Saturday, July 02, 2005

Abortions save lives

Sandra Day O'Connor, a swing vote on the Supreme Court who cast the decisive vote to retain abotion rights in 1992, has just resigned. President Bush gets to appoint a Supreme Court Justice to replace her. This battle over the nominee will probably be heated all this summer.

I know a little about illegal abortions because I had one before 1972 and wound up hemorraghing, needing to be rushed to the hospital to save my life. Since this is so personal an issue, I paid attention to the death of Rosaura Jimenez, a young Mexican-American woman who lived in Texas after abortion was legalized. She couldn't afford a legal one so got an illegal abortion and died. Yes, women do die from illegal abortions even after the procedure was legalized.

What bothers me a lot is the characterization of anti-abortionists as pro-life. I find this untrue rhetoric. For 30 years statistics have shown that the legalization of abortion in 1972 has, according to the Guttmacher institute, improved " the health and well-being of American women. Deaths from abortion have plummeted, and are now a rarity. In addition, women have been able to have abortions earlier in pregnancy when the procedure is safest." The Guttmacher Institute says that rollbacks on abortion rights threaten this improvement in women's health and life.

The Guttmacher Institute gives specific statistics: "In 1930, abortion was listed as the official cause of death for almost 2,700 women—nearly one-fifth (18%) of maternal deaths recorded in that year. The death toll had declined ... to just over 300 by 1950 (most likely because of the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s, which permitted more effective treatment of the infections that frequently developed after illegal abortion). By 1965, the number of deaths due to illegal abortion had fallen to just under 200, but illegal abortion still accounted for 17% of all deaths attributed to pregnancy and childbirth that year. And these are just the number that were officially reported; the actual number was likely much higher." Again, thousands of women like myself were seriously injured every year by illegal abotions.

Anti-abortionists dispute these figures, and always ignore that the actual death figures could be higher even than Guttmacher Institute says. After all, abortion pre-1972 was illegal, and illegal activities are invaribly undereported. Thousands of women like myself were rushed to the hospital hemorrahging or with bad infections were also underreported because the reason for our hospital stays was covered up as mine was. Since abortion was legalized in California and a few other states beginning in 1967, one should use pre-1967 figures to gage the harm illegal abortion did to women.

Poor women and women of color had the toughest time getting safe illegal abortions. The Guttmacher Institute reports, "In 1962 alone, nearly 1,600 women were admitted to Harlem Hospital Center in New York City for incomplete abortions, which was one abortion-related hospital admission for every 42 deliveries at that hospital that year. ...In New York City in the early 1960s, one in four childbirth-related deaths among white women was due to abortion; in comparison, abortion accounted for one in two childbirth-related deaths among nonwhite and Puerto Rican women."

Finally, even in 1972 with legal abortion many poor women had trouble getting them: "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. Furthermore, from 1972 to 1974, the mortality rate due to illegal abortion for nonwhite women was 12 times that for white women" (Guttmacher).

All the statistics show that legal abortions for the last 30 years have saved women's lives and reduced by huge amounts injuries from the procedure. Being pro-abortion is pro-life. It's about time we start saying being against abortion endangers women's health and lives. Anti-abortionists are not pro-life. We should quit calling them that. Having a legal abortion is ten times safer for women than having a baby in the United States. One last fact. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 80,000 women around the world still die each year of complications from illegal abortion. If anyone want to save lives, one could save thousands of women's lives around the world by getting them legal abortions.


Christina Dunigan said...

Not to rain too hard on your parade, but even as early as 1972 women were dying from botched legal abortions. Is the woman who dies from a legal abortion somehow better off than the one who dies from a criminal abortion?

California Writer said...

Dear Grannygrump,
Your comment "even as early as 1972 women were dying from botched legal abortions" proves absolutely nothing. In 1972 women were dieing from pregnancies. In 1972 women were dieing from auto accidents. In 1972 some women were even murdered. Or I could rephrase your question, "How is a woman who dies from an auto accident better than one who dies from a criminal abortion? Why don't you answer that one.

csmith2 said...

My question is why do women in the United States have over a million abortions per year when we have multiple forms of effective birth control available to us at no cost? It is shameful and embarrassing. What are we thinking as women? Can't we protect ourselves better than this? Can't we use our brains better than this?

I am a birth mother who chose to give twins to a loving family. In that process I learned a lot about myself, my family, friends and coworkers, all of which were positive. The process could not have been more loving or more supportive.

My sister worked for a legal abortionist in the early 70's. He killed three women in 12 months. I think the point is that women were dying from legal abortions as well as illegal abortions, so the danger was with the practice of abortion, not only the conditions in which they were being performed.