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Eminent Domain Stuff

New London Update (2/24/06)
Coverage of the Rally at New London's City Hall (w/ pics)

Tuesday, June 01, 2004


Deaths Before Roe

Emily (of After Abortion fame) recently emailed me the link to where she asked Cecil Adams about the common claim that 10,000 women per year died of botched abortions before its legalization. Here's a bit of what he had to say:

To be fair, the number Goodman uses is consistent with estimates that were widely cited prior to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. But some say those numbers were knowingly inflated by proponents of abortion rights. The star witness for this claim is Bernard Nathanson, a former abortion clinic doctor who in 1969 cofounded the group now called NARAL Pro-Choice America (the letters originally stood for National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws). Since Roe, though, he's turned against his former comrades--he made the highly controversial 1984 antiabortion film The Silent Scream and has authored several books describing his conversion on this issue and critiquing the abortion-rights movement. In Aborting America (1979) Nathanson writes: "In NARAL we generally emphasized the drama of the individual case, not the mass statistics, but when we spoke of the latter 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?" (Emphasis is his.)

Better late than never. For 1972, the last full year before Roe, the federal Centers for Disease Control reported that 39 women died due to illegal abortion. (The death total for all abortions, including legal ones, was 88.) That figure is low, thanks to underreporting, but in any case the number of deaths had been dropping sharply for the previous few years. A statistic perhaps more typical of the pre-Roe era was reported in a 1969 Scientific American article cowritten by Christopher Tietze, a senior fellow with the Population Council: "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."

Read the whole thing.

Also, After Abortion has yet another great email posted from a woman who had multiple abortions in the past and now sees things a bit differently. When you look at it from her point of view, the old pro-choice arguments begin to lose a what appeal they might ever have had.


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