The picture you see there is one of the symbols of the pro-abortion movement. Here is the basis of their claim:
1. Before abortion was legalized in 1973 in Roe v. Wade, thousands and thousands of women got unsafe, illegal abortions, approximately 200,000 to 1.2 million every year. (Thus the coat-hanger image. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.)
2. Because abortion was so dangerous, 5,000-10,000 women died from abortions every year.
3. When abortion was legalized, there was no need to go to money-grubbing back-alley butchers for abortions: women could now go to licensed medical professionals under safe, sanitary conditions.
4. Thus, thousands of women’s lives were/are saved (because they didn’t die from unsafe abortions).
5. If abortion were made illegal, women would begin dying off like flies again.
6. Conclusion: abortion must remain legal.
In reality, there is little basis for this claim. First, the numbers*:
Women perhaps got 1.2 million illegal abortions every year? Really? Then why, the first year after abortion was made legal, were there only 744,600 abortions performed? Legal abortion doesn’t make women decide to be much more careful about getting pregnant. It makes the opposite occur. And this caused the deaths of 5,000-10,000 women? Actually, in 1972, the year before Roe v. Wade, there were only 39 deaths from illegal abortions. (They were higher in earlier decades, in the hundreds, but the numbers declined dramatically after antibiotics became widely used.)
It’s disturbing how widespread these false figures are. Planned Parenthood uses them. So does NARAL Pro-Choice America. Prominent pro-abortion organizations. And these figures are false. And it’s likely that a good deal of these people know they are false.
‘“In NARAL (the acronym for the then-National Association for the Reform of Abortion Laws) we generally emphasize the drama of the individual case, not the mass statistics, but when we spoke of the latter it was always 5,000 to 10,000 deaths each year'. I confess that I knew the figures were totally false...But in the `morality' of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics?" Said Dr. Bernard Nathanson, one of the founders of NARAL and once the director of the busiest abortion clinic in the Western world. (From Aborting
America, Doubleday, 1979.)’ [Quoted from here.]
Now that we have those fake figures out of the way, let’s do some math. This argument above shouldn’t affect pro-lifers at all. Did women die from unsafe abortions? Yes. (Women actually still die from abortions today.)It is terribly sad, but it isn’t the trump card. Pro-lifers care about life. For both the women and their children.
Assume that 10,000 women would die every year from unsafe abortions if abortion was made illegal again. Assume that the number of illegal abortions would be about the same as it was the first year abortion was legalized: 744,600.
Abortion Illegal: 10,000 + 744,600 = 754,600 deaths.
Abortion Legal: [unknown]** + 1,200,000 = >1,200,000 deaths.
I’ll take the former, please.*Information gathered from several different websites, trusing that their sources were correct, as I can't look up everything first-hand myself.
**This number is uncertain because usually death causes aren't listed as abortion itself, but the specific thing that killed the woman: the type of infection (that was caused by abortion, though abortion isn't mentioned), for example. I am working on another post that discusses deaths related to abortion.
Here is a short list of websites I gathered information from, since I couldn't link to just one when I had a fact.
Georgia Right to Life
Why Can't We Love Them Both?
Physicians For Life
Prominent pro-abortion websites that use the fake figures (I don't like to link to them, but here are easy Google searches that will probably make them come up on top):
Our Bodies Ourselves: The Impact of Illegal Abortion
Lessons From Before Roe: Will Past be Prologue?
Before and After Roe National Organization for Women
Planned Parenthood Fact Sheet November 2009 Roe v. Wade Did Not Invent Abortion
Image found via Google Images. No copyright infringement intended.