Contradicting research by her own organization, Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen claimed thousands of women died every year from botched abortions prior to Roe v. Wade.
Wen, who recently stopped in Texas to lobby for abortion on demand, spoke with WFAA about the future of abortion in America and her work at Planned Parenthood.
“I am deeply concerned about the future of Roe versus Wade,” Wen told the news outlet.
She pointed to the pro-life laws being passed in states across the country and President Donald Trump’s conservative nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court as reasons for her worries.
Abortions became legal for basically any reason up to birth when the high court ruled on Roe v. Wade in 1973. Since then, many states have tried to restore rights to unborn babies but have been crippled by the case and liberal Supreme Court justices.
Wen wants it to stay that way.
“We face a real situation where Roe could be overturned and if it is overturned then one in three women over reproductive age, which is 25 million women, could be living in states including Texas where they do not have the right to safe, legal abortion and we know what will happen,” Wen said.
“Women will die. Thousands of women died every year pre-Roe,” she continued.
It is a common talking point of abortion activists, but it is not true – by their own accounts.
In 1960, Dr. Mary Calderone, the medical director of Planned Parenthood, wrote in the American Journal of Public Health:
“… about 90 percent of all illegal abortions are presently being done by physicians…Whatever trouble arises usually arises from self-induced abortions, which comprise approximately 8 percent, or with the very small percentage that go to some kind of non-medical abortionist…So remember…abortion, whether therapeutic or illegal, is in the main no longer dangerous, because it is being done well by physicians.”
Government statistic prior to Roe confirm Calderone’s statements. A 1972 Center for Disease Control report noted the maternal death rate from abortions was 39 in the United States, the year prior to Roe.
Some abortion supporters now admit abortions are not unsafe for women, either. Research professors at Santa Clara University and the University of Texas acknowledged in a 2018 study that fewer women are dying from abortions even in countries where abortions are illegal. They basically confirmed what pro-lifers have been saying for years, that modern medical advances — not Roe v. Wade – were what really led to a drop in maternal abortion deaths.
While women’s deaths from abortion are rare, they still occur where abortion is legal. As of 2008, the CDC reported more than 400 women died from legal abortions in the United States, including 12 that year. The most recent annual report from the CDC says four women died from abortion complications in 2013.
Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a former abortionist and co-founder of NARAL, exposed the agenda behind the false talking point after he became pro-life later in life. NARAL often claimed between 5,000 and 10,000 women died every year from dangerous, back alley abortions prior to 1973.
He later wrote: “I confess that I knew that the figures were totally false and I suppose that others did too if they stopped to think of it. But in the ‘morality’ of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted … The overriding concern was to get the laws eliminated, and anything within reason that had to be done was permissible.”
It continues to be a useful figure today for abortion activists like Wen, who use it to claim that efforts to protect unborn babies amount to the “biggest public health crisis of our time.”