Father Pavone: No, Abortion Is Not Safer Than Childbirth

Rayen Luna Solar, 27, 33-week pregnant, is seen by her midwife in a routine checkup, in Santiago, on July 13, 2012. In Chile 38 percent of the births are carried out by caesarean section --with up to 60 percent in private hospitals-- the third highest rate in Latin America, following …
CLAUDIO SANTANA/AFP/Getty

The abortion industry has been more successful than many other propaganda groups in making lies take hold in the public imagination through repetition.

Examples include: “It’s not a baby; it’s just a clump of cells.” “Thousands of women died every year from unsafe abortion before Roe v. Wade.” “Abortion is health care.”

Every one of these assertions is demonstrably false.

Yet one of the most pervasive and dangerous lies promulgated by abortionists and their friends in government and the media is that abortion is safer than childbirth.

The lie is so deeply ingrained in the pro-abortion psyche that even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg repeated it during oral arguments earlier this month in an important abortion case from Louisiana.

“Among medical procedures, first-trimester abortion is among the safest – far safer than childbirth,” Ginsburg said, failing to attribute this “fact” to any reliable source – as the abortion advocates have failed to do since Roe v. Wade.

This old – and specious – claim was demolished in the amicus briefs filed for the case of June Medical Services v. Russo.

The American Center for Law and Justice, the American Academy of Medical Ethics, and the American College of Pediatricians submitted a brief in support of a Louisiana law that requires hospital admitting privileges for abortionists.

On page 17 of the 119-page brief, they wrote:

No one expects to see an ambulance pulling away from a dermatology or dental office. Yet ambulances are a not uncommon sight at abortion facilities. This sorry fact is just one of many that belie the abortion industry myth that abortion is safe and routine, even safer than childbirth. As demonstrated below, abortion in fact is a hazardous procedure that all too often results in serious complications. Moreover, the common claim of abortion advocates that abortion is safer than childbirth is based upon incomplete data and flagrantly inapt comparisons. The published medical evidence strongly suggests that abortion is more dangerous, not less, than childbirth.

The brief documents 72 instances of women being taken by ambulance from abortion businesses in 2019 alone. Perhaps that seems a very small number, given the annual carnage caused by legal child-killing, but the brief also notes that the only way the public finds out about abortion injuries is when pro-lifers are outside the facilities to take note.

“There is every reason to believe this list is just the tip of the iceberg,” the brief explains. “The news media do not, as a rule, report on medical emergencies at abortion facilities.”

The names of 10 young women killed by legal abortion in recent years were also included in the brief. Some of these deaths generated a story or two in each woman’s local media, but certainly not the wall-to-wall national coverage that followed the death of Kanye West’s mother after cosmetic surgery. Moms who die from abortion are just the under-reported collateral damage of the killing machine that is legal abortion.

The brief analyzes the ways that the relative “safety” of abortion is compared to childbirth, suggesting that in the end it boils down to which statistics are included and which are omitted. Here’s a sampling of some of these errors, as spelled out in the brief.

  • Abortion deaths are also counted as pregnancy deaths.
  • Abortion death statistics don’t include delayed deaths that can be attributed to abortion, like suicide.
  • Abortion deaths are under-reported, since the collection of abortion data is not mandated, and abortion deaths are routinely attributed to other causes.

The story of Keisha Atkins, mentioned but not detailed in the brief, is a heart-breaking example of an abortion death cover-up.

Keisha died during a second-trimester abortion in New Mexico. She had been in medical distress for more than nine hours before the abortion clinic transferred her to the hospital, and physicians there waited several more hours before taking her to the operating room, where she died.  An autopsy later blamed her death on a pulmonary embolism, a leading cause of maternal mortality. In other words, the autopsy alleged that the pregnancy killed her, not the abortion.

But a string of emails from various hospital personnel questioned the autopsy conclusion, with one physician reporting being “floored” by the assertion. A more realistic cause of death, they said, was sepsis.

By the time Keisha died, her dead daughter had been in her womb for more than 60 hours. This is a known cause of sepsis. The abortion killed Keisha.

To find factual information about abortion deaths, the brief’s authors had to look abroad to studies performed in Finland, Norway, and Denmark, because in this country, pro-abortion researchers funded by pro-abortion foundations perform the bulk of the peer-reviewed studies. The vast majority conclude that abortion is a “safe” procedure. But in the studies from abroad, abortion was not found to be safer than childbirth.

The brief concludes:

Abortion is a procedure fraught with hazards. The notion that abortion is safer than childbirth rests on inapposite comparisons and incomplete data, flies in the face of far more rigorous peer-reviewed studies, and should not be relied upon by this Court for any purposes.

The Supreme Court is expected to release its opinion in the Louisiana case in June. Whether the coronavirus pandemic and the postponement of oral arguments in other cases will come to bear on this timetable is unknown. One can only hope that the justices take their time making their way through briefs like this one that tell the truth about abortion.

Women’s lives depend on it.

Fr. Frank Pavone is National Director of Priests for Life

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