The ‘Back Alley Abortion’ straw man argument

back alley abortion mythAnti abortion’ legislation will create a return to the era of back alley abortions. How many times have you heard this straw man argument? The back alley abortion myth is trotted out on a regular basis as pro-life legislation continues to relentlessly advance at the state level.

Let’s debunk this straw man argument, just as we debunked several others in last week’s Iowans for Life blogpost, “How to annihilate an anti-Life straw man argument.”

Abortion kills a unique human being

Any pro life defense always begins with the fact that human abortion kills a unique human person. It recognizes that the overwhelming majority of abortions involve a healthy mother carrying a healthy baby in her womb.

In other words, most abortions are elective surgeries. Restricting these surgeries is certainly not immoral if it is protecting a human life. Abortion advocate, Mary Anne Warren, admitted as much:

“The fact that restricting access to abortion has tragic side effects does not, in itself, show that the restrictions are unjustified, since murder is wrong regardless of the consequences of forbidding it.”

The problem is that abortion advocates, such as Ms. Warren, simply don’t believe the fetus is a person.

So if we banned human abortion, would we see a return to thousands of ‘back alley’ abortions a year as proclaimed by abortion advocates?

No, not if the past is any indication.

How many women died from a botched abortion in 1972?

Ask any abortion advocate how many women died from abortion in 1972, the last year abortion was illegal throughout the country. They’ll probably shoot a pretty big number at you, because they’ve been listening to Planned Parenthood, NARAL, NOW, or a left-leaning politician.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Vital Statistics, though, there were only 39 women who died from a botched abortion in 1972. Each of these deaths is a tragedy, as is the death of their babies. But note that the number is in double digits, not tens of thousands.

Abortion advocates also suggest that these deaths came at the hands of “butchers” or, in other words, untrained medical personnel.

This is unlikely according the former medical director of Planned Parenthood, Dr. Mary Calderone. She wrote an article in 1960 for the American Journal of Health where she cited a 1958 study that indicated 84% to 87% of illegal abortions were performed by licensed physicians in good standing. By 1960, Dr. Calderone said that 90% of abortions, illegal though they may be, were performed by trained physicians, not by so-called back alley butchers.

Doctors disagree with the back alley abortion myth

The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology also disagrees with the back alley abortion myth. In 1978, they stated that Roe V Wade “has had no major impact on the number of women dying from abortion.”  They cited their own study which supported Dr. Calderone’s claim that 90% of illegal abortions had been performed by licensed physicians, not ‘back alley’ butchers.

The pro abortion Huffington Post runs columns that claim the number of annual abortions in the U.S. in the 1950s ranged from 200,000 to 1.2 million abortions per year. But that doesn’t make any sense in light of abortion statistics from the Centers for Disease Control after Roe v Wade legalized human abortion.

Logically, you would think that abortion would increase once it was made legal. The CDC reports that there were 615,831 abortions in 1973, increasing to 988,267 abortions by 1979. It is irrational to believe the abortion rate in the 1950s was higher than the 1970s.

In other words, the claims of Big Abortion and their disciples are straw men. They fabricated numbers out of thin air.

A history of deceit

Big Abortion has a long history of being less than forthright in their public utterances.

 Who can forget Ron Fitzimmons? The Executive Director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers went on ABC’s Nightline in 1995.  He said that partial birth abortion, the procedure where the fetus’ skull is crushed and its brains suctioned, was only performed in situations to save the mother’s life.  He said it was rare. Sixteen months later, he admitted “he lied through his teeth.”

It is almost refreshing when an abortion advocate is honest about lying. Cecile Richards had no such compunction, as you can see in the video below:

Cecile Richards and legions of her surrogates traveled the country proclaiming that Planned Parenthood is all about women’s health, including mammograms. This was the wedge they used to extract taxpayers’ money from the government. Live Action exposed the lie in this remarkable video.

More dishonest data

The co-founder of NARAL, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, also acknowledged the use of dishonest data to promote abortion legislation:

“We claimed that between five and ten thousand women a year died of botched abortions. The actual figure was closer to 200 to 300 and we also claimed that there were a million illegal abortions a year in the United States and the actual figure was close to 200,000. So, we were guilty of massive deception.”

Deceit drives the abortion trade.

Interestingly, with the advent of the ultrasound that clearly exposed the humanity of the fetus, Bernard Nathanson left Big Abortion, renouncing his former trade.

When confronted with a back alley abortion myth, remember, this is another straw man argument that is a lie. Iowans for Life is your resource for annihilating anti life straw man arguments.

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