Abortion Current Events Ink Slingers Misty Pro-Life Issues Respect Life

Why Illegal Abortion Was Actually Safer for Women

This past week, Texas made history by banning abortions after 20 weeks gestation. Planned Parenthood and other abortion supporters attempted to stymie the passage of House Bill 2 (HB2) by their usual claim that any restrictions on abortion is tantamount to reversing Roe v. Wade. And we all know what will happen then:

Desperate women will be forced to resort to dangerous, do-it-yourself abortions or untrained, back-alley abortionists. Women will die by the tens of thousands, just as they did prior to Roe v. Wade. Legal abortion safeguards women’s health by giving them access to trained professionals who can end their pregnancies safely.

Naturally, as soon as the Texas bill passed, social media outlets were ringing with similar predictions. These were our friends, family members, neighbors, and coworkers passionately arguing that the only way to keep women from being maimed and killed en masse is to keep abortion legal…legal with no restrictions. I believe it’s this deeply-ingrained belief that causes many people who otherwise find abortion morally abhorrent to support it as a necessary evil.

But facts, as John Adams once said, are stubborn things. On May 21, 2005, Dr. Gunta Lazdane, European Regional Advisor to the World Health Organization on Reproductive Health and Research, told attendees at a conference on population that “up to 20 percent of maternal deaths are due to abortion, even in those situations where abortion is legal…there is a question whether legal abortion is safe.”

Yes, you read that right: Up to one in five pregnant women who die is killed by an abortion--even in countries like ours, where abortion is legal.

* * *

Abortion rights advocates have promoted the “legal equals safe” myth from the beginning, claiming that illegal abortion claimed the lives of 10,000 women per year prior to Roe v. Wade. This is most succinctly represented at pro-choice demonstrations by the “No Coathangers” sign like the one to the right.

But as former abortionist and NARAL founder Bernard Nathanson admitted in his autobiography The Hand of God, he and other abortion advocates literally fabricated the statistics about illegal abortion’s death toll. Then they’d watch gleefully as sympathetic journalists quoted their made-up figures as gospel truth.

Of course, the stubborn facts tell a dramatically different story about illegal abortion. The American Medical Association reported that the actual number of abortion-related deaths in 1950 was 263 and even those figures were dropping, with 119 deaths in 1970.(1) Even Planned Parenthood’s research lapdog, the Alan Guttmacher Institute, published stats that abortion deaths fell from around 200 in 1965 to 110 in 1967.(2) The Centers for Disease Control confirmed these trends; its records show that beginning in 1940, the death rate from illegal abortion was falling faster than the overall maternal death rate.(3) The stunning thing is that before abortion was legal, it was actually safer to have an illegal abortion than to give birth.

Why so few deaths from illegal abortion? First, because women viewed criminal abortion as unseemly and dangerous, they were less likely to be promiscuous in the first place. Sexually-active women also were more likely to use contraception diligently. In other words, there was incentive to avoid pregnancy.

Today, more than 40 percent of all abortions are repeat abortions, says Planned Parenthood, proving (despite abortion advocates’ claims) that widespread availability of abortion and contraception has not made people more sexually responsible. If anything, it has made them more careless and promiscuous. This attitude was captured perfectly in a 1977 article published by The Population Council, where the author quoted one source’s reasons for not using contraception:

It’s embarrassing to ask him to get out of bed and get a condom…I probably won’t get pregnant because the doctor says I have a tipped uterus, but if I get pregnant he will probably marry me. Or worst coming to worse, I can always get an abortion.(4)

Second, abortion advocates’ insistence that “illegal abortion means a dirty table and a coat hanger” simply isn’t true. Studies show that prior to Roe v. Wade, licensed physicians performed the majority of illegal abortions. One study showed that 89 percent of abortions prior to 1973 were performed by a physician, with another 5 percent performed by a nurse or other medically-trained personnel.(5)

What does this tell us, if illegal abortion wasn’t anywhere near as dangerous as abortion advocates claim? It confirms that their real priority has always been unrestricted legality, NOT safety for women.

In 1989, the Miami Herald ran a story about a local abortion clinic whose conditions were heinous. The clinic was run by a woman with a lengthy police record, whose brother (a clinic assistant) actually ended up in prison as an ax murderer. One of the clinic abortionists had lost his medical license in another state after having sex with a 14-year-old. After one woman died and another was maimed, the Herald ran a story on the clinic, which forced abortion advocates to respond. They admitted to knowing about the clinic’s conditions, but said they’d remained silent for political reasons. According to pro-choice advocate Janis Compton-Carr, “In my gut, I am completely aghast at what goes on at that place. But I staunchly oppose anything that would correct this situation in law.”(6)

Compton-Carr was simply expressing what abortion advocates have always meant by “safe and legal”: Safe if possible, but legal regardless. If you think this isn’t still happening, just look at the women butchered and maimed recently by abortionist Kermitt Gosnell in Philadelphia. After Gosnell was indicted, district attorney Seth Williams confirmed that state regulators had ignored complaints about Gosnell’s clinic for nearly 20 years. And if you think these two clinics are anomalies, I dare you to Google “died from abortion” and watch the headlines stack up. Like the 29-year-old New York schoolteacher who just died of an abortion one week ago.

Saline Abortion as Proof

Perhaps the most classic example of abortion advocates being willing to sacrifice women on the altar of abortion rights is the saline abortion controversy. Developed in Romania in 1939, the saline abortion technique was adopted by the Japanese after World War II and used almost exclusively. By 1969, however, so many women had died from it that the Japanese Obstetrical and Gynecological Society declared the method too hazardous and abandoned it.(7)

Western abortion providers, however, enthusiastically embraced saline abortion, despite repeated warnings from Japanese medical professionals.(8) Japan’s problems were caused by untrained personnel working in unsanitary facilities, they claimed, ignoring the fact that Japan’s abortion-related deaths dropped dramatically when its abortionists abandoned the saline technique.

Over the next decade, European abortion providers reluctantly began admitting the Japanese were right. By 1970, so many women had died from saline abortion complications that virtually every European abortionist had abandoned the technique. Yet American abortionists stubbornly resisted, despite a damning report by the American Medical Association that stated that, “Saline amniocentesis abortion has the highest fatality rate of any elective surgical technique, second only to cardiac transplantation.”(9) In other words, it was only nominally riskier to have a heart transplant to have a saline abortion! Not surprisingly, it took the CDC another decade to admit that saline abortions were killing and maiming American women.(10)

Despite overwhelming evidence that saline abortions were often fatal for women, the U.S. abortion industry continued to promote it as a safe technique. In two books published by U.S. abortionists in the early 1990s, authors William Hern and Don Sloan describe how to perform the technique, which Sloan described as “biochemically simple, sound, and effective.” Why would these abortionists cling so stubbornly to a technique they knew was dangerous? Because as Sloan acknowledged in his book, the saline abortion technique “has a distinct advantage for the abortionist, who doesn’t have to be around when the fetus, macerated and lifeless, is expelled.”

Abortion Rights at all Costs—Even Women

While it was extraordinary that a WHO officially even admitted that one in five pregnant women who die have their lives ended by legal abortion, Dr. Lazdane’s report didn’t address the percentage of women who are “merely” maimed from abortion. Common sense tells us that if 20 percent of pregnant women are dying from abortion, there no doubt just as many if not more women suffering non-fatal injuries.

In Lime 5, author Mark Crutcher details how Life Dynamics Inc., a pro-life organization, went undercover as a pro-choice group in the early 1990s to obtain information about the abortion industry. The group discovered that shockingly high numbers of women were indeed suffering horrendous injuries during legal abortion procedures.(11) Crutcher cites hundreds of public records to show that women obtaining abortions in the United States routinely suffer minor to severe injuries to the uterus, cervix, intestines, and urinary tract. A significant number also are hospitalized because abortionists perform incomplete abortions, leaving fetal tissue in the uterus that later causes infection and hemorrhaging. In many cases, the injuries to the women cited in Lime 5 were so severe that they died within hours or days of the abortion. Those more fortunate only required hysterectomies or a colostomy bag. Again, these are public records, not Lifesite News stories.

Why haven’t you heard about this epidemic of abortion-related injuries? Because for one, doctors aren’t interested in documenting these injuries. And on those rare occasions when they do, our pro-abortion media isn’t interested in sharing it with the public, lest the public begin to realize that legal abortion is not safe abortion. When 24-year-old Tonya Reaves died last year from an abortion, the best one Chicago newspaper could come up with is to remind readers that “Abortion carries risks.”

I personally saw witnessed the “don’t ask/don’t tell about your botched abortion” three years ago, when I sought medical attention for severe postpartum bleeding. During the three-hour examination, not one of the three medical persons (two nurses and a doctor) asked if I’d recently obtained an abortion. I was five months postpartum, so it was certainly possible.

I had shown up at the emergency room with severe vaginal bleeding, yet it was a foregone conclusion that it wasn’t related to an abortion. What if I’d had an abortion, but was too embarrassed to volunteer that to the ER staff? I can’t imagine many women in that situation admitting to an abortion without some prompting, but the question was never even asked. If I had been suffering complications from an abortion, it would never have been reported to the CDC as such. (As usual, I was offered the Pill and sent home, with no actual attempt to determine the underlying cause of the bleeding.) I have no doubt that abortion-related injuries and deaths are severely under-reported, when medical personnel aren’t even willing to fully investigate their female patients’ reproductive histories. God forbid we find evidence that “abortion has risks.”

So why was it safer to have an illegal abortion? Simple: back when abortion was illegal, physicians who performed abortions had serious incentive to perform them safely. If a woman was injured or killed, the doctor faced criminal charges. Today, however, abortion is almost completely unregulated. As the Gosnell case showed, abortion clinics are often allowed to run without any oversight. Yet as we also saw in Texas, any attempt to hold abortion clinics to even the most basic medical standards is met with staunch resistance from the pro-choice crowd. I still remember being shocked to read that abortion facilities in my home state of Virginia were finally required by law to meet the same safety standards as other freestanding medical clinics–legislation that only passed in 2011. We women should ask ourselves why the doctor removing our tonsils at the outpatient clinic has to meet higher safety standards than the doctor removing a child from our womb.

The truth is, pregnant women were NOT dying in droves prior to Roe v. Wade or being butchered by the thousands, but they are now. The facts are indeed stubborn, because they prove that legal does in no way equal safe when it comes to abortion.


  1. Council on Scientific Affairs, American Medical Association. “Induced Termination of Pregnancy Before and After Roe v. Wade: Trends in the Mortality and Morbidity or Women,” Journal of the American Medical Association,12/9/92.
  2. “Abortion Providers Share Inner Conflicts,” The American Medical News,7/12/93.
  3. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: CDC Surveillance Summaries,United States 1989, Issued 1992.
  4. Kristin Luker, “Contraception Risk Taking and Abortion,” Studies in Family Planning, August 1977.
  5. Nancy Howell Lee, The Search for an Abortionist, University ofChicago Press, 1972.
  6. The Miami Herald,9/17/89.
  7. Yukio Manabe, MD, “Artificial Abortion at Midpregnancy by Mechanical Stimulation of the Uterus,” American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology,9/1/69.
  8. Yukio Manabe, MD, “Danger of Hypertonic-Saline-Induced Abortion,” Journal of the American Medical Association,12/15/69.
  9. Norman R. Kaplan, MD, “Hazard of Saline Abortion: letter,” Journal of the American Medical Association,7/3/72.
  10. Richard M. Selik, MD, Willard Cates, Jr., MD; Carl W. Tyler, Jr., MD. “Behavioral Factors Contributing to Abortion Deaths: A New Approach to Mortality Studies,” Obstetrics and Gynecology, November 1981.
  11. Mark Crutcher. Lime 5. Life Dynamics Inc.Denton:Texas, 1996.






Abortion BirgitJ Current Events Ink Slingers Pro-Life Issues Respect Life

Gosnell Found Guilty – Now What?

Now is a good time to take a cleansing breath and focus on the impact the Gosnell verdict will have on the pro-life movement. As we are leaping in joy for a conviction, we must keep our wits about us and realize that the same babies, if killed by lethal injection within the womb, would have been legally aborted in clinics all over the country. They still are and will continue to be. The Gosnell saga is just the tip of the horrendous iceberg called ‘choice’ and this one victory should not lull us into complacency. As Rep. Chris Smith aptly phrased it,

“Some abortionists may have cleaner sheets than Gosnell, and better sterilized equipment and better trained accomplices, but what they do – what Gosnell did – kill babies and hurt women – is the same.”

Yes, this one monster has been found guilty of some of the horrific charges against him (3* counts of first degree murder for babies and 1 count of involuntary manslaughter for the woman killed via overdose), but there are many others out there doing exactly the same thing.

Much as Al Capone was brought down by tax evasion charges instead of his criminal activity as a mobster, Gosnell was brought down by a drug related raid. What the authorities found, shocked even seasoned law enforcement. No one in authority had cared about what he had been doing to women and babies in the 15 years since the last inspection of his ‘house of horrors’. They didn’t care that he experimented on unwitting poor women, maiming several of them in what is termed the Mothers Day Massacre. Just like they didn’t care that, across this country, dozens of clinics just like his operate without question every day. No one cared that Planned Parenthood referred women to Gosnell because they couldn’t stomach (or perhaps get away with) late term abortions in such huge numbers and scandalous conditions.

Gosnell chargesWhere is the outcry for all of the numerous women, all over the country, who suffered death at the hands of these butchers legally plying their murderous procedures described simply as medical ‘treatment’? What we have been handed is a gift wrapped opportunity to take the ball and run with it. The Gosnell trial finally gave pro-life advocates a more public voice and forced even the meekest network to at least marginally offer coverage. That a liberal news analyst, Kirsten Powers, deserves our deepest gratitude for finally breaking the story wide open and that Fox News offered some decent coverage would have been highly unlikely just a few weeks ago. Now the proverbial cat is out of the bag and, to mix my metaphors, we must make hay while the sun does shine! Nineteen brave Congressmen who spoke on the House floor,  “See No Evil” (an outstanding Fox News documentary), some other media coverage, #Gosnell Tweetfests, blogging and marathon postings on Facebook have gone a long way in educating more and more people. How shocking, disheartening and surprising to find that there are still many, many good citizens out there who are oblivious to this scandalous affair! When our priest asked for a show of hands of those who knew of Gosnell, only 20% or so of the congregation responded with raised hands.

So, on the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima, we have been granted a wonderful chance to witness for Life. Coupled with the surprise visit of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, in support of tens of thousands of pro-life faithful at the March for Life in Rome yesterday (Mothers Day), we have been blessed with an impressive beginning to the rest of the pro-life journey. What happens next is up to the collective us. Will we rest on our laurels in this partially won victory or will we let this be the catalyst to finally find our voice – a voice of righteous anger and outrage for the atrocities visited upon the innocent, left in our charge by God Almighty? A foot is in the door, so let’s fling it open and throw ourselves into the task of gaining momentum. Let us pray harder, speak louder, love more, and gird up for the ensuing battle. Now is not the time to turn away in horror – not wanting any more reminders. Satan, Planned Parenthood, and liberal media were forced to give us our day in the sun but make no mistake, they will be back with the fury of hell. Let’s be ready. Let’s rise to the occasion. And with God at our side, let’s forever end the most unspeakable act of killing the innocents at the altar of convenience!

*Read about the baby that Gosnell was not convicted of killing here.

PS. As a Catholic believer in the unfathomable mercy of God, my hope is that Gosnell is kept in prison for the rest of his natural life. May he find true remorse and forgiveness. 

Abortion Current Events Ink Slingers Misty Pro-Life Issues Respect Life

Has Abortion Lived Up to Its Promises?

In less than two weeks, our nation will mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion-on-demand the law of the land. The milestone is causing many on both sides of the aisle to take a closer look at our changing political landscape and ask, “Does legal abortion have a future in America?”

As a recent article in Time magazine pointed out, ultrasound technology and medical advances have steadily chipped away at the public’s support of abortion, because the humanity of the unborn child has become increasingly undeniable. And while that’s good news, there’s still a barrier pro-life advocates haven’t seemed able to overcome, a reason people cite for keeping abortion legal that for many, trumps even the moral responsibility to protect innocent human life. And that’s the belief that abortion offers a pragmatic solution to our worst societal scourges.

Abortion may be evil, admit the honest pro-choicers, but it’s a necessary evil. We need it if we’re to keep other serious problems in check. Even before Roe v. Wade, abortion advocates have insisted that widespread access to abortion will mean “every child a wanted child,” which will reduce child abuse. Abortion will reduce crime, too, since those unwanted and impoverished children who often grow into criminals will never be born. It will also protect vulnerable women from being butchered by untrained abortionists cashing in on their desperation. Widespread abortion, we were promised, would lead to stronger women, stronger families, and a stronger society.

So has abortion lived up to its promises? The answer is a resounding “no.”

With nearly 50 million “unwanted” children eliminated via abortion since 1973, we should have seen child abuse plummet. But that’s not what has happened. In 2005, nearly a million children were victims of abuse and neglect, with experts estimating that three times that amount were actually abused. Almost 1,500 children died of their injuries that year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which reports that all types of child abuse have increased since 1980. For some reason, the plan to reduce crime by eliminating the potential victims just didn’t pan out.

Nor have we seen any positive impact on crime in general because of abortion. Interestingly, “progressive” states that legalized abortion prior to Roe v. Wade experienced consistently higher homicide rates nearly every year between 1976 and 1998, according to Yale University law professor John Lott and Australian economist John Whitley. Lott and Whitney found that legalizing abortion actually increased state murder rates by up to 7 percent. It seems that the plan to reduce crime by eliminating the potential perpetrators floundered, too.

And what about the women whose lives would be dramatically improved by abortion? How have they fared?

Contrary to the claims that thousands of women were dying from illegal abortion prior to Roe v. Wade, the American Medical Association reports that the figure for 1950 was actually 263, and that those numbers were even dropping, with 119 abortion-related deaths in 1970. Regardless, legal abortion was supposed to virtually eliminate the chance that a woman would be injured or killed during an abortion.

Today, however, providers who had great incentive to perform a medically competent abortion prior to Roe v. Wade now practice in medicine’s most unregulated specialty. In the book Lime 5, pro-life group Life Dynamics reported on the thousands of public records proving women are injured and killed every year by abortion. Just this week, the organization published controversial autopsy photos of a young woman who died during a botched abortion in a Pennsylvania clinic. Perhaps the most recent example of women being sacrificed to the altar of abortion rights is the case of abortionist Kermitt Gosnell, who was indicted in 2011 for some of the most egregious medical conduct imaginable…including the gruesome murders of at least eight babies born alive during attempted abortions in his Philadelphia clinic. We shouldn’t be surprised then, that a regional advisor to the World Health Organization admitted in 2005 that “up to 20 percent of maternal deaths are due to abortion, even in those situations where abortion is legal.”

It’s clear legalizing abortion has actually increased the risk to women’s health. As Gosnell discovered, even the most incompetent abortionist can count on abortion advocates to cover up the carnage they visit on unsuspecting women, who have been assured that abortion is safe because it’s legal. Case in point: former pro-choice governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Ridge (R), ended regular inspections of abortion clinics in that state during his administration. Which meant that for nearly two decades, Gosnell’s house of horrors was allowed to operate unchecked, with warnings from patients, doctors, and public health employees repeatedly ignored.

Not that Pennsylvania is unique; many (most?) states have turned a blind eye to the abortion industry in the interest of protecting abortion access at all costs. My home state, Virginia, just passed legislation a few years ago finally requiring abortion clinics to meet the same medical standards as other free-standing clinics. In any other area of medicine, this lack of government oversight would instantly be considered unsafe and unacceptable, yet we’re willing to expose women seeking abortions to this kind of substandard medical care. Abortion advocates need to just say what they really mean: safe if possible, but legal regardless.

Not surprisingly, then, “complications following abortions performed in free-standing clinics is one of the most frequent gynecologic emergencies…encountered,” according to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association in February 1983. Twenty years later, nothing has improved, as the 2005 WHO report showed. Few people realize that even in the United States, legal abortion is actually the fifth leading cause of death for pregnant women. Far from protecting women, legal abortion is instead maiming and killing us–with impunity.


But abortion gives women control over their fertility and that’s empowering, abortion advocates insist. Yet for a choice that’s supposed to be so beneficial, it’s strange so many post-abortive women find the experience anything but positive. Countless studies show that women who abort have an increased incidence of depression, anxiety, and suicide. They’re at a greater risk for substance abuse, and often engage in years of uncharacteristically self-destructive behavior after their abortions. Many of these women, who were once pro-choice, are now speaking out against abortion. It seems that this “empowering” experience really leaves the vast majority of women feeling powerless, abandoned, and violated.

For 40 years, we’ve been told keeping abortion legal is both the practical and the compassionate choice for America. We were promised it would reduce problems such as child abuse and crime, that it would empower women and keep them safe from unscrupulous and greedy medical butchers. Abortion must remain legal, we’ve been told, because there are just so many practical benefits to be gained. Yet as the evidence clearly shows, abortion’s promises are as empty today as they were before Roe v. Wade. The practical, personal, and societal benefits of legal abortion never have and never will materialize, because a poisonous tree can’t bear good fruit. The social experiment called “legal abortion” is an abysmal failure. Let’s pray, sisters, that it doesn’t take our nation another four decades to rectify this costly mistake.