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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.






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EYEWITNESS Accounts from The Capitol in Austin: The Night SB1 Passed

As I wrap up posts on the events that happened during the second session at the Capitol, I wanted to leave you with stories and videos shared by friends and acquaintances, some of whom were with the group who went with me that I wrote about in my previous post. Though the first post is incredibly long, I have broken it up with video between posts. Personal testimony paints a vivid picture of what happened. I hope you enjoy these accounts, one of which will be featured later today.

The following is one woman’s account of her experience in the gallery when protestors disrupted the gallery by chaining themselves to the railing. If you’ll recall from my previous post, this was the incident that the trooper with the bolt cutters in our elevator was rushing to get to.

She writes: A Catholic priest standing in front of me in line was grabbed from behind, while praying the rosary, by a washed up hippie woman who tried to pull him backwards and started cussing him out. I went and got two DPS officers and they talked to her. She behaved until they had to leave because of something going down in another area. Then she started making strange sounds every time she’d look at the priest, shake her head and say a few more cuss words. We had a woman putting a vulgar sign with a vagina on it in our faces (including my 14 year old daughter, six year old daughter, nine and 11 year old sons). Several of the orange shirts tried to scream in our faces, but DPS was right on that! In the circle outside the chambers, the orange shirts were screaming/howling/chanting all day/night. There was a small group of blue in the center holding signs and staying silent. The orange tried to hold up a giant banner that said: “my body, my choice” that would have covered the circle…

::below is video of the protestors attempting to cover the small

circle of pro-lifers praying in the middle of the rotunda::

…but the blues held up their arms and blocked them (LOL). The orange then tried to push/grab them and DPS jumped in and stopped them. Later on, my 14 year old daughter saw several activists putting feces in a bottle in the bathroom and mix with water. The plan was to dump it on the senators but DPS was tipped off and took the bottles. Here is some other information that I think needs to be investigated. Several activist were able to get into the chamber with bicycle chains and chain themselves to the railing, we all had to go through metal detectors and have our bags x-rayed just to get into the building HOW did they get that through? It makes me wonder if they had help either from a senate staff member or a senator. So, we think these activists were from California because they were sitting next to my 14 year daughter before the incident, and were talking about living in CA and going to school there. What they did: two of them rushed the railing and used the bike chains to chain themselves. Two men in dresses and adult diapers stood up and tried to stop the cops from getting to the chained women. One of the chained women had a trash sack filled with a red colored liquid and tried to dump it onto the senators below (they also threatened to jump off the balcony). However, these people learned you don’t mess with Texas, y’all! Our DPS officers had bolt cutters and quickly carried them out. These men had white dresses on smeared with blood and my poor daughter and another teen girl in blue beside her had a terrible view of this. When the police lifted these men up by the arms and legs, their dresses went up and their legs were open. These men had adult diapers on and had smeared fake blood all over their crotch. It made my daughter and this other teen girl sick and they had to turn away. The police had to shove my daughter out of the way to get to these chained women but they apologized to her when they did it and said they had to get there fast (how cool is that?). Let me clarify, I was sitting across from this; I saw it go down, but my daughter was beside them because there weren’t any open seats to seat us all together. I actually said “what the hell” louder than I should have but it slipped out, I’m not proud of it, but it startled me. I think the trash sack was smuggled inside one of adult diapers because our bags were thoroughly searched and all food/drink were taken including cough drops and tampons. This was a coordinated event because several people in orange throughout the chamber got out their phones and started filming seconds before this went down. Each time right BEFORE a woman would stand up and start singing “all we are saying is give us a choice” those same phones would go up and start recording. We also heard a gun had been brought in as well but the police found it.

I have to say, most of the people in orange were polite and courteous with us. They shared water/snacks, offered jackets to my six year old daughter when she got cold. I saw quite a few orange shirts that said “revolution nothing less” and others had a uterus/Fallopian tubes and “come and take them” on them. See, this whole “choice” thing all comes down to casual sex and sex outside marriage. They have made it about genitilia, the parts needed for conception, but not the baby that results. ~Amy, Waxahachie, TX

Here is another account by a friend who went with me on Friday evening.

Last night I went to the capital.  That sounds simple, right?  Sadly, that doesn’t really capture what happened last night in Austin.  I think it would be more fitting to say I visited the third ring of hell or I was in a warzone.  I seriously think I need to make a T-shirt that says “I survived HB 2”.   I knew the groups of pro aborts were going in with the intent to be disruptive, disrespectful, and angry.  I might add they succeeded on all counts.  So why go?  Why knowingly walk into the wolves den?  Let me just say, I am not trying to be a martyr here. I believe every life conceived is worth protecting.  Every life.  So what’s a gal to do?  She partners up with some awesome folks from her parish and she goes to the capital. I was nervous all day with all the reports coming out of Austin and on social media; feces and urine being confiscated, people planning to flash the senate, talks of throwing blood and feminine products. Who makes this stuff up?!  We didn’t know if they were just trying to scare us into not showing up or if this was really going to happen.  Then I got to my parish.  Peace began to replace the fear.  The more friends that showed up, the more my peace grew. In popped a dear friend who announced to us that even though she could not join us, she was coming to pray before the Blessed Sacrament for us.  I could feel God’s hand now.   I knew I wanted……no, needed our priest to pray over us before we left.  A priest with the Legionaries of Christ who had just wrapped a boys camp my sons attended was about to leave to head home as our associate pastor finished up his day. They both agreed to pray over us and bless us. That’s when you know you are doing what God has called you to do; when all the pieces fall into place.   I could feel God’s armor being placed on us.  We loaded up the van and headed to Austin. As we approached the capital grounds, it was apparent we would be outnumbered.  No big deal.  We knew that going in.  We knew many pro-life supporters were focusing on getting into the senate gallery to watch the debate and see this bill pass.  You could hear the screaming once the doors opened. We quickly ran into familiar faces who gave us the low down and what has happened so far.  There was a small group of pro-life supporters who were completely and overwhelming encircled by a screaming, angry pro-abortion mob.  I use the word mob not to be disrespectful but to articulate how it felt, what it looked like.  In short, the scene was crazy. Frankly, I think I am being gracious by saying it was a mob. It was decided they needed us in there to pray for them so in we went.  We first stood on the outside of the circle.

::video of walking into the circle::

I couldn’t even see the pro-lifers if it weren’t for their signs held high.  The sound in that room was positively deafening.  I could barely hear myself think.  My ears were hurting just by stepping in the rotunda.  That is when my heart broke.  I stood watching grown men and women screaming, some sounding more like animals than people.  They even howled at times all for the “right” to kill unborn children.  I was dumbstruck.  Did they get that?!  Did they see how insane this was?  They were screaming so they could kill defenseless babies.  What does one even do with that?  You pray.  It’s all you can do.  Our group decided we needed to get as close to the pro-lifers in the third ring of hell.  The funny thing about that, the pro aborts didn’t want us to get in.  I am not really sure why.  I thought everyone was free to stand for their beliefs, I thought it was my choice (that’s what they kept screaming in our ears anyway).  A group of women in orange made it their mission to block us out.  They would watch us and purposely move in front or bump us if need be.  I knew going in that there would be no way I would engage in conversation with the pro abort group.  I had heard too many reports about how they were willing to go to jail for this.  I was NOT going to be calling my husband to come bail me out!  I was going to pray peacefully and silently.  That was before I saw the aggressiveness of the other group.  I didn’t think twice when my friends tried to move closer and I stepped between them and the orange shirt lady, allowing them to pass.

::video below of what it was like in the middle of the rotunda::

The orange shirt lady didn’t like that very much and yelled at me “you bumped me!!!!!!”  Of course I didn’t.  She ran right into me because she didn’t see me.  Her friend started yelling at me, “why are you here?!!!!! Why do you hate us?!!”.  And just like that my plan of keeping my mouth zipped and not engaging evaporated before my eyes.  Sure there were many eloquent things I could have said.  Here was my chance for my voice to be heard and share with them why I am always and unapologetically prolife.

However, in the third ring of hell, there is no conversation. 

There is no reasoning. 

There is no friendly debate.

::below is video of a clearly agitated woman and her aggressive actions towards anyone who doesn’t agree with her choice to abort::

I looked at her and simply said “I am just standing here.  I don’t hate you.”  I know.  Powerful, right?  She apologized and let me be.  They continued to scream all around us and you could feel their breath on our necks and heads.  We were packed in, it was hot and smelly.  I could see a young man in the middle of this group.  He was wearing blue and holding a prolife sign.  There was a girl in orange leaning up against him and pushing with all her weight.  She screamed, she yelled, she whistled and kept pushing that young man.   We tried praying as a group even though some of us were separated from each other.  I kept looking up and taking it all in. All around me and above me were angry voices.  They hated what I believed.  They hated what I stood for.  I could feel every ounce of hate they had for me as I stood there.  It was a heavy burden.   I couldn’t pray a rosary though I clutched those beads in my hand.  My friends prayed a Chaplet of Divine Mercy.  I couldn’t.  I couldn’t concentrate long enough.  I couldn’t stop looking at the angry faces.  “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like Yours”.  That is all I could pray over and over and over in my head.  Women in orange turned to my friend and told her to leave.  I wanted to ask her why.  Why is she allowed to voice her views and we are not?  My friend was calm, smiling, stood her ground.  I looked at my other friend who had a man screaming in her ear, bumping her, putting his sign so close it was practically on her head.  Why was it ok for this man to bully my friend?!  Why did no one have a problem with this?  Are women only to be protected when they are pro-choice?  How could he be there to defend a woman’s choice then try to intimidate any woman who did not think like him?  Am I the only one seeing the irony here? 

Then it was like time stopped; a total grace-filled moment.

I looked at my friends and was completely overwhelmed with how completely and utterly beautiful they were. 

They were here. 

They were standing up for babies who had no voice.

They were standing up for women who need to be encouraged to nurture life and not destroy it.

They were sincere. 

They were being a light in an incredibly dark place. 

There was no shouting or pushing back from them. 

They endured those insults with a smile. 

And this wasn’t just any smile. 

They had the most peaceful, accepting smiles on their faces as they radiated the love of Christ.

Tears started to come and I fought them back.  It made me think of the Blessed Mother and her complete acceptance of God’s will, her complete submission.  I can honestly say I have never seen more beautiful women in all my life.  I am so very thankful God permitted me that moment.  We got the text that it was time to go before the crowd got worse.  It was hard to consider what “worse” would look like.  We told our friends it was time to go. One chose to stay.  I was worried for her but she couldn’t be swayed.  As I walked away, I made eye contact with the young man in the blue shirt who still had someone on his back pushing him.  He wasn’t angry and it surprised me.  He seemed to be at peace.  I mouthed “thank you” to him and he smiled.  I left wishing I could do more to help him.

The rest of the evening went well as we left the three ring circus and headed to the basement to watch debate and the vote.  By the time the senators voted, our room was full of only prolife supporters.  It was beautiful to be there and celebrate with them.  There was a group of young girls who traveled up from the valley to be a part of this.  They were supposed to be on their way home but couldn’t bring themselves to leave.  The joy in their eyes and the smile on their faces was priceless.  That is the way I will remember last night; the faces.  There were the faces of those beautiful young girls from the valley who were so happy when the bill passed. There were the angry pro-abortion faces screaming at me even when I tried smiling at them.  There were the beautiful faces of my friends as they tried to show the pro aborts love, kindness, and resolve.  There was the strong and confident face of the pro-life young man standing in the center of the rotunda enduring screams and shoving as I caught his eye to say thank you.  There were the faces that wouldn’t even look at me as I offered my place in line at the bathroom to a pro-abortion woman. There were the faces of DPS troopers who were clearly concerned.  There was the face of my senator, tired and worried as he quickly walked away from the crowds surrounded by DPS troopers.  Lastly I will remember the faces of our parish group as we pulled into St. Williams parking lot and all walked into the adoration chapel to thank God.  There was joy but most importantly there was peace.  We went to the capital last night and came back with peace. ~ D, Georgetown

Video of reaction from Texas Alliance for Life, submitted by and used with permission by Tony Tovar

So, what happened to the one left behind in the rotunda? You can read her story here.