Dr. Kimberly Leslie posted an op-ed regarding women’s health and abortion in the Sunday Journal. She should be commended for her desire to educate the public. However, many of her educational points are unsupported and she makes skewed assumptions.
Leslie reported a maternal death rate of 20 per 100,000 before Roe v. Wade. Given there were about 4 million births annually in the 1950s-1960s, that would mean about 8,000 women died from maternal deaths in that time.
NARAL has reported that 5,000 to 10,000 women died from “back alley” abortions annually before Roe. That number exceeds all pregnancy-related deaths, thus a fallacy. That number is largely based on miscalculations published by Dr. Frederick Taussig in 1936. Actual numbers of deaths related to illegal abortions (reported by the CDC) varied from about 100 to 200 per year, pre-Roe.
Certainly, that is too many deaths, but to say that “many (died) from unsafe abortions,” is another misleading scare tactic. Since Roe, the CDC reported abortion-related deaths of 10 to 90 per year.
Leslie indicates that legislative restrictions will somehow hurt women. I believe we only have to look at the Gosnell case to realize that regulation of the industry is desperately needed.
Until very recently, abortion was illegal in Ireland. Yet the maternal mortality rate has been no higher; in fact, it is lower than that of other developed countries where abortion is legal. In Chile, abortion laws have become more restrictive, yet maternal mortality rates have improved.
There is no reliable evidence to support the notion that legal abortion restrictions will hurt women.
Both Pro-Choice and Pro-Life advocates are guilty of manipulating statistics.
The CDC reports that only 45 of 50 states report numbers of abortions. There is no mandatory reporting of abortion-related deaths or complications. To claim that legal abortion is safe simply cannot be substantiated. One may argue that the converse is also true.
Certainly, it is reasonable to assume that both minor and major abortion complications are under-reported.
I, like Leslie, am a female Ob/Gyn. I practice in New Mexico. I also feel an obligation to bring truth to the public.
Unlike Leslie, I will not be counted among the 100 Ob/Gyn professionals signing the statement on abortion that echoes the 1972 letter.
Instead, I stand with the 2,500 Ob/Gyn professionals that belong to the American Association of Prolife Obstetricians and Gynecologists. We, as physicians, are responsible for the care and well-being of both our pregnant women patients and their unborn children.
We agree that any injury suffered by women from abortion, whether done legally or illegally, is tragic. It is more tragic that perinatal mortality never enters this discussion. One of four preborn lives lost to abortion is a travesty.