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The Left’s Abortion Infowars Have Begun

Ryan Bangert
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Abortion advocates have long relied on verbal sleight of hand to mask the reality that abortion is a violent act that kills an unborn child.

Ed. Note: The following piece originally appeared at The Hill.

Abortion advocates have long relied on verbal sleight of hand to mask the reality that abortion is a violent act that kills an unborn child. That has included rebranding abortion as “health care” and renaming babies “products of conception.” For nearly 50 years, those arguments were cast in the shadow of Roe v. Wade, “an exercise of raw judicial power” that stripped states of the power to protect life.

Now that the Supreme Court – in an opinion remarkable for its judicial modesty – has corrected its half-century detour into freewheeling abortion policymaking and empowered states to enact pro-life laws, abortion advocates must finally persuade their fellow citizens, and lawmakers, of their positions.

Instead of engaging in honest debate, however, they are doubling down on demagoguery.

Their current target: pregnancy resource centers. Several thousand strong, these centers form the backbone of the pro-life response to the abortion-industrial-complex. These centers collectively provide more than $250 million per year in critical support and material aid to women facing unplanned pregnancies, including everything from free car seats, formula and diapers to critical counseling, community-building resources and much more. Reports indicate that most women who seek abortion would prefer a different path if it were available. Pregnancy resource centers provide that different path.

Stripped of the uneven playing field Roe imposed, the abortion industry must finally answer the message of hope these centers pose. But instead of competing, abortion advocates are seeking to shut down the debate.

Speaking with the press recently, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) charged that pregnancy resource centers in her home state exist to “fool people” who are searching for “pregnancy termination help.” Her suggestion: “We need to shut them down here in Massachusetts. And we need to shut them down all around the country.”

How? By charging them with the left’s newest sobriquet of choice: conveying “misinformation.” Sen. Warren recently introduced the aptly named “SAD Act,” purportedly designed to “stop abortion disinformation.” The bill targets pro-life pregnancy centers, which it claims disseminate “inaccurate” and “stigmatizing” information about the risks of abortion and contraception and fail to provide referrals for abortion and birth control.

Unwilling to abide the vagaries of the legislative process, President Biden recently issued an executive order calling on Congress to crack down on “fraudulent and deceptive practices.” And predictably, there have even been calls for technology companies to “proactively monitor and remove” allegedly false claims made by pregnancy resource centers.

These urgent calls for the exercise of federal and even corporate power to stamp out pregnancy resource centers are targeted not at “disinformation,” however, but pure disagreements on policy and philosophy. In other words, the stuff of democratic debate.

For instance, NARAL Pro-Choice America has accused pro-life pregnancy centers of “falsely claiming banning abortion is ‘pro-woman,’” and that calling an unborn child at six weeks of development a “fetus” is an “inflammatory term to erase pregnant people from conversations about abortion care and conflate an embryo with a child.” But how is giving the vast majority of women what they want – an alternative to abortion – anything but “pro-woman”? And how is identifying an unborn child as a child tantamount to “erasing” a pregnant woman?

Still others accuse pregnancy resource centers of inaccurately telling women that abortion has links to negative health outcomes, such as decreased mental health. But that point is hotly contested, and credible research has found that women can face an 81 percent increase in risk of mental health disorders after receiving an abortion, including increased risk of anxiety, depression and even suicide. How would throttling this important debate advance women’s health?

The sad truth is that abortion advocates have long peddled factually dubious claims of their own. Such as claiming, as Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has, that abortion is essential to facilitate women’s participation in the workforce. Or by asserting, as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has, that pro-life laws will have “damaging effects on the economy and would set women back decades.” Or by declaring, as Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra has, that abortion “is a basic and essential part of health care.”

These statements, which ignore the contributions of millions of working mothers and the nature of abortion as a uniquely deadly procedure, doubly qualify as “misinformation” under the abortion advocates’ capacious standard.

Instead of shutting down debate, the abortion industry should engage pro-life advocates in answering questions that, until Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, were off the table. Such as: Can we come together to provide every new mother with the material resources she needs to thrive? Can we provide life-affirming options, like adoption and quality foster care, for those women who are unable to assume the burdens of motherhood? Will corporations commit to providing expectant mothers with meaningful support like increased pay and more generous maternity leave instead of paying for abortions? And do pregnancy resource centers deserve our support and thanks for the aid they provide to needy women, instead of verbal and even physical attacks?

Those critical questions will not be answered if they are never asked. And if the illiberal left has its way, that’s exactly what will happen.

Ryan Bangert
Ryan Bangert
Senior Counsel, Vice President for Legal Strategy
Ryan Bangert serves as senior counsel and vice president for legal strategy at Alliance Defending Freedom.