Pro-Life Debate #3: “The Coat Hanger Argument”

Photo used via license from Demion.

To mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v Wade, some pro-abortion activists took to the streets to celebrate. One sign that caught my eye depicted a bent coat hanger with the words “Never Again” underneath. This sign was obviously in reference to the oft argued idea that if abortion was ever made illegal, thousands of women would die from unsafe abortions. Here is the response to this argument:

1) Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a former abortion doctor and one of the founders of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, said that these statistics were made up.

“In NARAL, we generally emphasized the frame of the individual case, not the mass statistics, but when we spoke of the latter it was always 5,000 to 10,000 deaths a year. I confess that I knew that the figures were totally false and I suppose that others did too if they stopped to think of it. 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? The overriding concern was to get the laws eliminated, and anything within reason that had to be done was permissible.”

2) There was very little illegal abortion death before Roe v Wade.

According to the Center for Disease Control in 1972 the death rate from abortions was only 39 in the entire country. These deaths were still a tragedy, and could have been avoided if the mother had chosen life, but it remains clear that the numbers are nowhere near the number that pro-abortion advocates would have you believe. Also, in 1960, Dr. Mary Calderone, the medical director of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America revealed that, “about 90 percent of all illegal abortions are presently being done by physicians…Whatever trouble arises usually arises from self-induced abortions, which comprise approximately 8 percent, or with the very small percentage that go to some kind of non-medical abortionist…So remember…abortion, whether therapeutic or illegal, is in the main no longer dangerous, because it is being done well by physicians.” Planned Parenthood admitted BEFORE Roe v Wade, that illegal abortions were only widely dangerous when they were self-induced.

3) Abortion is not safe now.

Almost every week there is at least one article on reporting that a woman has suffered a botched abortion and 911 was called. Here are just a few examples from the past year:

  • 01/22/12- Two women suffering from abortion related injuries in Alabama have to be physically carried down a trash filled alley behind an abortion clinic by paramedics, as there was no door big enough to accommodate a gurney.
  • 01/11/12- A woman in Mississippi wins a $600,000 malpractice judgment after a failed abortion attempt left her with a life threatening infection.
  • 01/09/12- A 28 year old woman is rushed to a Virginia hospital after a botched abortion left her with uncontrolled bleeding.
  • 12/26/11- 911 is called after a California woman is injured in a botched abortion.
  • 08/15/11- Operation Rescue obtains 911 calls regarding EIGHT women who required medical attention after botched abortions in Albuquerque, NM. One of the women died.
  • 04/18/11- A 16 year old girl is rushed to a Washington hospital after a botched abortion.
  • 01/11/11 – Boston paramedics are called to assist a woman suffering from complications due to a botched abortion.
  • 01/19/11- Abortion practitioner Kermit Gosnell is charged with murder in the death of his patient, Karnamay Mongar.

Through these three simple arguments we can clearly see that the so called “Coat Hanger Argument” has no basis in truth and is easily refutable. At the end of the day, one fact remains – Abortion ENDS lives, not saves them.

10 thoughts on “Pro-Life Debate #3: “The Coat Hanger Argument”

  1. If I take a coathanger and kill my child then the blood is on my hands, assuming you didn’lt know. If Iget my dr to do it then the blood is on his hands as well. But if I go to a clinic, the blood mars everyone that works there. If I ask you to pay for it, then you must also hae the blood of innocent life on your hands. No matter how dilute the blood is, it carries the same stain. Standing by while someone is comtemplating an abortion; if you say nothing, the blood touches is your business to help your friend see her baby as valuable and loved. No one else is defending his life. Someday your friend will thank you.


  2. that’s really good, since surgical abortions are still SURGICAL PROCEDURES.

    all types of people DIE and get harmed during surgery all the time, remember the story of the woman who had surgical scissors inside her?

    abortion saves lives –mentally, physically, emotional and financially.


    1. Only half the people who enter an abortion clinic come out alive. Infanticide is the murder of an innocent human life. And you actually think it’s good for women emotionally and mentally? How about the fact that women who have murdered their children are far more likely to suffer from depression and even suicide? And financially? Really? So if you have to scrimp and save, an innocent life isn’t worth it? Nice message.


      1. LESS than half the people who enter an abortion clinic come out alive. Women die in there daily.


    2. I bet lots of people, especially in America, die attempting to murder people. And home invaders – don’t some of them get injured? Maybe we should just make robbery legal – I mean, think of all the suffering would-be robbers go through, knowing what they have chosen to do is illegal!
      Abortion takes a life. Unless the direct result of an abortion is that a dying woman lives (ie. the fetus was directly endangering the mother’s life) there is no reason good enough to kill an innocent person.
      Unless, of course, you argue that a fetus is not a person.
      Which is what it all comes down to …


    3. Really?
      Mental and emotional problems caused by abortion, include, but are not limited to:  sleep disorders, anxiety/nervous disorders, grief, PTSD, Post Abortion Syndrome, eating disorders,
      substance abuse, divorce, chronic relationship problems, self
      punishment, child abuse, and suicide.
      Physical problems caused by abortion include, but are not limited to:  uterine perforations,
      cervical lacerations, endometriosis, infection, excessive bleeding,
      embolism, ripping of the uterus, anesthesia complications, convulsions,
      hemorrhage, cervical injury, toxic shock, fever, chronic abdominal
      pains, second degree burns, Rh sensitization, vomiting, gastro-intestinal disturbances, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer, and death.

      Did you actually read the article? The statistics you often hear (and probably spout) are made up. Pre-Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood attested that there were very few deaths due to abortion. Here are more quotes from that article by Mary Calderone that Live Action is quoting from:
      “In 1957 there were only 260 deaths in the whole
      country attributed to abortion of any kind.”Meaning from spontaneous abortion and surgical abortion. Being that miscarriage is not rare, and was possibly even more common then, there were FAR more deaths due to a routine D&C than there were to illegal abortion, since there were far fewer surgical abortions.
      On how abortion deaths were being reduced without legalization.
      “[F]irst, chemotherapy and antibiotics have come
      in, benefitting all surgical procedures as well as abortion. Second, and
      even more important, the [1955 Planned Parenthood Conference on Induced
      Abortion] estimated that 90 per cent of all illegal abortions are presently
      being done by physicians.”On the character and qualifications of illegal abortion practitioners.”Call them what you will, abortionists or anything
      else, they are still physicians, trained as such; and many of them are
      in good standing in their communities. They must do a pretty good job if
      the death rate is as low as it is.
      ” Emphasis mine.
      As for financial, that’s what we have crisis pregnancy/pregnancy resource centers for. You pro-abortion choicers are always going about lobbying against them, trying to close them down, and yet they help those who need the financial aid you’re whining about. They give money, food, clothing, shelter, medical, counseling, help with bills, job training, job referral, education, baby sitting, baby items, etc. If you want to save women’s lives, don’t shut down the centers, keep them open and volunteer!

      FYI -ABORTION KILLED MY AUNT!!! Just like it wasn’t safe for her child, it wasn’t safe for her! She didn’t even want an abortion, she was told – by her husband, no less – to get one or he would kill her! She developed Post Abortion Syndrome, and since people like you always tell women to get the F over it, and that PAS doesn’t exist, she drank until she died of cirrhosis of the liver!!! I love my aunt, and she will forever be in my heart. However, her death was something that had a major impact on my life, and I won’t stop until abortion is illegal so no one else has to go through what she did!


  3. War is peace, debt is money, shadows are sunshine, sleep is work, lies are truth, and truth is relative. Go for broke and they lived happily ever after. The end.


  4. And that still doesn’t justify making abortion “safe”, even if all of those things you mentioned weren’t true. We don’t legalize injustice simply to make it safer! Instead, we should be working to help all the pregnant women in crisis pregnancies.


  5. Thanks for the article Deanna.  Just a note; of the 39 women deaths from abortion in 1972 you mentioned, most of them were legal, since some states had already legalized abortion before roe v wade.  In 1977 there were 21 women that died from abortion (17 legal, 4 illegal); 1981, 9 women died from abortion (8 legal, 1 illegal).  So, even with abortion  being legal, women continue to die along with their babies.


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