Baltimore Sun's Red Maryland Dismisses Experts To Defend TX's Draconian Anti-Choice Legislation

The Baltimore Sun's conservative blog Red Maryland published a misguided defense of Texas' draconian anti-choice legislation, attacking Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis in the process.

The January 30 op-ed authored by Red Maryland's Brian Griffiths used recent comments from Maryland Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley about protecting of “the dignity of every Marylander” to not only defend harmful anti-choice laws passed in Texas earlier this year, but to also attack Davis' filibuster of the legislation last June:

In Texas, State Sen. Wendy Davis was made a national hero for unsuccessfully filibustering against greater regulations on abortions. While such standards don't meet the goal of eliminating abortions, these amendments to Texas law protected the rights of the unborn and ensured that women were not subject to unsanitary and unsafe medical conditions. Far from being extreme, the changes included prohibiting the killing an unborn child after 20 weeks, recognizing the concept of fetal pain, requiring abortion clinics to meet minimum surgical medical standards and requiring medical oversight for the use of abortion-causing drugs.

Ms. Davis' filibuster and vehement opposition, while completely unpopular in her home state, made her such a national hero that facts about her political resume were conveniently discarded. But what about Wendy Davis' opposition to this bill was heroic?

But the legislation in Texas doesn't protect women from “unsanitary and unsafe medical conditions.” Rather, it seeks to accomplish what Griffiths calls the “goal of eliminating abortions.”  Texas' laws have made it increasingly more difficult for pregnant women to seek reproductive services with doctors at 34 of the state's women's health clinics failing to win admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles (as mandated by the law), forcing “at least 12 abortion clinics to stop providing abortions and other clinics to scale back their services,” though three have since reopened. However, as the Dallas News explained, in 2011, not a single woman died of abortion-related causes in the state, but 116 died of pregnancy-related complications.

Red Maryland's claims also ignore medical experts' analysis of the dangers the Texas law poses to women in the state. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) denounced the Texas law, saying that it would “jeopardize women's health care as well as interfere with medical practice and the patient-physician relationship.” In addition, a majority of Texans did not support the legislation, with one poll showing that 74 percent of Texans believe that private medical decisions about abortion should not be made by politicians.

The Texas law's limiting of abortions after 20 weeks also puts the life of the fetus and mother in danger if certain pregnancies are forced to go to term. According to health experts, ultrasounds between 18 and 20 weeks are the optimal time to determine if there will be severe malformations. However, as ACOG explained in 2012, by the time a diagnosis is confirmed, the pregnancy “has often progressed beyond 20 weeks” and delaying abortions can put the “patient's health in serious jeopardy.”

Mainstreaming these unnecessary roadblocks to care, as Red Maryland attempted to do, only furthers the myth that abortions are unsafe and unregulated while continuing to harm women's access to necessary medical care.