Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Abortion Opinion Shattered One Prevalent Abortion Myth

The Supreme Court wrapped up its wild 2015-2016 term on a positive note Monday, striking a huge blow to the anti-choice movement and its primary means of restricting choice. In the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision, SCOTUS determined that Texas’ HB2 law, which required clinics providing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and adhere to standards for ambulatory surgical centers, is unconstitutional, as it places an undue burden on women seeking abortions. The decision delivered a powerful victory to abortion rights on a legal level, and in her fiery opinion on the case, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg shattered a huge abortion myth, delivering a powerful victory to abortion rights on a cultural level as well.

“Texas argues that H. B. 2’s restrictions are constitutional because they protect the health of women who experience complications from abortions. In truth, ‘complications from an abortion are both rare and rarely dangerous,'” Ginsburg wrote.

She continued: “Many medical procedures, including childbirth, are far more dangerous to patients, yet are not subject to ambulatory surgical-center or hospital admitting-privileges requirements. … Given those realities, it is beyond rational belief that H. B. 2 could genuinely protect the health of women, and certain that the law ‘would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions.'”

And, frankly, the facts are on her side. First and second trimester abortions rank among the safest surgical procedures available, and women are literally 10 times as likely to die after childbirth than after an abortion, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. This number is even greater in a study by the Columbia University Medical Center, which found that women are 14 times more likely to die giving birth than having an abortion. For every 11,000 babies born, one woman died, while only one in 167,000 women died from abortion complications between 1998 and 2005, according to a Washington Post report.

Further backing up Ginsburg’s claim that rather than protect women, HB2 was actually detrimental to them, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and other medical professional groups unanimously identified the requirements thrust upon Texas abortion clinics as “unnecessary” and even “harmful” to women in a brief sent to the Supreme Court earlier this month.

Despite the claims of anti-choice lawmakers that these regulations benefit women, actual medical professionals have identified HB2 as just another costly effort to misleadingly cast abortion as dangerous and shameful, and either discourage or render it impossible for women to obtain the procedure. Yet ultimately, it should come as no surprise that the anti-choice movement continues to cling onto its unfounded understanding of abortion as medically dangerous. If science and medical research really mattered to anyone in the movement built on the premise that life begins at conception, it would quite literally cease to exist.