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."
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.
Especially when it came to Cruz's home state of Texas, which has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country.
Many women who have had life-threatening pregnancies spoke out against Cruz's dishonest rhetoric as well.
And plenty of others called for Cruz would just stop talking about pregnancy altogether.
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'..."