Exploring Twelve Common Myths About Legal Abortion - Part I
(In January 1973, the United States Supreme Court made its Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Each January, the National Right to Life and other pro-life organizations have called for a week of prayer and remembrance of unborn babies called Sanctity of Human Life Week, culminating in Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. This Two-Part Series was written and researched by Sheryl Young, RC's Media Outreach Coordinator, in conjunction with that week.)
Part I - The First Six Myths
For the past twenty years or so, a growing mountain of books, testimonies, and scientific facts have unraveled the justification for the legalized assault on unborn life known as Roe v. Wade.
The brilliantly chosen phrase “pro-choice” – which had its inception soon after that 1973 Supreme Court decision – also unleashed the victimization of frightened expectant mothers and an army of predators who have never been truly concerned about the safety or protection of women.
However, it appears that many Christians are still at a loss about how to speak from a pro-life position to people with whom quoting Bible scriptures carries no weight.
If biblical references are rejected, how many of us know enough about this overwhelmingly strong evidence to counter the pro-choice viewpoint? We need solid, statistical – what the secular world calls “logical” – information to influence the hearts of people with other worldviews.
In addition, this must be done while still showing God’s love and understanding to post-abortive women and those considering abortion. This vital information could lighten their load, help them make better choices, change their future, and – by arming more Christians with verbal ammunition against legalized abortion – could save countless babies and change today’s world.
Some of the resources in this article may seem too old to support our pro-life case, but the age of those discoveries only goes to show how long the information has been available and reinforced by newer sources, yet it is still ignored by mainstream media and abortion activists.
MYTH #1: “Legal abortion is safer than ‘back alley’ abortions.”
Abortion advocates claim there were “5,000 to 10,000 deaths per year” from dangerous “back alley” abortions shortly before its legalization. But the real number pales in comparison. Dr. Bernard Nathanson was the creator of the phrase “pro-choice” and founder of the abortion rights group NARAL (now known as Pro-Choice America). After tirelessly working toward legalizing abortion, he began seeing the convincing evidence of humanity in ultrasounds and completely reversed his position by 1980 in favor of life. After this, he continually wrote and spoke from a pro-life viewpoint.
Nathanson admitted in one of his books, Aborting America, that those back alley figures were falsified – pulled out of thin air. The true number was closer to 500 per year. But he said of the falsified numbers, “In our revolution it was a useful figure.”1 From then on until his death in 2011 he worked against abortion, was maligned and slandered by his old comrades to whom he had previously been a hero, was ignored by mainstream press, and gained attention for his pro-life campaign only from conservative news outlets.
See the story of Nathanson’s transformation from pro-choice to pro-life champion at LifeNews.com.
So, is legalized abortion physically safer?
Carol Everett, former owner of several legal abortion clinics, closed her clinics after years of turning a blind eye to the truth. She exposed the safety myth in her book Blood Money: Getting Rich Off a Woman’s Right to Choose (1992, Multnomah). She writes that abortions were performed at her clinics with a high rate of complication. One woman was killed or maimed per month, totaling twelve women per year.2
Everett’s book reveals that hospitals cover for abortionists by listing other reasons for surgery and death. According to research gathered by various foundations including the Elliott Institute, the accidental cutting of a mother’s colon, hemorrhaging, body-wide sepsis, and death are commonplace. A single induced abortion can increase the risk of the mother’s death by as much as 45 percent.3
If abortion advocates really care about “safe legal abortions,” they wouldn’t defend the availability of RU-486 (mifepristone). This pill induces a miscarriage as a means of abortion in the privacy of one’s own home without medical assistance. According to FDA records released under the Freedom of Information Act, as of May 2006 there had been at least 600 nationally documented cases of serious complications and six mothers' deaths in the United States. Seven deaths had been reported in other countries. By 2011, there were a reported 14 maternal deaths and 2,207 adverse effects reported to the FDA.4
That evidence has been ignored, and today we have something even more serious – Plan B “morning after pills” which are available over the counter to be used without a doctor’s guidance, and sold with no questions to girls as young as fourteen or even men who come in asking for it.
MYTH #2: “Abortion must stay legal for rape, incest, and the health of the mother.”
Pro-choice activists would have us believe most women choosing abortion are victims of random violence or abuse by a family member. But in surveys throughout the years of America’s legalized abortion, these incidents generally account for less than two percent of all abortions.5 This means 98 percent of all abortions occur after consensual sexual encounters due to embarrassment, social or family pressure, and inconvenience.
According to a Guttmacher Institute study (a former arm of Planned Parenthood, not affiliated with any religious organization), most women gave the following reasons for their abortion: 6a
• Economic factors.
• Already have other children.
• Don't want the life-changing responsibility of a child.
• Relationship problems
In the decades since legalization, the rate of abortion began increasing among American couples who wanted to choose the sex of their child, but there are now eight states banning abortion for this reason.6b It is still rampant in several other countries (see Myth #11).
Concerning the health of the mother, Dr. Thomas Murphy Goodwin, an obstetrician, wrote in First Things Magazine:
Certain conditions that can be diagnosed in advance are associated with risk of maternal mortality… [he goes on to name several medical conditions]…Taken altogether, abortions performed for these conditions make up a barely calculable fraction of the total abortions performed in the United States, but they are extremely important because they have been used to validate the idea of abortion as a whole.7
Dr. Goodwin has impeccable credentials: Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Southern California's Women's Hospital, and Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the Hospital of the Good Samaritan in Los Angeles.
The number of maternal deaths has not been lowered by legalized abortion, but by modern medical techniques in pre-natal and post-natal care, advanced surgery procedures and improved sanitation practices at childbirth…improved sanitation methods which abortion organizations like Planned Parenthood are constantly fighting in court, saying it will be too hard and expensive for them to implement at their clinics (see more about this in Myth #3).
MYTH #3: “The pro-choice movement protects women.”
The survival of this myth is ironic for several reasons. First, Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers across the country have been found advising minor girls to conceal the names of grown men who impregnate them so the men will not be prosecuted. This is statutory rape – yet on average, 90 percent of these providers are not complying with laws to report sexual predators.8 Planned Parenthood has sued in several states to conceal their records from investigation, and even caused one pro-life lawyer to lose his license for bringing a case against them.9 The question begs asking, is this about protecting women?
Another irony is the phrase “pro-choice” itself: When interviewed, many pro-life pregnancy center counselors and volunteers working with post-abortive women say the remark they’ve heard most is: “I felt I had no choice.” In a survey published by the American Family Association Journal:
• 56% felt pressured by other people or circumstances.
• 84% stated they would have chosen otherwise if different options had been presented.
• 40% were still hoping for other options while at the abortion clinic in a confused state of mind, but didn’t get any (abortion clinics are not required to present other choices in every state).10
In Everett’s Blood Money, she reveals being paid $25.00 for each abortion she sold when she worked for other clinics and was impressed with the amount of money to be made:
“We did not discuss alternatives to abortion. Our counselors were paid generously to sell a product, and that’s what they did.”11
Still today, abortion providers pursue court battles for the right not to show ultrasounds, while bringing cases against pro-life pregnancy centers to force the presentation of abortion as an alternative to birth. In fact, as recently as October 2016, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that it was “constitutional” to force pro-life pregnancy centers to offer abortions as an alternative.12
Poor sanitation at clinics threatens women’s safety
Research shows that abortion clinics have lower sanitation requirements than veterinary hospitals. In a 2003 testimony before the Florida House Subcommittee on Health Standards, Dr. Randy Armstrong, a Tampa obstetrician and gynecologist, stated that he cares for as many as ten women per month with complications from abortions.13
Yet before the same subcommittee, the Florida Chapter of Planned Parenthood along with the National Organization for Women testified against cleanliness legislation.
MYTH #4: “A woman needs an unencumbered chance in life.”
With so few unwanted pregnancies being due to rape or incest, a person’s real choice for their life path – male or female – lies in choosing to say “NO” to sex. But teenagers and single adults experience great peer pressure to have illicit relations. Sex outside of marriage is glorified in movies and on TV where there seem to be no consequences. Our sex educators are liberally trained, directly through the National Education Association, to teach teens to “try sex out to discover who they are.”
One result of this is a trend toward casual sex known as “hooking up” or “friends with benefits” which has been common since at least 2002. Kids from any age starting in middle school through young adulthood are participating. High school and college students are forsaking dating for group activities, after which one member of the group approaches another to “hook up” (have sex with no strings). With condoms being touted in sex education classes as a fail-safe measure this has proven disastrous for pregnancy and disease.
Condoms fail in preventing pregnancy an average 13-18 percent of the time at best, and no existing form of birth control absolutely prevents HIV/AIDS or HPV (Human Papilloma Virus). In particular, HPV can be contracted in areas not covered by a condom, often occurs silently with no symptoms, and is responsible for 90 percent of all cervical cancer cases. Combine casual “hooking up” with reliance on condoms and we have a deadly situation for our young people, and a flourishing abortion industry.
If “hooking up” doesn’t result in unwanted pregnancy, HIV, or HPV, it is also responsible for a person’s inability to form genuine intimate relationships later in life, low self-esteem, feelings of emptiness, depression, and heartbreak. This has been explored in such a wide variety of publications such as Oprah’s O Magazine, TIME, the Boston Globe and assorted science and university studies (see “Other Resources” under Endnotes at the completion of Part II).
MYTH #5: “The pro-life movement condones violence against abortion clinics.”
A main tactic of verbal assault is, ‘if you can’t prove your point or justify your actions, just try to make the other guy look bad.’ Abortion providers and advocates use this myth about violence against abortion clinics to draw attention away from the real violence perpetrated upon women and girls – that is abortion itself and the death of more than (according to National Right to Life’s latest statistics) 55 million unborn babies who had no voice of their own.
Since the legalization of abortion in America, the murders of abortion doctors or workers can be counted on one hand. Although very tragic and we mustn’t minimize or justify it, our opponents make it look like this happens every day with the support of religious conservatives. People must be made aware that Christians don’t condone vigilante violence, and that we believe evil will receive due vengeance from God alone (Romans 12:19).
MYTH #6: “It’s only done in the first few weeks, so it’s just a blob of tissue.”
Many people still think abortion is only done in the first trimester. But a little known case was decided the same day as Roe v. Wade. In the second decision, Doe v. Bolton, the Supreme Court ruled that abortion can be obtained up until the day of delivery, on-demand by any mother for any reason anywhere in the U.S (this is being contended in state-by-state cases and not always allowed).
Abortion after the first trimester cannot be done through a “harmless” suctioning procedure. New methods of abortion were specifically devised to extract full-size babies – and it happens all the time.
Today’s ultrasound technology has just about destroyed the theory that an unborn baby is just a “blob.” Therefore, abortion clinics avidly fight against laws requiring that they show ultrasounds, and their advocates claim the majority of abortions take place through only the twentieth week of gestation (five months). The photo at the upper left of this article (courtesy 123rf.com) shows a fetus at only twelve weeks and the body, head and face are clearly visible. Let’s look at the baby’s development within that period:
• 18-21 days from conception: A beating heart is heard in the womb.
• 40 days: Brain waves are detectable.
• 8-10 weeks: Fully formed tiny body with fingers, toes, and fingerprints are visible.
• 12 weeks: Vocal chords are complete. The brain is fully formed.
• 16 weeks: Five to eight inches tall, the child can grasp with hands and kick with feet.
• 20 weeks: Can hear mother’s voice and possibly survive if born now. Can suck its thumb, squint eyes from light. Sex organs are visible on sonogram. Mother feels movement.
Gianna Jessen didn’t die when her frightened 17-year-old mother got a saline solution abortion at seven and a half months pregnant. This type of abortion removes the amniotic fluid through a tube and replaces it with a toxic salt solution that poisons the baby and burns its skin. The mother goes through labor and, most often, delivers a dead baby. But Gianna was born weighing two pounds and it was soon discovered she would have cerebral palsy the rest of her life. She was adopted by a loving family. Her story is told in Aborted and Lived to Tell About It (Jessica Shaver, Bethany House).
Don’t be fooled – late-term and partial-birth abortions are not “rarely” done for “the mother’s health.” According to the Physicians for Life Organization, as of December 2004, approximately 12,000-17,000 unborn humans between five and nine months gestation were aborted each year. The Center for Disease Control averages between 33 to 46 late-term abortions every day.
Dr. Ron Fitzsimmons, former Executive Director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, admitted as far back as 1997 that partial birth abortion was not a rare occurrence, and that he had “lied through his teeth” (his own words). He estimated that the method was used 3,000 to 5,000 times annually, adding:
In the vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother with a healthy fetus that is 20 weeks or more along.14
By 1996, partial birth abortion was very prevalent. In this gruesome procedure, a viable and sometimes even full-term baby is purposefully turned into breech position (which in a “wanted” pregnancy is always considered dangerous for the mother) and partially delivered. Then, while it is still alive, its head is pierced and drained of its contents in order to remove the entire body.
This is such a heinous practice that several physicians representing PHACT, Physicians' Ad Hoc Coalition for Truth (more than 500 doctors including former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop) wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal in 1996 entitled “Partial Birth Abortion is Bad Medicine” (bolding and breaks are mine):
We are the physicians who, on a daily basis, treat pregnant women and their babies…We can no longer remain silent while abortion activists, the media and even the President continue to repeat false medical claims…Contrary to what abortion activists would have us believe, partial-birth abortion is never medically indicated to protect a woman's health or her fertility. In fact, the opposite is true: The procedure can pose a significant and immediate threat to both the pregnant woman’s health and fertility.15
It took until 2003 for this to be entered into testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives. President George W. Bush signed Congress’ Partial Birth Abortion Ban that same year. Although the Supreme Court upheld that ban, pro-choice groups still attempt to overturn the ban in the name of “women’s rights.”
See Resources below and then Move on to Part II for Myths #7-12.
An earlier version of this article was written by Ms. Young and published in the Florida Baptist Witness Newspaper in 2008. New paragraphs and resources have been added.
1 Trudy Hutchens, “Are Women Better Off After Roe?” Family Voice Magazine, Washington D.C., Concerned Women for America, January 1996, p. 6, from Dr. Bernard Nathanson, Aborting America, Pinnacle Books, 1981.
2 Carol Everett with Jack Shaw, Blood Money: Getting Rich Off a Woman’s Right to Choose, (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Press Books, Questar Publishing) 1992. Back cover quote.
3 The Elliott Institute, Post Abortion Review paper, PO Box 7348, Springfield, IL 62791-7348. Additional and updated material is posted at www.afterabortion.org.
4 RU-486 documentation of complications:
- Jeremy Kryn, “RU-486 Leads to 14 maternal deaths, 2207 adverse effects,” LifeSite News, Sept. 28, 2011 (retrieved 12/22/16).
- Earlier statistics released by FDA in response to a lawful request for records by Concerned Women for America and Judicial Watch under the provisions of 5 U.S.C. § 552, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Posted at Life Issues Institute, Cincinnati OH: “RU-486 has Killed Twelve Women” (retrieved 5/06, no longer available).
5 The Alan Guttmacher Institute, steadily reporting only 1-1.5% of abortions from rape and incest, New York and Washington D.C.. As an example: Jones, Rachel K., Jacqueline E. Darroch, and Stanley K. Henshaw, “Contraceptive Use Among Women Having Abortions in 2000-2001,” Nov./Dec. 2002, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health (34:6), (retrieved 12/22/16). Also summarized from numerous sources by William Robert Johnston, Johnston Archives (retrieved 11/30/07, January 2016 update retrieved 12/20/16).
6a Ibid no. 5, Sept. 2005: “Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions,” Finer, Frohwirth, Dauphinee, Singh and Moore (retrieved 11/30/07, 12/22/16).
6b Ibid no. 5, March 2016: "Banning Abortion for the Purposes of Race and sex Selection" (retrieved 1/3/17).
7 Thomas Murphy Goodwin, M.D., “Medicalizing Abortion Decisions,” New York, NY: First Things Magazine, March 1996, p. 33-36.
8 Mark Crutcher, “Life Dynamics Special Report on Child Predators: The Relationship Between Planned Parenthood, National Abortion Federation and Men Who Abuse Underage Girls,” Life Dynamics: Denton, Texas (retrieved 12/22/16). Also reported in: Steven Ertelt, “Documents Show Abortion Clinic Not Reporting Sexual Abuse,” LifeNews.com May 3, 2012 (retrieved 12/22/16).
-Karla Dial, “Tale of the Tapes,” SBC Life, January 2003, Nashville, TN: The Journal of the Southern Baptist Convention.
9 Ben Johnson, “Phil Kline Lost His License After Prosecuting Planned Parenthood,” LifeSite News, Oct. 29, 2015 (retrieved 12/22/16).
10 -Nancy Pruett, Director of Sav-a-Life of Tupelo, Mississippi, “What is Sanctity of Life Week?” Tupelo, MS: American Family Assn Journal, January 2002 edition.
-Guttmacher Institute, “Induced Abortion in the U.S.: Who Has Abortions?” Sept. 2016 (retrieved 1/5/17).
11 Ibid no. 2, back cover quote.
12 Amy R. Connolly, “Appeals Court Upholds California’s Abortion Education Law,” UPI, Oct 14, 2016 (retrieved 12/22/16).
13Florida House Subcommittee on Health Standards, week of April 10, 2003. As reported by James A. Smith Sr., “Abortion clinic regs pass muster,” Florida Baptist Witness, April 17, 2003, and Associated Press, 4/22/03, to Kaiser Family Foundation.
14 David Stout, “An Abortion Rights Advocate Says He Lied,” New York Times, February 26, 1997, p. A11.
15 Drs. Romer, Smith, Cook and DeCook, “Partial Birth Abortion is Bad Medicine,” New York NY: Wall Street Journal, Sept. 19, 1996. Portions found in Official Record, U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee, March 7, 2003, during re-visiting the Partial Birth Abortion Ban under President Bush.
An earlier version of this article was written by Ms. Young and published in the Florida Baptist Witness Newspaper in 2008. New paragraphs and resources have been added.
Content in blogs does not necessarily represent Ratio Christi’s views. Details