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Liberal MP mistakenly claims abortion is needed for miscarriage care

MP Marci Ien at the Status of Women Committee meeting, May 18, 2023, Ottawa. 

June 9, 2023 (Campaign Life Coalition) – A Liberal MP defended the Trudeau government’s recent funding to increase abortion access, mistakenly claiming that abortion is needed for miscarriage care and relating how her own miscarriage care was equivalent to an abortion.

MP Marci Ien (Toronto Centre), the Liberal Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, said that “mothers have abortions too” when it comes to miscarriage care. She said this on May 18 during a Status of Women Committee meeting in response to a question about the Liberal government’s “resolve” earlier in the month to increase funding for abortion by $4.2 million.

MP Ien related the story of her own miscarriage and why she was glad for legal abortion in Canada.

“I have an 11-year-old boy, and before I had him, I miscarried. I was thinking about this last week. When that happened, I was given a choice, and that choice was to pass this at home or go to the hospital to get a D and C. I was thinking about it because when we look at this, it's not always about 14-year-old or 15-year-old girls. It's about moms too,” she said.

“When I look at what's happening in the States and see that there are women who are going into septic shock because they can't go to a hospital before a certain period of time or get the treatment they need, I think we need to talk about these things here, so I put myself up as an example,” she added.

According to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, a dilation and curettage (D&C) is a “surgical procedure in which the cervix (lower, narrow part of the uterus) is dilated (expanded) so that the uterine lining (endometrium) can be scraped with a curette (spoon-shaped instrument) to remove abnormal tissues.” A post-miscarriage D&C can be necessary in cases where the deceased pre-born infant of a mother must be removed. D&C can also be used in an abortion where the child is killed and removed.

Canadian family physician Dr. Kiely Williams told Campaign Life Coalition in an interview that while the D&C procedure is largely the same for an abortion and miscarriage care, the procedure is “not morally equivalent” in both cases.

Dr. Kiely Williams, Canadian Physicians for Life

“An elective abortion is done for the sole purpose of making sure a woman does not give birth to a baby. Elective abortions are done because the woman is pregnant with a live baby. If there was no life inside her; the procedure would not be required. In an elective abortion, in a healthy woman with a healthy pregnancy, the procedure is not performed because there is any increased medical risk to the mother/ pregnant woman. It is performed for the sole purpose of making sure she does not give birth to a child,” she said.

Dr. Williams, pointed out, however, that in the case of a miscarriage, the baby growing inside the mother has died from natural causes.

“The ‘products of conception’ (deceased human, placenta, chorion etc.) must be removed, because if they are not, they present a greatly increased risk of becoming a source of infection that can cause significant illness and even death (if not treated) in the pregnant woman,” she said.

“This is not the case for elective abortion. Elective abortions are not done because of a risk of infection to the pregnant woman. They are done because, if they are not, the woman will give birth to a live child. Women are only pregnant when there is a live human developing inside them. If that human dies, for any reason, the woman is no longer considered pregnant. Therefore, elective abortion’s sole purpose is to end the life of a developing human before the woman gives birth,” she added.

In these words, Dr. Williams makes it clear that miscarriage care is not an abortion. The care that MP Ien received was ethical care for a mother with a deceased child in her. She did not receive an abortion.

Confusion about the difference between abortion and miscarriage care is rampant after the fall of the abortion decision Roe. v. Wade in the U.S. last year. Abortion activists have been stoking fear that restrictions on abortion access in pro-life states will mean that women will not be able to receive miscarriage care. At the end of last year, Jessa Duggar Seewald, a vocally Christian and pro-life celebrity from the US, tragically suffered a miscarriage. Due to medical complications, it was necessary for her to have a D&C which removed her deceased child. Abortion activists immediately claimed that Seewald had benefited from an abortion procedure. The Arkansas Times published an opinion piece claiming that Seewald was a hypocrite for having an abortion. Jezebel published a piece with the headline: “Jessa Duggar Seewald Had an Abortion, Even If She Won't Say the Word.”

“This is at best ignorance, at worst a cruel lie,” said pro-life advocate and Live Action foundress Lila Rose in a tweet about the media’s spin on what happened to Seewald. “Jessa miscarried. Her baby passed away & she needed a surgery to remove her little one's body. An abortion intentionally kills a living baby. Abortion is an intentional act of homicide, a miscarriage is a tragic natural death.”

The truth is that Seewald had a D&C to remove the contents of her uterus after suffering from a miscarriage. She was no longer pregnant at the time she had the D&C. She did not intentionally end the life of her child. She did not have an abortion.

The D&C procedure was invented in the late 19th century. It existed prior to legal abortion and will continue to be morally and legally used to help women who miscarry or who have other gynaecological conditions in pro-life nations that have banned abortion. This procedure is not and would never be made illegal by pro-life legislation.

Editor’s note: CLC communications director Pete Baklinski contributed to this report