Rick Perry Uses Joan Rivers' Death to Justify Awful Texas Abortion Law

Illustration for article titled Rick Perry Uses Joan Rivers' Death to Justify Awful Texas Abortion Law

In a recent speech, America's least likable Reptoid Rick Perry drew an idiotic and completely specious parallel between the harsh and medically unnecessary abortion restrictions in his state and Joan Rivers' recent tragic death. If you were ever worried that anti-choice politicians had run out of stupid and offensive shit to say, it turns out that your fears were totally unfounded!


Last fall, Perry signed an omnibus anti-abortion bill into law; its purpose is to limit women's abortion access by over-regulating clinics out of existence — and, though its supporters claim that such measures are meant to protect women's health, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) oppose them because, uh, well, it's pretty obvious that intentionally obstructing obstacles around safe and legal abortion isn't beneficial to women's health. The Texas bill's strictest provision, which would require all clinics to undergo wildly costly revisions in order to qualify as ambulatory surgical centers, would have closed all but seven abortion providers in the state. (For comparison: roughly one year ago, there were 41 providers operating in the state. Now, only 19 remain.)

But Rick Perry won't let the experts silence his delusions! During a keynote session at the Texas Tribute Festival, he said, "It was interesting that when Joan Rivers, and the procedure that she had done, where she died — that was a clinic. And I'm just — it's a curious thought that if they had had that type of regulations in place, whether or not that individual would be still alive." This is wrongheaded and misleading in so many ways. First of all, and obviously, getting an abortion is nothing like getting a (possibly unauthorized) biopsy on one's vocal cords. Abortion is one of the safest surgical procedures in the world — fewer than 1% of abortion patients in America experience a major complication. In fact, woman is 10 times more likely to die in childbirth than from getting a surgical abortion. Secondly, as the Guardian notes, the center where Rivers was treated actually is an ambulatory surgical center. So, uh, it would have stayed open even if the horrible Texas laws applied to it.

It's disgusting to use a tragic death to advance an entirely unrelated political agenda — especially considering Rivers was one of the first comedians to talk openly about abortion. And Perry's comments are especially vile because limiting women's legal abortion access is actually actively harmful to women's health and safety, whereas failing to meet fabricated and unnecessary clinic regulations isn't. Data from the Guttmacher Institute shows that limiting abortion access doesn't decrease the frequency of abortion: it just makes it more likely that women will resort to illegal and unsafe alternatives. This is true in Perry's own state — Texas women have started turning to black market abortion drugs because of the deplorable abortion bill he signed into law. But, please, tell me again how instituting restrictions that force clinics to close could save lives.

In a statement, Heather Busby of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas said, "The reality is that complications happen in all areas of medicine. There's risk inherent in just about anything. You could have a heart attack and die while having your wisdom teeth removed. Should we outlaw wisdom teeth removal?" Obviously not. But, of course, the only "risk" conservative politicians are worried about is that of women freely exercising reproductive agency.


Image via Getty.



How long before some beautiful Facebook friend shares an article headlined, "Joan Rivers died while having an abortion!"

I'm giving it a day.