According to their Facebook page, the folks at What If examine “some of the most provocative hypothetical questions and try to answer them with modern scientific theories.” But in addition to wondering what would happen “if Earth was cut in half” or “if you fell into a volcano,” they also do something else.
That's evident from a video they released asking, “What if the world followed Alabama's example and banned abortion?” Viewers are told to “imagine a world where no woman could ask for an abortion.” However, it’s not just the scenario that’s imaginary; the “facts” are too. The good news? Correcting them isn't hard.
The law permits abortion when "necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child's mother." Data from Florida shows such instances are far from the norm: in 2018, only one point five percent of abortions were reported as having been done to protect a woman's physical health. What's more, Dr. Anthony Levatino has performed over twelve hundred abortions (you can verify his medical license here), and in the video below, he explains why late-term abortion is never needed to save the life of a mother.
Next, the narrator acknowledges that research indicates a fetus can feel pain at eighteen weeks, but he or she is referred to as a "potential human being." Naturally, this raises a question:
The idea that a woman could somehow gestate non-human life is a scientific absurdity. So is the thought that traveling down a birth canal somehow change what species you belong to. Gianna Jessen was accidentally delivered during a botched abortion (you can watch her testify before Congress about it). She was just as human when the procedure started as she was when it ended.
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We're also told to envision "hospitals overflowing with women dying from having tried to induce an abortion on their own." However, CDC records show that in 1972 (the year before Roe v. Wade was decided), thirty nine women died from illegal abortions; another twenty four died from legal ones. Given this, it seems far fetched that America’s maternal mortality rate would skyrocket following an abortion ban. Poland's rate actually went down, dropping from seventeen per one hundred thousand when abortion was outlawed in 1990 to just three by 2015. Chile’s continued to drop after abortion was restricted there. Further, Malta, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Lebanon all ban or heavily limit abortion and yet all have better maternal mortality figures than the US.
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Then there's the claim that without abortion, women risk "anxiety and low self-esteem." That's not what a study published in the British Medical Journal found: it reported that women who abort face a higher suicide risk than those who don't.
We're also told how banning abortion would mean women would have to raise children "they might not be able to care for or financially support," but that definitely isn't true in the US: those seeking to adopt outnumber available infants. By some estimates, there are as many as 36 waiting couples for every baby, and they aren't hard to find.
Now, you can argue that this isn't the case in the developing world, and that's an area the video spends a lot of time on, fretting that an abortion ban would be followed by ecologically unsustainable population growth there. The problem with that prediction? Most developing countries already ban abortion. And there probably wouldn't be a baby boom in developed nations either. As mentioned above, Poland and Malta ban abortion while Ireland did up until this year, and yet all three have fertility rates below replacement levels. In fact, abortion restrictions correlate with higher contraceptive use and lower pregnancy rates.
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In addition to the outright lies, disingenuous questions are posed, such as, "And what about those who had an abortion and got caught?" We're then instructed to consider whether "prisons would be overwhelmed." Well, if the world is copying Alabama's legislation, then the answer is clear: "No woman upon whom an abortion is performed or attempted to be performed shall be criminally or civilly liable."
Finally, there are implications that go unaddressed. For example, the production concludes with, "Let’s face it – being forced to have a child benefits no one – not the mother, not the planet, and most certainly, not the baby." If that justifies killing children in the womb, why wouldn't it justify killing them outside of it as well? After all, the same arguments that What If makes for the former could just as easily be applied to the latter.
Instead of embarking on "an epic journey through hypothetical worlds and possibilities," the folks at What If should focus on doing something more basic.
Telling the truth.