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Selling abortion

"Selling abortion" Continued...

Issue: "Millions cut down," Jan. 17, 2009

Phase three began in January, 1973, as the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade mandated abortion anywhere without restriction during the first three months of pregnancy, abortion in hospitals without restriction during the next three months, and abortion in hospitals following paperwork during the final three months. Justice Harry Blackmun's decision ostensibly refused to declare when human life began, but in practice did exactly that, because hunters do not shoot at an object in the forest if it may be a human being.

The most influential U.S. newspapers all cheered. The New York Times called the decision "a major contribution to the preservation of individual liberties . . . it wisely avoids the quicksand of attempting a judicial pronouncement on when life begins." The St. Louis Post-Dispatch called the decision "remarkable for its common sense" and "its humaneness." The Christian Science Monitor applauded the willingness of seven out of the nine Supremes to "stretch the application of the 14th Amendment." The Des Moines Register said the Court's decision would end "emotion-charged hearings" on abortion.

The Milwaukee Journal declared that "policemen and judges" would no longer have to be concerned with the "distractive" issue. But 36 years later, the supposed distraction continues.

Myths of the abortion lobby

By Marvin Olasky

In 1962 Lucy Freeman dedicated her book The Abortionist to the women who are "maimed, or lose their lives at the hands of the unskilled, unqualified abortionist." In 1965 The New York Times stated that anti-abortion laws condemned women "to a barbaric, primitive, underworld of crude clandestine surgery, where their lives are in danger."

The guesstimate of "a million or more" illegal abortions committed each year, most of them "back-alley abortions," dominated the abortion debate during the 1960s. Illegality purportedly caused the deaths of 5,000 women each year (CBS Reports) or 10,000 (The Association of Women Physicians).

The 5,000-10,000 figure, first published in the 1930s, was probably inaccurate even then, but the advent of antibiotics reduced the maternal death rate enormously. Robert Hall, founder of the pro-abortion Association for the Study of Abortion, acknowledged in 1965 that the number of women dying during abortions could not be more than 500. The real number may have been half that.

Pointing that out should not minimize the tragedy of dead children and troubled moms. Any abortion is psychologically and spiritually hard for all but the most hardened. Having one illegally heightened the tension. Some 250 or 500 maternal deaths is certainly terrible. Still, that is not the wholesale slaughter that the 5,000-10,000 stat suggests.

Besides, while legal abortions are clearly unsafe for unborn children, they are not entirely safe for the mothers either. Thomas Hilgers and Dennis O'Hare found in 1981 that although "maternal deaths due to criminal abortion appear to be decreasing, they have been replaced, almost one for one, by maternal deaths due to legal abortion."

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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