Yesterday, NARAL discovered that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had revised a government website, 4parents.gov, with biased and misleading ideological claims about abortion. From new website:
Some teen pregnancies end in abortion. Abortions can have complications. There may be emotional consequences, as well: some women say that they feel sad and some use more alcohol or drugs than before.
The previous version of the site contained factual information about the rates of teen pregnancy. But these new “facts” on the site are misleading. As the Guttmacher Institute’s May 2006 report noted:
[T]he APA [American Psychological Association] found that “women who are terminating pregnancies that are wanted or who lack support from their partner or parents for the abortion may feel a greater sense of loss, anxiety and distress. For most women, however, the time of greatest distress is likely to be before an abortion; after an abortion, women frequently report feeling ‘relief and happiness.'”
There is no “right” way to feel after an abortion, and it is not HHS’s role to highlight information implying that women regret having abortions. Women feel a “range of emotions after an abortion, such as relief, sadness, happiness and feelings of loss.” “It is outrageous that the department charged with providing Americans objective information about health is disguising unproven political rhetoric as sound science,” noted NARAL president Nancy Keenan.
This is not the first time 4parents.gov has put forth misleading information. When the site launched in 2005, it told parents “to convince their teens to stop having sex by telling their children that they are ‘worth it.’” But no resources were provided for “parents whose teen remains sexually active, implying that these youth are not ‘worth it.'” It also referred to a “fetus” as an “unborn baby.”
Yesterday, Richard Carmona told Congress that when he served as Bush’s Surgeon General, he was often muzzled and censored from speaking out on key issues, such as stem cell research and women’s issues. “Anything that doesn’t fit into the political appointees’ ideological, theological, or political agenda is ignored, marginalized, or simply buried,” said Carmona.
UPDATE: In 2005, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) sent Leavitt a letter with reviews by scientific experts who concluded that 4parents.gov’s content appeared “to have been guided by ideology.” He also noted that the website was not created by government scientists, as the administration claimed, “but rather through a no-bid contract to the National Physician’s Center for Family Resources, an obscure organization that has taken positions against scientific agencies on important matters of public health.”
See the previous version of the website: