Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Fear Mongering

If a pro-life Justice is voted in, California Sen. Barbara Boxer predicted, "A minimum of 5,000 women a year will die." [HT: WorldMagBlog]

Now I was no fan of Dan Quayle's, but the guy misspelled a word and the media mercilessly obssessed over this. Barbara Boxer is a senator from the nation's largest state, and I predict that this sort of wild, divorced-from-reality statement will hardly make a blip on the mainstream media map.

To review: The Centers for Disease Control reports that in 1972--the year prior to Roe v. Wade--39 women died from illegal abortion in 1972. Not 5,000-10,000 a year prior to Roe, as many abortion advocates claim. (Koonin L.M., Smith, J.C., Ramick, M., and Lawson H.W. (1992). Abortion Surveillance, United States, 1989. CDC Surveillance Summaries, September 4, 1992. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 41:33.)

Further, consider this quote from Mary S. Calderone's article, “Illegal Abortion as a Public Health Problem,” American Journal of Public Health 50 (July 1960) 948-54. Thirteen years pre-Roe, she wrote:

“Fact No. 3—Abortion is no longer a dangerous procedure. This applies not just to therapeutic abortions as performed in hospitals but also to so-called illegal abortions as done by physicians. In 1957 there were only 260 deaths in the whole country attributed to abortions of any kind. In New York City in 1921 there were 144 abortion deaths, in 1951 there were only 15; and, while the abortion death rate was going down so strikingly in that 30 year period, we know what happened to the population and the birth rate. Two corollary factors must be mentioned here: first, chemotherapy and antibiotics have come in, benefiting all surgical procedures as well as abortion. Second, and even more important, the conference estimated that 90 per cent of all illegal abortions are presently being done by physicians. Call them what you will, abortionists or anything else, they are still physicians, trained as such; and many of them are in good standing in their communities. They must do a pretty good job if the death rate is as low as it is. Whatever trouble arises usually comes after self-induced abortions, which comprise approximately 8 percent, or with the very small percentage that go to some kind of non-medical abortionist. Another corollary fact: physicians of impeccable standing are referring their patients for these illegal abortions to the colleagues whom they know are willing to perform them, or they are sending their patients to certain sources outside of this country where abortion is performed under excellent medical conditions. The acceptance of these facts was such that one outstanding gynecologist at the conference declared: “From the ethical standpoint, I see no difference between recommending an abortion and performing it. The moral responsibility is equal.” So remember fact number three; abortion, whether therapeutic or illegal, is in the main no longer dangerous, because it is being done well by physicians.”

Again, see Scott Klusendorf's post for more information and for an informed response.