Fox Hides Harmful Effects Of State Attacks On Women's Choice

Fox News ran a dishonest report on a proposed bill to prohibit states from imposing unusually burdensome regulations on abortion clinics, hiding the harmful effects that the barrage of onerous state restrictions on abortion have had on access to abortion.

On the July 15 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, correspondent Molly Henneberg reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the Women's Health Protection Act, sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). The bill would prohibit states from enacting abortion restrictions that are more onerous than placed on similar outpatient procedures. Both Henneberg and host Bret Baier framed the legislation as an attempt to appeal to the Democratic base; the segment also amplified misinformation from its critics and invoked convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell.

Unmentioned in Henneberg's report were the harmful effects on women's health that the rapid expansion of state abortion regulations, known as Targeted Regulations of Abortion Provider (TRAP) laws, has had. Such laws single out abortion clinics for regulations not applied to other clinics that provide procedures with similar risk, like colonoscopies. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 26 states have abortion regulations that go beyond what is necessary for patient safety, and the number of states with TRAP laws has more than doubled since 2000. These laws have effectively shuttered many abortion clinics in the states. In Texas, all but six abortion clinics are expected to close after new regulations are fully enacted, which would, according to Whole Woman's Health CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller, “put more women at risk for later term abortions or for illicit abortions outside the medical community.”

Henneberg uncritically repeated anti-choice lawmakers' claim that “abortion is different from any other medical service,” featuring comments from Rep. Diane Black (R-TN),who claimed abortion “poses many serious medical risks to the mother.” But according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “abortion is one of the safest medical procedures. The risk of complications from abortion is minimal, with less than 0.5% of abortions involving major complications.”

Henneberg also attributed many of the state abortion restrictions to a reaction to the crimes of convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell, despite the fact that Gosnell's crimes bear no resemblance to the legal abortions performed at clinics the restrictions target.