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.
I was fortunate to get sick far enough along in my pregnancy that doctors could deliver my daughter to save my life - that wouldn't have been the case just a few weeks earlier.
You'd rather see women die than watch them have control over their own bodies. You're a disgrace.
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) September 3, 2020
Hmmm I almost died and ended up on an operating table from an undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy, but you and your Republican friends must know better. https://t.co/3A3DQLOAS8
— Kristen Schaal (@kristenschaaled) September 3, 2020
This is why pregnancy is trending on Twitter today.
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Here's the risk of death for both abortion vs pregnancy:
--> Abortion: less than 0.6 per 100,000
--> Pregnancy: 7.1 for per 100,000
Of course pregnancy isn't a disease, but for some it's a life threatening condition. https://t.co/8SlsPh9U91
— Kate Smith (@byKateSmith) September 3, 2020
I had to have an urgent c-section at 35 weeks into a very much wanted pregnancy (after infertility issues) because of severe pre-eclampsia. To have another child, I would be considered high-risk. But tell me again, @tedcruz, about how pregnancy isn't life-threatening. pic.twitter.com/X5Rd50J8d5
— Elisa Cardnell (@ElisaCardnell) September 3, 2020
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.