Last week, Facebook removed a post that fact-checked an inaccurate anti-abortion video. The decision came after mounting pressure from four male lawmakers: Sens. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Kevin Cramer and Mike Braun.
Daniel Grossman, professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California at San Francisco and director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health; and Robyn Schickler, a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist and a fellow of Physicians for Reproductive Health are fighting back.
Last month, the anti-abortion group Live Action posted a video to the Facebook page of its founder Lila Rose, claiming abortion was never medically necessary, and Facebook asked the fact-checking site Health Feedback to review it. Health Feedback reached out to us as medical professionals, and we both commented that the video was inaccurate.
What happened next seems less shocking in an era when politicians routinely dismiss fact as fiction: Republican Sens. Josh Hawley (Mo.), Ted Cruz (Tex.), Kevin Cramer (N.D.), and Mike Braun (Ind.) sent a letter to Facebook complaining that the fact-check was biased, and Facebook responded by removing our assessment. Rose’s inaccurate video remains posted.
This is wrong. Ask any obstetrician and they will surely have a tale to recount: A woman’s water breaks at 20 weeks, and she develops signs of infection — not only in her uterus but in her blood; a patient with a placenta previa, where the placenta covers the uterine opening, begins to have heavy bleeding at 19 weeks; a woman pregnant at 21 weeks develops severe preeclampsia, characterized by high blood pressure, that affects her liver. These babies cannot survive outside the uterus, and an abortion is medically indicated to save the woman’s life.
“Sometimes when tragedy strikes, the best medical treatment involves abortion, because that’s the fastest and safest way to save the pregnant woman’s life,” Grossman and Schickler write. “But nowadays, even these basic facts are highly politicized—so much so that a company such as Facebook has become unwilling to stand up to those pushing misinformation on the subject. This is a dangerous development.”