With the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, abortion activists fear that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision legalizing abortion in all 50 states, could be overturned. One of the persistent talking points that pro-choice pundits turn to is that if Roe v. Wade were overturned and abortion was banned, women would still abort but they would be forced to do so unsafely. This attempted argument has convinced even some who morally oppose abortion to support keeping it legal.
However, it is not true that women would seek elective abortion at the same rate under laws that protect the right to life of preborn babies.
Candace Stewart, writing for Secular Pro-Life, compiled an extensive list of studies (even more listed here) showing that pro-life laws actually do lead to a decrease in abortions — and conversely, legalizing it leads to an increase in abortions and a decrease in the birth rate. Many of the studies Stewart examined showed the effect of such laws on fertility in various states or countries, which showed lower fertility rates where abortion is more accessible and higher where abortion is restricted. From this, it is clear that these sorts of laws — whether pro-life or pro-choice — do affect the number of preborn children killed via this ‘procedure.’ If they didn’t, there would be no significant difference in the fertility rates with and without restrictions. These differences remain statistically significant even after factoring in women who traveled to another state or country to undergo an abortion.
Secular Pro-Life notes that “pro-life laws… decrease abortion in an indirect way: by decreasing unintended pregnancies. The idea is that people perceive abortion as an insurance policy.”
With the recent SCOTUS nomination, pro-choice activists have returned to the statistics allegedly showing that many women died from illegal abortions. In his 1997 book, Aborting America, former abortionist and NARAL founder turned pro-life activist, Bernard Nathanson, admitted these illegal abortion death statistics were completely fabricated. He wrote:
It was always “5,000 to 10,000 deaths a year.” I confess that I knew the figures were totally false, and I suppose the 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 [against abortion] eliminated, and anything within reason that had to be done was permissible.
Studies show that pro-life laws save human lives without endangering women. That is the reason that Ireland, which until this spring banned almost all abortions, had one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world. Legalizing abortion is not necessary for the health and safety of women. Restricting it saves human lives, and a growing body of data proves it.