Republicans claim falsely that abortion is a dangerous medical procedure for women. But the following facts presented by David A. Grimes, Author, Every Third Woman in America: How Legal Abortion Transformed Our Nation and former Chief of the Abortion Surveillance Branch at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tell the true story:
“Because of difficulty in accessing abortion care, desperate women are once again attempting self-abortion.
Before Roe v. Wade in 1973, an estimated 200,000 to 1.2 million illegal abortions occurred annually in the U.S. The carnage was terrible. Incomplete abortion was a leading cause of admission to gynecology wards across America. In the year when I was born, more than 700 women died this way. Around the world today, unsafe abortion kills an estimated 47,000 women each year. After the legalization of abortion in the U.S., the risk of death promptly fell to less than that from an injection of penicillin.
The scientific foundation for safe, legal abortion is incontrovertible. Within two years of Roe v. Wade, the Institute of Medicine had concluded that legal abortion improved the health of women. All major medical and public health organizations today affirm the health benefits of legal abortion; these include the World Health Organization, American Public Health Organization, American Medical Association, American Medical Women’s Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, and American Psychiatric Association.”
Those are the facts. Yet Texas governor Rick Perry called a special session of his Legislature to enact strangling legislation that would close all but a handful of clinics in that state―under the guise of “concern for women’s health.” That legislation included requiring the physician who performs abortions to affiliate with a hospital within 30 miles, and that all abortions take place in ambulatory surgical centers. This would require expensive construction and equipment standards that do not apply to all other outpatient facilities where other surgical procedures like liposuction and colonoscopies take place.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law, and went so far as to say that it did not consider a 300-mile round trip for nearly 1 million women of reproductive age to be a substantial burden because that number was ‘nowhere near’ a large fraction of the state’s 5.4 million women of childbearing age.
In June, 2016, SCOTUS overturned Texas’ law. In the majority opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the restrictions “vastly increase the obstacles confronting women seeking abortions in Texas without providing any benefit to women’s health capable of withstanding any meaningful scrutiny.”
Yet the law was originally passed with the arrogant expectation that people are naïve enough to believe it was for women’s safety.
Sadly, in great part, their expectation is met.
Several months ago, I had a conversation with a politically-conservative man, a man who is highly educated and is one of the most brilliant attorneys I have ever known. While discussing my novel, Moral Infidelity, which has fact-based medical data about abortions in its pages, I mentioned that Texas had only six abortion clinics and Mississippi only one, due to this draconian legislation. He asked, “But isn’t that for a woman’s safety?” It was hard for me to fathom that such an intelligent person could be so clueless; and if he were that clueless, just how many of those who are not as educated or well-read or informed as he, held that same erroneous belief?
When I told him that women are 40 times more likely each year to die of a colonoscopy than an abortion, he was stunned. But then the brainy part of him kicked in and he said, “Yes, because of sepsis.”
Another medical fact worth noting: Women are 14 times more likely to die from childbirth than from an abortion.
We need to have these two simple statistics at the ready to impart to people like my friend who parrot the Republicans’ (and FOX News’) lies about the dangers of abortions.
I have whittled my argument against such ignorance down to this succinct phrase:
“It is a medical fact that women are 40 times more likely to die of a colonoscopy, and 14 times more likely to die from childbirth, than from an abortion.”
Even the most avid anti-abortionists have jaw-dropping moments when they hear this.
And I must say, it feels pretty darn good to trump ignorance with facts. I freaking love medical facts.