Damn it, Bill Maher! Get Your Facts Right!


I’m suffering through my first case of blogging writer’s block. So, I did what any good blogger would do and started surfing the web, praying to the google gods to help me find a webpage that would inspire me and be good for debate.

One of the first things I came across was an article with a clip of Bill Maher discussing the newest Arizona anti-abortion bill…..promising! So I clicked it and settled in for some snark. I know, I know, he’s a jerk and he’s polarizing, but DAMN the man is good at snark.

I’m not going to attach the clip, because the advertisement at the beginning is longer than the actual clip and I wouldn’t do that to you, but the gist of it is that Bill was making fun of an Arizona law that redefines life as beginning the first day of a woman’s menstrual period, thus saying life begins two(ish) weeks before the poor woman even has sex! Ridiculous!

This warranted further investigation. I could feel my blood pressure rising, so it was back to google to see what information I could dig up. Sure enough, page after page about this law and about how stupid and backwards it was. How it showed how far the politicians will go to push their agenda. How it went in the face of every scientific fact known to man. Absolute outrage!

So then I actually tried to find the law, and here is the write-up in case you’re interested.

http://blog.azpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/f12-12-AbortionRegs.pdf

And was I outraged too? Well, yes…..and no.

Yes, I believe this law is detrimental to women. It is now the strictest anti-abortion law in the country and I believe that if it stands it is just another stepping stone in the fight to outlaw all abortion rights. It purports to help women who are being coerced into having abortions while basically coercing women into having a child, and is called the “Women’s Health and Safety Act” which just makes me cringe, because it is clear from the inflammatory language that it is putting the wellbeing of a fetus ahead of the wellbeing (both physical and mental) of the woman who has decided for a variety of reasons that she cannot carry this particular pregnancy.

However, that is beside the point of this particular post.

First of all, the law does not state life begins on the first day of a woman’s period, it states that pregnancy begins on the first day of a woman’s period, and to Bill and all of the other commenters out there on the web, I have to tell you, it’s not politicians, Republicans or religious folk who define pregnancy that way….it’s the medical profession that does that. Yup, gestational age begins at the woman’s last period and is counted for 40 or so weeks and pregnancy has been defined this way for a long, long time.

Anyone who has had a baby knows that when you walk into your healthcare provider’s office the first question they ask you is “When was the first day of your last period?”. That is how the “due date” is calculated and in effect the first two(ish) weeks of a pregnancy, the woman is not yet pregnant. Most women find out they are pregnant after they miss a period, and by the calculated gestational age are considered 4-5 weeks pregnant when in actuality they have only been physically pregnant for 2-3 weeks. Confusing, I know, but that’s how it is. I have to explain it all the time.

 I’m a little aggravated with Bill Maher for muddying the waters on this issue. If you’re going to raise a stink, you should know your facts first, and maybe he does know the facts and was just using the opportunity to make a good joke (I do understand the difference between satiric humor and factual commentary.), but once again I feel like its much more important to arm everyone with information about what’s really going on. There’s no exaggeration or rhetoric needed, so tirades like his and those of the other internet commenters don’t help. We want people fighting against the wrong laws….but for the right reasons.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please comment below.

3 thoughts on “Damn it, Bill Maher! Get Your Facts Right!

  1. You make a great point — it helps no one when the waters are muddied. Maher should have said “pregnancy” and not “life” if that’s what the bill says. AND THEN, he should have made the point, which I think is probably valid, that by defining pregnancy as such, they are trying to redefine life. But, I haven’t read the bill and this is the first I’ve heard of it–what is the point of it? Just to redefine pregnancy?

    Love the photo above, by the way.

    • The point of the bill is that it outlaws abortions after 20 weeks gestation, and put new regulations on physicians who perform 1st trimester medical (meaning using medications instead of surgery) abortions. There is also regulations on waiting periods, ultrasounds and signage in doctor’s offices about alternatives to abortion.

      The point with the definition of pregnancy is that Arizona didn’t redefine anything. Pregnancy gestation is considered to “begin” with the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period. The woman’s “due date” is set 40 weeks after the start of her last period. So a woman on her due date is 40 weeks pregnant, (or at 40 weeks gestational age) but has been physically pregnant for any about 38 weeks depending on when she conceived. Gestational age has always been calculated this way so Arizona isn’t doing anything new there which is what Bill Maher was talking about.

  2. Jenn P says:

    It is an interesting argument that I’ve always wondered about. Another is the misperception of “conception.” I wonder how many people realize that conception does not equal sex which results in pregnancy…as in, it wasn’t the act of sex which made it conception. It was the act of zygote implantation which made it conception. When people say “life from moment of conception” how are they pinpointing that date exactly? It could be anywhere from 24 hours to 2 weeks from the act of sex. Some make it seem so black and white when it is not.

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