Senator Claims 5,000 Women Will Die if Abortion Overturned

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 5, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senator Claims 5,000 Women Will Die if Abortion Overturned Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 5, 2005

Washington, DC ( — A leading abortion advocate in the Senate has shocked political observers with a claim that thousands of women will die each year in the United States if the Supreme Court overturns the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

In an interview with the Associated Press, California Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, responded to a question about whether Senate Democrats will use a filibuster to block President Bush’s expected Supreme Court nominee and what kind of impact on abortion a pro-life judicial pick would have.

"It means a minimum of 5,000 women a year will die. So all options are on the table," she said.

Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life, says Boxer’s claim ignores the fact that abortion deaths still occur, despite abortion’s legal status.

"Wild, unsubstantiated numbers and fear mongering won’t help women. Right now women die from legal and lethal abortion," she told "Was Sen. Boxer equally concerned about Holly Paterson’s death from RU-486?"

Though other abortion advocates have made similar claims, one former director of a national group backing abortion has said the numbers were invented.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League, admits his group lied about the number of women who died from illegal abortions when testifying before the Supreme Court in 1972.

"We spoke of 5,000 – 10,000 deaths a year," he said. "I confess that I knew the figures were totally false [but] it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics?"

Official governmental numbers don’t substantiate Boxer’s figures.

The National Center for Heath Statistics reveals that, before 1941, in the days before penicillin became available to control infections, there were over 1,400 abortion-related deaths. Following its introduction, the number of deaths was reduced in the 1950s to about 250 per year.

By 1966, with abortion still illegal in all states, the number of deaths had dropped steadily to 120 thanks to new and better antibiotics, better surgery, and the establishment of intensive care units in hospitals.

By the time of Roe v. Wade in 1972, the death rate for illegal abortions had fallen to just twenty-four. Though abortion was legal in 1973, abortion deaths rose to 25 and they rose to 26 in 1974 and 29 in 1975.

Boxer told the Associated Press that pro-abortion Justice Sanda Day O’Connor’s retirement was a step backwards for women.

"She has been a powerful voice for moderation," Boxer said. "This is a philosophy her successor should embrace … We cannot go back to the dark days. Roe must remain the law of the land."

Regardless of the numbers, Foster tells that all abortion fails women.

"We need our elected leaders to help solve the problems women face — housing, child care, maternity leave, financial support, telecommuting options in school and the workplace, adoption options," Foster concluded. "Legal or illegal, abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women."

Related web sites:
Feminists for Life –