Illegal Abortions Facts

ch 1.23• Will dangerous back-alley abortions return if abortions are forbidden? During a hearing on abortion in 1981, the chart on the right was showed the number of women who died from illegal abortions dropped from 250 in 1956 to 120 in 1966. Although abortion was still illegal in 1966, the rate dropped due to new and better antibiotics, better surgery and the establishment of intensive care units in hospitals. This was in the face of a rising population.
• Did legalizing abortions reduce deaths? In 1972, the year before the U.S. Supreme Court decision which allowed legal abortion on-demand in all fifty states, the death rate for illegal abortions had fallen to 39, with 25 additional deaths by legal abortions. In 1973 there should have been a really sharp drop in women dying, but according to the U.S. Vital Statistics, legalization of abortion did not save almost any women’s lives.
• How did legalizing affect the abortion rate? The pro-abortion claim was 1 million illegal abortions in 1972. With abortions legal without restriction in all states, the total reported for all of 1973 was about 750,000. This climbed to 1.5 million by 1979 and plateaued there.
• How many actual illegal abortions were there? One study quoted in the U.S. Senate debate and written by Dr. T. Hilgers from Creighton University estimated near 100,000 abortions annually in the U.S. prior to legalization.
• Do we know how many abortion-related deaths occur now? No. As exhaustively documented by Mark Crutcher’s book, Lime 5, the CDC seems to have had an ongoing unspoken policy of under reporting and minimizing induced abortion mortality and morbidity and maximizing that of full-term pregnancy. One doctor in Maryland listed the cause of death as “therapeutic misadventure.”