LIFE ISSUES NO.
DEATHS FROM ILLEGAL
How many women died from illegal
abortions? We do have records in the U.S. of how many women
died from abortions (spontaneous, legal and illegal), and
the U.S. is one of the few nations that separate the deaths
into these three categories. And these numbers are readily
available from the U.S. Bureau of Vital Statistics.
Remember now, prior to legalization
of abortion, the proponents of abortion claimed that deaths
from illegal abortions were between 5,000 and 10,000 women
a year. That many women died from illegal abortions annually
in the U.S.
Let's look at the actual numbers.
We find that we must go back before the era of penicillin
to find the year when there were more than 1,000 women dying.
Remember they claimed 5,000 or 10,000? With penicillin, the
number of deaths quickly dropped to under 300 a year, and
after that there was a continuing, steady decline as medical
So let's jump to 1967. That's
the year when our first state legalized abortion. How many
women died in the U.S. that year from abortions? A total of
160. Let's go to 1972. By then 17 states had legalized abortion,
but all of these were very restrictive laws, except New York
and California. How many mothers died in 1972, the year before
Roe vs. Wade? Thirty-nine. Did you hear that? Only
39 women in all 50 states in a full year.
Only 39 mothers died. That's
less than one per state per year. I think it's of interest
that 25 more died that year from legal abortions.
Well, 1973 was the year the Supreme
Court legalized abortion in all 50 states. After that, there
shouldn't have been any more back-alley abortions, at least
you wouldn't think so. If that were true, then there wouldn't
be many women, or any, dying from that reason anymore. You
couldn't tell it from looking at maternal death statistics.
The slowly descending line on the graph didn't even waver.
It continued its steady, slow
descent at the same rate as previously a decline in
deaths clearly due to better and better medical and surgical
care, antibiotics, etc. By 1982, maternal deaths had dropped
to 21 women dying each year, and since then it has fluctuated
between 10 and 20 per year.
It is strikingly clear that legalizing
abortion did not have any noticeable effect in reducing the
number of women dying from abortions, for that number continued
its slow, steady decline which obviously was due to better
and better medical care.
Almost certainly, then, legalization
of abortion did not save any women's lives. Today legal abortion
is claiming as many lives every year as would probably have
been lost if abortion were still illegal.