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Dismissing Need for Abortion Access, Ted Cruz Claims Pregnancy Is Not 'Life-Threatening'—Despite Alarming Maternal Mortality Rate in US

"Ted Cruz has never been pregnant and clearly knows nothing about maternal mortality rates in the U.S. or in Texas."

Pro-choice supporters and staff of Planned Parenthood hold a rally outside the Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services Center in St. Louis, Missouri, May 31, 2019, the last location in the state performing abortions, after a U.S. court announced the clinic could continue operating. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Reproductive rights advocates rebuked Sen. Ted Cruz on Thursday after he claimed that pregnancy is "not a life-threatening" condition for women while arguing that medication abortions should not be available in the United States. 

After joining 20 of his GOP colleagues in writing a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calling on the agency to ban mifepristone and misoprostol, which are used in early pregnancy to induce an abortion, the Texas Republican tweeted that the pills are "dangerous" and unnecessary for women's health.

"Ted Cruz has never been pregnant and clearly knows nothing about maternal mortality rates in the U.S. or in Texas," tweeted Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "People die in childbirth at an unconscionable rate, especially women of color. Not from medication abortion. Sadly, knowledge is not a prerequisite for power."

Numerous studies, including a landmark report published in 2018 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, have shown that both surgical and medication abortions are in fact safe, are not linked to long-term health issues for patients, and that abortion care is rarely linked to complications.

By contrast, women in the U.S. face the highest maternal mortality rates among wealthy countries, with Cruz's home state of Texas ranking among the 10 worst U.S. states for health outcomes for pregnant women.

Across the U.S., the maternal mortality rate in 2018 was 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births, and 37.1 deaths among Black women. 

Women on social media slammed Cruz's broad, inaccurate statement and shared their own life-threatening experiences with pregnancy and childbirth.

Cruz's letter to the FDA comes amid Republican attempts to restrict access to mifepristone and misoprostol during the coronavirus pandemic. The ACLU successfully sued to suspend the FDA's restriction stating that patients must obtain the pills at an in-person visit to a physician, raising their risk of being exposed to the coronavirus. 

The group pledged to continue fighting restrictions last month after the Trump administration petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the FDA's rule, attempting to make potential Covid-19 exposure "the price of getting abortion care."

"No, pregnancy may not be a 'life-threatening' disease, but it can be a 'life-threatening' condition for many, even though it doesn't have to be," tweeted CBS News reporter Kate Smith.

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