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July 13, 2022

Pressley at Hearing: Misinformation About Abortion Puts Lives at Further Risk

Highlights Importance of Access to Medication Abortion, Deadly
Consequences of Denying Care

Tells GOP Witness: “It seems that there is a deficit in your
understanding of reproductive health.”

Video (YouTube)

WASHINGTON – In a House Oversight Committee hearing today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus’ Abortion Rights and Access Task Force, underscored the deadly consequences of denying abortion care to people who need it and how far-right misinformation about abortion care puts lives at risk. A Republican witness at the hearing repeatedly stated medically inaccurate information, including denying that the necessary, lifesaving treatment for ruptured ectopic pregnancies is abortion care.

Rep. Pressley also highlighted the importance of protecting access to medication abortion, including mifepristone.

Congresswoman Pressley chairs the Abortion Rights and Access Task Force and has been a long-time champion for access to abortion care.

Last month, shortly before the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, Rep. Pressley led a group of her Black women colleagues in writing to President Biden urging him to declare a public health emergency amid the unprecedented threats to abortion rights nationwide. She condemned the Supreme Court decision and called on the President to use every executive tool available to protect abortion access. 

Rep. Pressley is also a lead co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), bicameral federal legislation to guarantee equal access to abortion care, everywhere. WHPA passed the House in September 2021. 

A full transcript of her exchange with witnesses today is available below, and the full video is available here.

Transcript: Pressley at Hearing: Misinformation About Abortion Puts Lives at Further Risk
House Committee on Oversight and Reform
July 13, 2022

Thank you, Madam Chair.

REP. PRESSLEY: Ms. Hawley, please state for the record. When an ectopic pregnancy ruptures, what are the chances that it can be carried to term?

MSHAWLEY: My understanding is that when an ectopic pregnancy ruptures, it is a life-threatening condition. That’s why the treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is not an abortion.

REPPRESSLEY: I’m so sorry, reclaiming my time here. Again, can you just answer the question: when an ectopic pregnancy ruptures, what are the chances that it can be safely carried to term?

And you know what, just to make this even clearer. I am looking for a number between zero to 100. Can you give me a percentage?

MSHAWLEY: Sure, I believe zero ectopic pregnancies, even those that do not rupture, have a chance at successfully being carried to term. That’s why the treatment for them is not an abortion. [This is medically inaccurate]

REPPRESSLEY: Reclaiming my time. It seems that there is a deficit in your understanding of reproductive health.

In fact, I want the record to reflect that according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “treatment for ectopic pregnancy requires ending a nonviable pregnancy.”

Now, let’s turn—

MSHAWLEY: With respect, ma’am, that’s not an abortion. [This is medically inaccurate]

REPPRESSLEY: This is my time. I asked you the question. You answered. And I am now providing you with accurate information from medical experts.

My question was, when an ectopic pregnancy ruptures, what are the chances it can be safely carried to term? The answer is zero percent.

MSHAWLEY: I answered that correctly, ma’am.

REPPRESSLEY: Further, when it comes to one’s accurate understanding of reproductive health and abortion care, with an ectopic pregnancy, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says, “treatment for ectopic pregnancy requires ending a nonviable pregnancy.” This is my time, end quote.

So now, I’m going to turn to the real experts.

*cross talk*

MSHAWLEY: That’s not an abortion because it does not have the intent to end the life of the child. [This is medically inaccurate]

REPPRESSLEY: Reclaiming my time. I’m now going to turn over to the real experts.

So, despite the active misinformation campaign that is endangering the lives of pregnant people — including much of the testimony heard here today — endangering the lives of pregnant people, their families, and entire communities, this hearing is an opportunity for quality public health education that prioritizes equity and justice in reproductive health care.

Representative Shannon, I would like to ask you about medication abortion. Now, this is a topic many are hearing about for the first time in the news.

Since first being approved by the FDA more than 20 years ago, medication abortion is now the most common form of abortion healthcare. It is discreet, incredibly safe, and highly effective.

In my home state, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, nearly half of pregnancies are terminated by medication abortion.

Last year, Chairwoman Maloney and I led calls to improve access to the medication abortion drug mifepristone and end arbitrary and burdensome restrictions that experts agreed were medically unnecessary.

And thankfully, the FDA revised its regulations so that patients can receive mifepristone, what many of us refer to as mifi, by mail.

Representative Shannon, what does having access to medication abortion, by mail, mean for people in your state, particularly people of color?

REPSHANNON: Yes, thank you. So, as I mentioned before, in most of our state, the resources are located in Atlanta, and so around the state a lot of folks don’t have access to providers.

So being able to have access to medication abortion means that people can get access to care after they’ve made their decision, regardless of what zip code they live in.

And we all know that forcing someone to carry a pregnancy, an unwanted pregnancy, leads to poor health outcomes.

So having access to medication abortion is the right thing to do.

REPPRESSLEY: Thank you, Ms. Lopez, based on your experience working to connect pregnant people in Texas with abortion care, would increased government support to expand abortion access, including medication abortion, benefit the clients that you work with?

MSLOPEZ: Absolutely, especially now that we’ve seen most clinics in Texas shutter, and especially because of HB2, which was passed in 2013, that shuttered the rest — over half the clinics in Texas.

REPPRESSLEY: Thank you very much. I think the point here is that pregnant people in multiple states have had emergency surgery delayed and their lives put at risk, while lawyers and doctors debate care due to confusion, caused by the Republicans and this far-right Supreme Court.

This is a matter of life and death.

Thank you.