Whom Should Facebook Believe About Medically Necessary Abortions, Actual Doctors or Lila Rose?
On Wednesday, following complaints of "bias" from four Republican senators, Facebook opted to remove a "fact check" on a video from a Live Action video that claimed, ridiculously, that there was no such thing as a medically necessary abortion and that all any doctor had to do to preserve the lives of the mother and child was to deliver the baby early.
Back in August, following a review from an independent fact-checking organization, the International Fact-Checking Network, Facebook put up a warning on the post noting that it contained inaccurate information and explaining that, yes, there are indeed situations where an abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother. They also sent notifications to those who follow the page, letting them know that this information had been deemed false. Additionally, as a result of Live Action having made a number of equally absurd and fact-free assertions, they received a notification that they were being put on restriction for having shared so much "false news."
"Your Page has reduced distribution and other restrictions because of repeated sharing of false news. People will also be able to see if a Page has a history of sharing false news."
In response to this, Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Braun, Josh Hawley, and Kevin Cramer sent a letter directly to Mark Zuckerberg accusing the site of bias and of "censoring" conservative speech, which apparently relies on saying things that are untrue. Their reasoning for this was that two of the doctors consulted by the fact-checking organization were known to be pro-choice.
Of course, being pro-choice or even being "biased" does not make one factually incorrect. For instance, I can personally believe that both Lila Rose and Ted Cruz are morons who have no business whatsoever talking about women's reproductive health — and yet, were I to say "Lila Rose and Ted Cruz both have brown hair," that would not automatically make them blonde bombshells.
Behold, the extremely "biased" fact-check:
Inaccurate: Certain medical conditions such as placenta previa and HELLP syndrome can make abortion a necessary medical procedure in order to prevent the mother's death.
Misleading: While it is possible for early delivery to preserve both the life of the mother and child in the event of a life-threatening condition, as the video suggests, it does not mention that this is only applicable when a fetus' gestational age is advanced enough that its survival outside the womb is possible (generally >24 weeks old). In situations where a fetus has not developed sufficiently, it would not be possible for expedited delivery to save its life.
Ah yes, the well-known liberal bias that an undeveloped fetus cannot survive outside of the womb.
The fact is that I — a person who failed 10th grade biology on account of the fact that I thought that my time was better spent chainsmoking at a Perkins than being anywhere near the vicinity of dead frogs or "owl pellets" — am just as qualified to determine that this statement is false as any doctor is. Is it because I am so very informed as a result of many years of advocating for reproductive rights? Is it my own bias that leads me to this conclusion. No, it is not that.
It is because I can Google. I, like almost anyone else in the world with access to Google, can type in "denied medically necessary abortion death" and find multiple examples of people dying after being denied abortion. For instance, the case that led Ireland to legalize abortion, the extremely preventable death of Savita Halappanavar, who died after being denied an abortion. Or the case of a 14-year-old Peruvian rape victim who also died after being denied an abortion. I can also type in "deaths pre-eclampsia" and "deaths ectopic pregnancy" and see that there are, indeed, people who have died from pregnancy complications who would not have been dead had they had an abortion. I can see that bleeding from ectopic pregnancies — which are not viable and have absolutely no chance in resulting in a baby being born alive — caused the deaths of 876 American women from 1980 to 2007 and is the leading cause of first-trimester maternal deaths.
I do not need a medical degree (or to have ever dissected any owl shit) to provide evidence that this is bullshit, because of all the dead people. The dead people, in this case, are the evidence. Dead people, Facebook. Dead people. I can be biased all day long, it does not make those people undead. Only a Necronomicon can do that. Or a Pet Sematary. Or the bite of a Sumatran rat-monkey.
This is, per Facebook, just a temporary measure until they can figure out what the actual deal is and who it is here that is "biased." Is it the medical professionals and the actual dead people, or is it Lila Rose, a moron who makes her living lying about abortion, birth control and Planned parenthood, and Ted Cruz. It is a difficult decision, I guess.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse