Analysis

Would banning abortion ‘literally kill women’? The answer is still no.

An ambulance parked outside the St. Louis Planned Parenthood. Medication abortion is unsafe, too.

The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in a case dealing with Louisiana’s requirement that abortionists obtain hospital admitting privileges like other physicians do for continuity and consistency of patient care. In response, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders tweeted a video claiming that if abortion is banned, women will die. This is not a new claim; it’s been made by people like Hillary Clinton as well as former Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen. But the argument was false then, and it’s still false now. Even the Washington Post assigned the claim four Pinocchios.

“We must fight with everything we’ve got, because if they succeed the consequences would be absolutely disastrous and threaten the lives of women all across this country,” Sanders claimed. “Here’s how we know: immediately after Roe v. Wade, the mortality rate for abortions decreased significantly. Making abortion legal made it safer. It is not a stretch to say that banning abortion will, quite literally, kill women.”

As Live Action News has previously reported, the number of women who were said to have died from illegal abortions before Roe v. Wade was completely fabricated, with NARAL founder Dr. Bernard Nathanson (who later became pro-life) admitting that the figure was made up to scare society into legalizing abortion. Researcher Christopher Tietze had said the actual number of deaths from abortion — in 1945, decades before Roe v. Wade — was less than 1,000 annually, and had been steadily declining due to penicillin and better medical procedures. The Washington Post’s previously mentioned fact check cited Tietze as well as former Planned Parenthood medical director Mary Steichen Calderone, who acknowledged that the mortality rate had been declining due to antibiotics, and that 90% of illegal abortions were still being committed by trained physicians.

How many women died from abortions, both legal and illegal, before Roe v. Wade? Very, very few. “The CDC began collecting data on abortion mortality in 1972, the year before Roe was decided,” the Post explained. “In 1972, the number of deaths in the United States from legal abortions was 24 and from illegal abortions 39, according to the CDC.”

A 1975 report from the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine likewise found that the total number of deaths from abortion “has been below 500 since 1958 and below 100 since 1971.” It’s also important to point out that overturning Roe v. Wade will not ban abortion outright; it merely makes it a state-by-state decision, which is why so many pro-abortion state lawmakers have been making sure to codify legal abortion into state law. If Roe v. Wade is ever repealed, abortion will remain legal in those states.

READ: Still lying: Planned Parenthood repeats (and repeats) debunked claim on illegal abortion deaths

So no, the repeal of Roe v. Wade will not result in a sudden drastic, disastrous increase in deaths from abortion. In fact, women are already dying and being injured from legal abortions. Legalizing abortion has not meant that it’s somehow become safer; abortion facilities are still, as a whole, shockingly unregulated, which simply reinforces the need for Louisiana’s admitting privileges law. Abortion advocates decry the need for these regulations — yet they’re exactly what separates supposedly safe, legal abortion from the so-called dangerous abortions that killed and maimed women before Roe v. Wade. If there is no oversight, if there are no standards, then how is legal abortion actually any safer? If abortionists are still butchering women in botched abortions — and they are — then they are still, in essence, back-alley butchers.

If this were truly an issue of keeping women safe, then abortion advocates would be embracing the same standards and restrictions on abortion facilities that every other outpatient surgical center has, like admitting privileges. The fact that they aren’t shows that this has nothing to do with what is best for women, and everything to do with advancing a pro-abortion agenda.

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