Roe v. Wade was just overturned, which means the power to decide its legality goes back to the states. The framing of Roe v. Wade, its origins, and the speed at which it was pushed through in 1972/73 were all things that even the late pro-choice Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not approve. Among the many issues Ginsburg had with Roe, was that the fact that it had nothing to do with the woman and everything to do with the physicians’ right to practice. Her most famous quote on the subject: “Doctrinal limbs too swiftly shaped, experience teaches, may prove unstable.”
Those words are resurfacing now, as some pro-abortionists are angry with Ginsburg for not having retired while former President Barack Obama was in office, so he could appoint a more pro-Roe justice. Ginsburg died in 2020 at 87 years old, during former President Donald Trump’s presidency, leaving Trump to appoint now justice Amy Coney Barrett, a pivotal figure in overturning the weak and rushed Roe v. Wade.
In light of all of this, there has been much lamenting, pandemonium, and fear-mongering among those who view abortion as a human right. From that, old arguments from the pro-abortion side have recurred; arguments that have been long since refuted, but somehow continue to rear their heads. Over the next few articles, I will list some of the biggest arguments made by pro-choicers, and how they are simply not true. Here is where we begin:
“Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, we’re going to see a dramatic increase in deaths caused by illegal abortions. Get ready for the coat-hangers.”
This lie is based on a few layers of lies told over decades. First, the claim is based on the even more false claim that 5,000 to 10,000 women died from illegal abortions before Roe v. Wade was passed in 1973. This false claim was made by an abortionist and industry insider named Bernard Nathanson, who later admitted that he had fabricated the numbers. And what a fabrication it was, because from 1930 to 1972, deaths from illegal abortion drastically decreased, from 2,700 deaths in 1930, to 267 deaths in 1957, to less than 60 in 1972.
Here are the statistics from the CDC found on the Live Action site:
1970 – By 1970, the CDC reported that in just a six-month period (July to December), out of 16 reported abortions in New York City, eight women — HALF — had died from legal (not illegal) procedures. In total, the 1970 report states that 25 women died in New York City (where abortion had been liberalized), and eleven of those were from illegal abortions. The report also noted that Black and Puerto Rican women suffered higher legal abortion mortality rates.
According to that CDC document, “although there was substitution of legal for illegal abortion deaths, no significant decrease in total abortion mortality occurred following institution of the new law.”
CDC Abortion Surveillance 1970
1972, year prior to Roe – In 1972, the year prior to national legalization, CDC reports revealed that deaths from illegal abortion were nothing close to the elusive 5,000 figure.
At the time the initial Abortion Surveillance report was published, CDC reported 51 deaths related to legal, illegal, and spontaneous abortions in 1973, and 71 in 1972. However, those reports were later updated, and the updated numbers can be found in this table from the CDC report (shown below):
Abortion deaths prior to Roe CDC
Deaths from illegal abortion:
- 1972 – 39
- 1973 – 19
Deaths from legal abortion:
- 1972 – 24
- 1973 – 25
Below is an image of the updated CDC abortion death table for years prior to Roe:
1975 – A 1975 report by National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, entitled, “Legalized Abortion and the Public Health: Report of a Study,” further dispels the lie that hundreds of thousands of women died from illegal abortion, writing in part, (emphasis added):
“It is difficult to find credible estimates of the number of deaths associated with illegal abortion. One estimate, which has been frequently quoted, is between 5,000 and 10,000 deaths per year. That is hardly plausible, considering that the total number of deaths of women aged 15-44 from all causes in the United States is approximately 50,000 annually, and the total number of deaths due to abortion reported by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has been below 500 since 1958 and below 100 since 1971.”
It is also very important to note that in addition to the significantly smaller number of deaths than was originally reported, more than half of those illegal abortions were performed by licensed physicians: “white knights” who felt it was their responsibility to provide this procedure to women in places where it wasn’t legal. No back alley-coat-hanger-DIY abortions there. The majority of them were performed by certified doctors, and women still died. And from the charts, we see that a few more women died from legal abortions than illegal the previous year.
All of this previously mentioned evidence would suggest that women are not dying because of the legality of abortions, but because of abortions themselves. This also dispels the notion that there is such a thing as a “safe abortion.” No abortion is “safe.” It is a very risky operation that can cause irreparable damage to a woman’s body, from incapability of having any more children to many other complications documented in this book.
So according to all the history we have before us, making abortions illegal will not cause more women to die from obtaining them illegally. And of course abortion will not be illegal in every state. The decision is simply going back to the states. There is a growing number of companies and celebrities who are willing to provide financial support for women who want to travel to a state where abortion is legalized.
But to keep the focus on the main point of this segment, there have been, and will continue to be, doctors willing to perform abortions. The truth is that abortions themselves are statistically not safe, and so women will continue to die and have other complications from getting them, no matter the legality. An honest person would engage in a discussion about that alone. But sadly, we do not live in an honest time.