Ted Cruz Slammed For Saying Pregnancy Is 'Not Life-Threatening' Despite Statistics Proving Otherwise
Senator Ted Cruz has come under fire with women's groups and reproductive-freedom proponents for an incendiary comment he made on Twitter about the nature of pregnancy.
In his tweet, Cruz claimed that pregnancy is not "life-threatening," despite the fact that it frequently is for may women and that the United States has the highest maternal death rate in the developed world.
Cruz's comments were part of a tweet about the drug Mifeprex, the so-called "abortion pill."
Pregnancy is not a life-threatening illness, and the abortion pill does not cure or prevent any disease. Make no mistake, Mifeprex is a dangerous pill. That's why 20 of my Republican colleagues and I are urging @US_FDA to classify it as such.https://t.co/zDZoCKKg9S
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) September 2, 2020
Mifeprex is one of two medications used for medical abortions in the United States.
It has been approved by the FDA since the 1990s, but a group of 21 Republican Senators, including Cruz, are seeking to have it banned.
Cruz's tweet includes several baseless statements about both pregnancy and Mifeprex. It reads:
"Pregnancy is not a life-threatening illness, and the abortion pill does not cure or prevent any disease. Make no mistake, Mifeprex is a dangerous pill."
Reproductive and public health expert Dr. Beverly Winikoff, whose research was used to approve Mifeprex in the 1990s, spoke to USA Today to clarify the facts about Cruz's allegations.
On pregnancy, she stated:
"No, [pregnancy is] not an illness, but it is life-threatening."
In fact, roughly 700 women die and about 50,000 are severely harmed in the U.S. each year because of complications related to childbirth, a maternal mortality rate more than double that of Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Canada and Japan.
As for the safety of Mifeprex, as Winikoff explained, pregnancy itself is in fact riskier than the drug.
"The odds of dying in pregnancy are higher than dying from this drug. So in fact, if you wanted to make a risk calculation, it's actually safer to have a medical abortion, than it is to have a full-term pregnancy. We have data on that."
And Mifeprex has a better safety record than drugs like penicillin and Viagra.
But Cruz and his colleagues contend that Mifeprex was rushed to approval by the FDA and subsequently rushed to market.
Here again, Cruz et. al. are incorrect, as Winikoff explained:
"The FDA was super cautious about this. They held more hearings than usual. They took a longer time than usual. They imposed restrictions that are very uncommon for a drug with a track record as safe as this one."
On Twitter, people were enraged by Cruz's blatant disregard for the truth, and issued him a fiery fact-check.
Ted Cruz's chauvinistic attitude is part of the reason why the United States has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the industrialized world. We doubled our maternal mortality rate from the 1980s to today. Pregnancy is not an illness, but it is life threatening in America.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) September 3, 2020
Erectile dysfunction isn't not life threatening either.
Yet ED medications such as Viagra have been linked to hundreds of deaths & severe adverse reactions since it was approved in 1998, over 500 in the first year. Mifeprex only 24 deaths in 18 years since approval in 2000!
— Pam Woodard (@Pop3Pam) September 3, 2020
Ted Cruz has never been pregnant and clearly knows nothing about maternal mortality rates in the US or in Texas. People die in childbirth at an unconscionable rate, especially women of color. Not from medication abortion. Sadly, knowledge is not a prerequisite for power. https://t.co/EjER9RGfXC
— ilyseh (@ilyseh) September 3, 2020
Especially when it came to Cruz's home state of Texas, which has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country.
Texas has a maternal mortality rate of 34.5 per 100k live births (8th highest in US, shockingly 14 of 15 highest states voted Trump in 2016). Texas mortality rate is just worse than Syria, but slightly better than Egypt.
— David Rothschild (@DavMicRot) September 3, 2020
Texas has one of highest maternal mortality rates in the country and medications for erectile dysfunction are more dangerous than Mifeprex.
Get out of our personal medical decisions. Thanks!
— Rep. Anna V. Eskamani 🔨 (@AnnaForFlorida) September 3, 2020
Many women who have had life-threatening pregnancies spoke out against Cruz's dishonest rhetoric as well.
Really? That's funny, considering pre-eclampsia shut my heart and lungs down. Guess I imagined that.
— Christina Allen Page 💗💜💙 (@sihayadesigns) September 3, 2020
I suspect all of the women who died from pregnancy/maternal complications would disagree but they can't. Because they're dead.
My first pregnancy (which was planned and desired-not that it matters) would have killed me.
— Jenny Lawson (@TheBloggess) September 3, 2020
Oh man when I started hemorrhaging and needed emergency surgery 7 weeks postpartum, I wish Ted Cruz had been there with me lying on the bathroom floor to tell me my life wasn't threatened. https://t.co/jozVa9S0Lp
— Bess Kalb (@bessbell) September 3, 2020
And plenty of others called for Cruz would just stop talking about pregnancy altogether.
Until a baby comes out of a Ted Cruz' body, an opinion on abortion shouldn't come out of his mouth.
— Middle Age Riot (@middleageriot) September 3, 2020
Get out of my uterus.
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) September 3, 2020
As for Cruz's rebuttal, he contends his words were twisted. In a follow-up tweet, he wrote:
"We didn't say pregnancy was 'not life threatening.' We said 'pregnancy is not a life-threatening illness'..."