One of the most prominent arguments that pro-choice individuals and organizations make is that prior to Roe v. Wade most abortions were back alley, morbid, bloody, dangerous procedures and that women for the most part were fleeing to the border, heading to the black market or performing self-induced abortions, which lead to higher rates of deaths.
For instance, in a section entitled Before and After Roe v. Wade, the National Abortion Federation states:
“When abortion was illegal in the U.S., desperate women often paid high fees to obtain abortions, even from unlicensed, untrained practitioners working in frightening, non-sterile conditions. Dangerous medical complications were likely to follow these illegal abortions, resulting in lengthy hospital stays, increased financial and health costs, and a serious drain on hospital maternity resources. Complications from black market abortions were a leading cause of maternal death when abortion was legally prohibited, exacting a huge price from American families.”
This of course paints of very vivid picture of why the right to abortion is needed, right? However, a 1960 article from the American Journal of Public Health stated:
"90% of illegal abortions are being done by physicians. Call them what you will, abortionists, or anything else, they are still physicians, trained as such; … They must do a pretty good job if the death rate is as low as it is… Abortion, whether therapeutic or illegal, is in the main no longer dangerous, because it is being done well by physicians."
This statement did not come from the “skewed findings” of crazy right wing nuts but instead from the then medical director of Planned Parenthood, Dr. Mary Calderone.
Dr. Calderone was noted in major publications such as 50 Most Influential Women in America and America’s 75 Most Important Women. She was also listed in the World Almanac among the 200 Most Influential People in the World. And was the recipient of the Margaret Sanger Award.
Question: Why does Planned Parenthood feel like they need to lie about “back alley abortions”? Is it because without such propaganda people would have to stop and think about what is really going on? Will this in turn lead to a reduction in support of abortion? How many times have we all heard from the pro-choice side that if abortion were made illegal women would resort to “clothes hanger abortions? But clearly the medical director of Planned Parenthood did not feel that way. So why use the clothes hanger stories? Answer: Scare tactics.
“Safe” and “professional” abortions has been the lynch pin for the pro-choice movement from it’s inception but according to Dr. Calderone abortion was already “safe” and “professional”.
Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry goes on and on about how dangerous abortion was before Roe v. Wade but the reality is this: The abortion industry perpetuates a deception about life before legal abortion in order to gain sympathy and support. In short: Scare tactics.
Here is a suggestion for Planned Parenthood: Get your story straight and stop using scare tactics to gain sympathy for your cause. Just say what you mean! If, you really want to keep legal the right for a mother to kill her child then say so. But don’t hide behind lies.