Whether outlawing abortions makes them more or less common (here’s a hint, it’s not less…), one thing is certain. Outlawing abortion does ultimately kill women. But what is even more amazing is the opposition the “pro-life” crowd has to birth control. You want to stop abortion? Prevent unwanted pregnancy. Easiest way to do that? Make birth control cheap and easily available. Yes, I know the nonsense about birth control simply being abortion. Don’t even go there with me.
For years feminists and prochoicers have pointed out that women have abortions whether or not the procedure is legal.
That was true here before Roe v. Wade, and it is true today in countries where abortion is restricted or banned. The difference is that when abortion is legal it is a remarkably safe procedure; when it is illegal, women are injured, women die, children are left motherless. (True, these are already-existing, sinful children, not embryos or fetuses, but still.)
[…] Now comes an article in The Lancet that shows in cold hard data how right we’ve been all along. “Induced Abortion: Estimated Rates and Trends Worldwide,” a study conducted by the World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute, is the first global analysis of abortion incidence since 1995. It finds that rates of abortion (the number of abortions per 1,000 women) are relatively unaffected by whether it is legal. Thus, in South America, where abortion is largely illegal, the rate is 33; in northern America, where it is legal, the rate is 21. “The legal status of abortion doesn’t predict whether abortions occur,” study co-author Gilda Sedgh told me by phone. “It predicts whether they are safe. South Africa liberalized its abortion laws in l997, and maternal deaths from unsafe abortion have plummeted by 90 percent.” Around the world 48 percent of abortions are unsafe–that’s more than 20 million. Some 67,000 women die from unsafe abortions–13 percent of maternal deaths, almost all of them in the developing world, where abortion is mostly restricted or banned. Many times that number are injured or maimed. […]