Speaking of pro-abortion media bias, Mediaite’s Noah Rothman has caught MSNBC in an especially egregious display of journalistic malpractice. Anchor Thomas Roberts teed up the ball for NARAL spokeswoman Ilyse Hogue in the most helpfully partisan way imaginable, then let her run wild with it:
ROBERTS: Do these type of strict laws that are looking to clamp down or totally do away with abortion and what Roe v. Wade provides in this country, do they make the life of the mother much more dangerous? For a woman that’s trying to seek proper treatment for what her concerns are, I mean these laws really limit the available options.
HOGUE: Absolutely. I mean, there’s two things to say about that Thomas. One is, your viewers have to remember that women will make their choices, the only question is whether they will make them safely or not. Pre-Roe, illegal abortion was the top killer of women of childbearing age in this country. I don’t think anyone wants to go back to those days.
Rothman notes that “Hogue’s claim is entirely fabricated,” citing a 2005 FactCheck.org report (UPDATE: working link to same column here) which says the “best evidence indicates that the annual deaths from illegal abortions would number in the hundreds, not thousands” and that “from the 1940s through the 1960s, in fact, the best available evidence shows a dramatic decline in abortion-related deaths occurring even before the first states liberalized abortion laws in 1967,” with the decline having more to do with “penicillin and the birth-control pill.”
Dig a little deeper, and Hogue’s lie becomes even less defensible. In their thorough debunking of the claim, our friends at Abort73 quote two pre-Roe Planned Parenthood officials who painted a very different picture at the time. Dr. Christopher Tietze, statistician for PP and the Center for Disease Control, wrote for Scientific America in 1969:
The total number of deaths from all causes among women of reproductive age in the U.S. is not more than about 50,000 per year. The National Center for Health Statistics listed 235 deaths from abortion in 1965. Total mortality from illegal abortions was undoubtedly larger than that figure, but in all likelihood it was under 1,000.
In 1960, former PP director Mary Calderon acknowledged that this was because, contrary to the mythical image of a desperate woman with a coat hanger in a grimy alleys, 90% of illegal abortions were done by licensed physicians in good standing:
In 1957 there were only 260 deaths in the whole country attributed to abortions of any kind. In New York City in 1921 there were 144 abortion deaths, In 1951 there were only 15; and , while the abortion death rate was going down so strikingly in that 30-year period, we know what happened to the population and the birth rate.
It’s also worth noting that she too attributes declining deaths to the advent of “chemotherapy and antibiotics,” not new laws.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in 1972 alone, 130,000 women obtained illegal or self-induced procedures, 39 of whom died.
Given how scandalously false her opener was, it’s no surprise how densely Hogue managed to pack the rest of her interview monologue with oversimplifications, lies, and slurs. She asserted that “where they’re shutting down family planning clinics, and unintended pregnancies go up, right?”
Perhaps in the short term, as already-pregnant women find themselves unable to dispose of their kids, but as Michael New has explained in response to the common complaint about high teen pregnancy in red/Southern states, (a) “a major reason why New York has a lower teen birthrate is because New York teens are far more likely to abort,” (b) “not every southern school district has adopted abstinence-only sex education,” (c) “poverty rates are a key determinant in teen-pregnancy rates and many southern states have a high incidence of poverty,” and (d) “the average age of marriage is much lower in many southern states, so some percentage of these teen pregnancies are carried by older teens who are married.” New also notes evidence for the ineffectiveness of contraceptives and “comprehensive” sex-ed in cutting teen pregnancies, and that abstinence is the more likely cause of 2011’s historic low in teen births. When you change people’s options and honestly teach them about them, long-term behavior will change accordingly.
But those aren’t even Hogue’s wildest claims. Citing no evidence whatsoever, she says that denying women abortion limits their ability to “participate in society,” and that abortion is apparently the magic ingredient “in countries where women thrive, families thrive, communities thrive, governments thrive, businesses thrive.” Wow! Abortion makes everything better! What would we do without it?
Well, the data actually shows that only 22% of all pregnancies end in abortion (including less than half of unintended ones) and that only 2% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 abort annually. So in the grim, dystopian future without “choice,” it seems most women would…do pretty much what they’re already doing. The United States’ culture, government, and economy would somehow manage to survive, too.
Hogue closes with the obligatory straw man to the effect that “what we know as women is that we are people” (pro-lifers aren’t the one’s questioning anyone’s personhood), that abortion is “guaranteed in the Constitution” (um, no) which pro-lifers only selectively enforce (snort), and that pro-lifers “wanna shove women back to the Middle Ages” (because abortion is so modern).
And Roberts didn’t question a word of it. Last month, Pew Research Center found that MSNBC was 85% opinion and just 15% reporting, and it shows. MSNBC isn’t a news network; it’s a pro-bono subsidiary of the Democrat Party and their left-wing coalition.
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