No one can be an expert in every subject.

In fact, few people are truly experts at even one thing. Unfortunately, knowledge level and confidence in one’s opinion aren’t terribly related. This is seen in imposter syndrome – when an incredibly educated person doubts themselves – and in the Dunning-Kruger effect, when someone falsely thinks they’re competent and can’t see their errors.

To say the legislators behind the recent swath of abortion bans are falling prey to the Dunning-Kruger effect, miscalculating their own comprehension of the science of reproduction, would be a generous interpretation.  But imagine if, in order to legislate something, lawmakers had to demonstrate at least a minimal level of understanding first.

The following is a very brief quiz for elected officials of all levels to check for baseline knowledge on anatomy, reproduction and pregnancy. It’s the kind of information that would be developmentally appropriate for someone to have in middle school – if Republicans hadn’t been actively fighting sex education for the last several decades.

1.  Assuming day one is the first day of menses, and that someone has an average menstrual cycle of 28 days, on which days is ovulation most likely to happen?

  • a. Days 5-10
  • b. Days 13-18
  • c. Days 21-25   
  • d. Days 26-28

2. Which is not a routine part of a gynecological exam?

  • a. External exam of vulva
  • b. Speculum is inserted in the vagina
  • c. Camera is inserted inside the mouth
  • d. Bi-manual exam, where a doctor presses down on abdomen while gloved and lubricated fingers are inserted in the vagina

3. Which is false about twins?

  • a. Identical twins share the same genetic information
  • b. Fraternal twins occur when two different eggs are released and both are fertilized and implanted
  • c. Odds of becoming pregnant with twins goes down with increased age
  • d. Being pregnant with twins is much harder on the pregnant person’s body

4. When is the earliest a fetus can survive outside of a pregnant person’s body?

  • a. 6 weeks
  • b. 12 weeks
  • c. 20 weeks
  • d. 24 weeks

5. If a fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tube, also known as an ectopic pregnancy, which is not a possible outcome?

  • a. The pregnancy can be ended with drugs or surgery
  • b. Miscarriage
  • c. The pregnant person may experience serious complications or even death
  • d. The fertilized egg can be moved to the uterus
Abortion II::Maria Oswalt.jpg

A number of states are holding up signs like these as an ongoing fight against Roe v. Wade wages on in courts all across the country. | Image: Maria Oswalt

You took the quiz, now it’s time to see how much you know when it comes to your “informed decision” on abortion and a woman’s right to choose.

1. B. Days 13-20. Ovulation is when an egg is released from the ovaries and starts its path down the fallopian tube. It is during this time that conception is possible. But this varies dramatically from person to person.

Why do legislators need to know this?

Fertility isn’t always predictable and conception can happen when it’s not expected, even among those who use fertility tracking methods. The best bet to avoid unintended pregnancy is consistent and correct use of contraceptive methods. Many hormonal methods are also prescribed for other health conditions. Someone should tell this to the Trump administration, which has broadened employers’ ability to deny contraceptive coverage to employees.

2. C.  A camera inserted inside the mouth would not reach the reproductive organs, but head through the digestive system or airway. The other parts are normal parts of the exam.

Why do legislators need to know this?

Someone ought to review anatomy with Idaho state representative Vito Barbieri. During a hearing on telemedicine, he asked if a woman can swallow a camera for doctors to conduct a remote gynecological exam.

3.  C. Because odds of carrying twins increase with maternal age. Other factors that increase the odds of twins include number of previous pregnancies and use of assisted reproductive techniques.

Why do legislators need to know this?

Certainly Sen. Willitan Ligon, Jr. (R-GA) needs to hear this, since he falsely argued that “in modern medicine, we know that life in the womb begins at conception. We know that the child’s life is unique with his or her own DNA and blood type.” Having separate blood types and DNA is not the basis on which we decide whether a life is viable.

4.  D. 24 weeks. The world record for earliest premature birth that survived was just shy of 22 weeks. Fewer than half of 23-week births can survive outside of a uterus, even with medical support. According to the medical community, 24 weeks is considered the point of viability.

Why do legislators need to know this?

Someone ought to tell Georgia state senator Matt Brass that he was wrong when he said even at the embryo stage, it is an entirely “separate entity from its mother.” In reality, a fetus is unable to survive outside of a pregnant person’s body at this stage of development. It’s considered an embryo until the ninth week.

5. D. There is no procedure that moves an ectopic pregnancy to the uterus. Ectopic pregnancies are considered non-viable and must be ended before the pregnant person faces serious health risks.

Why do legislators need to know this?

A recent Ohio bill aims to prohibit insurance coverage of abortion, with few exceptions –  including a non-existent procedure "that is intended to reimplant the fertilized ovum into the pregnant woman's uterus.

TWITTER: @TIMAREE_LEIGH

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