Abortion Activist Admits: “When Abortion Is Illegal, Women Rarely Die”

Opinion   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Oct 11, 2018   |   2:55PM   |   Washington, DC

Two pro-abortion research professors admitted in a roundabout way what pro-life advocates have been saying for years about the supposed dangers of illegal abortions.

Abortion activists commonly claim that abortions must be legal and easily accessible, or women will die from dangerous back alley or do-it-yourself abortions. However, pro-lifers have disputed this with statistics and other research indicating that modern medical advances — not Roe v. Wade – were what really led to a drop in maternal deaths.

Two research professors at Santa Clara University and the University of Texas basically told The Atlantic the same thing in an article published this week.

Though the report argues women still suffer when abortions are illegal, it acknowledged fewer women are dying from abortions even in countries where abortions are illegal.

According to the report:

[A]bortion-related deaths are much less common than they were a few decades ago, especially in countries with functional health-care systems. Since the early ’90s, abortion fatalities have declined by 42 percent globally. This is despite the fact that about 45 percent of all the abortions in the world are still performed in “unsafe” circumstances—meaning without the help of a trained professional or with an outdated medical method. Unsafe abortions are more common in countries where the practice is illegal.

Michelle Oberman, a Santa Clara University law professor, said she was surprised when she began doing research on abortion in El Salvador. Abortions are illegal there, and she said she expected to find hospitals full of women dying from botched abortions, but she did not.

According to Oberman’s research, better medical care, along with an increased availability of abortion drugs online, are leading to fewer maternal abortion deaths.

The report continues:

The drug combination has made it so that in Brazil alone, since 1992, the treatment rate for severe complications from abortion has declined by 76 percent. In Latin America overall, the rate of complications from abortions declined by a third since 2005. Meanwhile, the rate of abortions there has only increased. …

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According to Oberman, those who do die from abortion-related causes in the country fall into roughly three categories … First, some doctors refuse to treat pregnant women with chemotherapy or other potent medications because they are worried they might harm the fetus. Second, some doctors allow ectopic pregnancies—in which a fertilized egg grows outside the womb and can’t survive to birth—to continue until the woman’s fallopian tube explodes, because they fear that eggs in even ectopic pregnancies will be considered living beings under the law. In the third category are teenage girls who kill themselves because they are distraught over their pregnancies. These teenage deaths account for three-eighths of all maternal deaths in El Salvador.

Notably, however, the first two reasons are not the fault of pro-life laws but misunderstanding of doctors. Pro-life advocates believe every human life is valuable, including the mother’s and her unborn child’s. They recognize that there are some very rare, difficult circumstances in which doctors are not able to save both lives. In cases such as cancer or an ectopic pregnancy, pro-lifers acknowledge that doctors can and should take action to try to save the mother’s life, even if her unborn child may die. These tragic situations involve doctors trying to save lives, not destroy them, but sometimes only one life can be saved. In contrast, abortions are wrong because they intentionally destroy a human life.

The report continues with Abigail Aiken, a professor of health policy at the University of Texas, who noted that women were not dying of abortions in Ireland either when it had pro-life laws. In fact, a 2013 study found that Ireland’s maternal mortality rates were significantly lower than neighboring countries where abortions were legal and widely available.

With this common justification for pro-abortion laws gone, The Atlantic asked the researchers, “Given the relative rarity of deaths—and even complications—from self-induced abortion, one might wonder, why worry that the U.S. Supreme Court might restrict the procedure?”

Aiken responded that abortion drugs are not commonly available by mail order in the U.S., and women in Ireland who mail-ordered abortion drugs did not like taking them alone at home.

“Although the abortion itself is acceptable, they were terrified,” she said. “They were isolated; they felt like they couldn’t tell anyone. They had to lie to doctors when they did see them, [and] say they had a miscarriage.”

Is emotional discomfort enough to justify the legalized killing of unborn babies for basically any reason up to birth, which is what Roe did? Polls indicate most Americans don’t think so.

More and more pro-abortion arguments are falling apart as people learn the truth about abortion on demand. And hopefully one day Roe v. Wade will, too.