Critics say new state-mandated pamphlet links abortion to cancer

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AUSTIN (NEXSTAR) — On Monday, The Texas Department of State Health Services released the latest edition of “A Woman’s Right to Know,” a state-mandated pamphlet that patients seeking an abortion are required to read. Already, the booklet has stirred up a lot of controversy over claims that it is error-ridden, biased, and worded in a way to discourage women from getting an abortion.

“I think the outright obvious [errors] are this link between having an abortion and breast cancer,” Blake Rocap, Legislative Counsel for NARAL Pro-Choice said. “And a link between abortion and future mental health issues.”

The pamphlet was initially released in 2003 when state legislators passed a law requiring that patients seeking an abortion receive the informational pamphlet from their physician and wait 24 hours before returning. Monday’s version is the first time that booklet has been updated in over a decade.

“This version of the booklet in its revision is especially egregious because it moves even further away from medically accurate terminology into more stigmatizing and shameful information,” Rocap said. “So instead of talking about a woman’s pregnancy or an embryo or a fetus or appropriate embryological terminology, I believe every reference has been changed to ‘your baby.’”

Rocap said the state initially released a rough draft of the pamphlet in July and asked for the public’s feedback. Carrie Williams, a spokesperson with the state Health and Human Services Commission, said at the time they received 13,000 public comments. Critics said the updated version released Monday is even more flawed.

“We all believe that people should be well informed about their health care decisions, and that their doctor should provide them with the information that they need to make those decisions,” Rocap said. “But forcing doctors to lie to their patients I think is a step too far for every Texan.”

Joe Pojman, Executive Director of the pro-life group, Texas Alliance for Life, said like it or not, the booklet’s wording is “realistic.”

“When any woman goes into a doctor’s office, the doctor says congratulations you are pregnant with a baby,” Pojman said. “That is the way doctor’s talk to women who are pregnant and that’s the kind of language the brochure uses, and so we think that’s a strong point.”

Pojman said the booklet was created to contain realistic information about the risk of abortion and the risk of childbirth.

“The state of Texas cannot ban abortions,” Pojman said, “but at least the state of Texas can give women all the information they need to make a decision which is best for them.”

To read the entire text of the pamphlet, click here.

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