion does not raise the risk of breast cancer or any other type of cancer.
The booklet also claims that fetuses can feel pain before 20 weeks gestation, but medical research on the subject debunks this claim.
In 2010, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists concluded that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense before 24 weeks gestation, as connections between parts of the brain required for pain perception are not intact before that point in the gestational cycle.
Moss Hampton, past chairman of the Texas chapter of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told the Austin American-Statesman on Tuesday that the intent of the pamphlet was “good in that they stressed over and over that an abortion needed to be a decision that was made in a thoughtful and informed way.”
However, “Having said that, just like in the past, they have emphasized the risk of abortions, particularly first trimester abortions, and made it sound like they are risky procedures when in fact, the data says that first trimester abortions are one of the safer procedures that are out there,” Hampton said.