Back in the 1960’s and early ‘70s, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, among others, pushed hard for the legalization of abortion. One of their tactics was to perpetuate a lie about the abortion mortality rate in America.
Dr. Nathanson served as a co-founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). He presided over 60,000 abortions himself.
By God’s grace, he converted his life to Christ and became a Catholic. He spent his remaining years fighting to undo the legalization of abortion. May God rest his soul.
THE BOLD-FACED LIE
Dr. Nathanson wrote some publications, including a book called Aborting America. Within there he recounts how the lie about the abortion mortality rate began.
“How many deaths were we talking about when abortion was illegal? 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 supposed 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?
“The overriding concern was to get the laws eliminated, and anything within reason that had to be done was permissible” (pg. 193, emphasis added).
WHY IT MATTERS THEY LIED
The argument they used back then is the same the pro-aborts spout today: women will be obtaining abortions whether they are legal or not. Thus, to best protect them, abortion needs to be legalized and regulated.
You can see then the “usefulness” of an inflated abortion mortality rate.
The more women that die from illegal, back alley abortions, the greater the need to hurry up and legalize the butchery.
WHERE DID THE LIE COME FROM?
If you take the time to research it, the lie can be traced back to a publication written by Dr. Frederick J. Taussig… in 1936. Yes, 1936.
He was an early proponent of the the legalization of abortion, thinking it would alleviate socioeconomic stresses for mothers with unplanned pregnancies.
Pro-aborts gravitated to Taussig’s statistic, repeating it over and over decades later. It became so commonplace to hear the stat that it became accepted as fact. No one, especially in the mass media (surprise, surprise), bothered to substantiate it.
HOW DO WE KNOW IT WAS A LIE?
Taussig’s contemporaries, however, severely discredited his calculations. He was shown to be relying on unprovable conjecture.
In fact, Taussig recanted his figure in 1942!
He said the number was unbelievably too high (Grisez, Abortion;: The myths, the realities, and the arguments, pgs. 68 and 226).
Abortion advocate, Dr. Robert E. Hall spoke out in 1967 against people using Taussig’s exaggerated statistic. He wrote, “…[T]he demand for [abortion’s] abolition cannot be based on thirty-year-old mortality statistics” (Abortion;: The myths, the realities, and the arguments, pg. 71).
But such criticisms and Taussig’s own recantation went unnoticed. Facts can’t get in the way of a good story!
SO, WHAT WAS THE TRUTH?
Dr. Nathanson admits the truth was far from the myth he had helped to paint. He reports the US government reported 160 deaths from illegal abortion in 1967. He recalls in 1972 the abortion mortality rate totaled 39 deaths (Aborting America, pg. 193).
In fact, even Dr. Christopher Tietze admitted such statistics from the US government were accurate, within 10%, plus or minus.
Who was Tietze? He was only Planned Parenthood’s leading statistician during that time period. Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion provider.
The number was 39. Not 5,000, or 10,000. Huge difference.
I realize some pro-aborts would claim that even if the figure was 39 and not 10,000, that is still 39 deaths too many. Don’t the deaths of those 39 women justify the legalization of abortion?
We pro-lifers would agree those 39 deaths are tragic and they are 39 too many. So, why not work together to form a society where contemplating an abortion would be out of the question?
Why do we have to settle for the mantra that some women will be procuring abortion, whether they can do so legally or not?
We all agree we don’t want to see women die from an abortion procedure.
So why can’t we all agree to work to eliminate abortion altogether? If they never procure an abortion, they can never die from one.
And let’s not ignore all the babies lives lost to each abortion—whether legal or illegal. If they care so much about saving people from dying, why don’t they work to protect the human lives in the womb?
Thanks be to God, Dr. Nathanson saw the light.
What do you make of the lie perpetuated about the abortion mortality rate in order to bring about the legalization of abortion?
Please share your thoughts below!