Sen. Dianne Feinstein provided radically inflated statistics on the number of maternal deaths from illegal abortions prior to the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.
While questioning President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, during his Senate confirmation hearings, the California Democrat said:
In the 1950s and ’60s, the two decades before Roe, death from illegal abortions in this country ran between 200,000 to 1.2 million. That’s according to the Guttmacher Institute. So, a lot of women died in that period.
However, as pro-life media LifeSiteNews observed, Feinstein was citing a 2003 analysis from the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights and was launched as an arm of Planned Parenthood. The report states 200,000-1.2 million is the range of number of abortions performed – not maternal deaths related to the abortions.
“Estimates of the number of illegal abortions in the 1950s and 1960s ranged from 200,000 to 1.2 million per year,” Guttmacher states, continuing:
In 1930, abortion was listed as the official cause of death for almost 2,700 women—nearly one-fifth (18%) of maternal deaths recorded in that year. The death toll had declined to just under 1,700 by 1940, and to just over 300 by 1950 (most likely because of the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s, which permitted more effective treatment of the infections that frequently developed after illegal abortion). By 1965, the number of deaths due to illegal abortion had fallen to just under 200, but illegal abortion still accounted for 17% of all deaths attributed to pregnancy and childbirth that year. And these are just the number that were officially reported; the actual number was likely much higher.
The abortion industry typically claims the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade that invented a right to abortion – though none existed in the Constitution – saved many women’s lives, but the notion has been often debunked.
As LifeSiteNews reports, both Dr. Christopher Tietze – former Planned Parenthood and Centers for Disease Control statistician – and former NARAL co-founder Dr. Bernard Nathanson – who is now a pro-life activist – admitted the number of abortion deaths was fabricated by the abortion industry to promote its cause.
Nathanson wrote in his exposé, Aborting America:
How many deaths were we talking about when abortion was illegal? In N.A.R.A.L., 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 suppose 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.
Similarly, Tietze wrote at Scientific Americain 1969:
Some 30 years ago it was judged that such deaths (from illegal abortion) might number 5,000 to 10,000 per year, but this rate even if it was approximately correct at the time, cannot be anywhere near the true rate now. The total number of deaths from all causes among women of reproductive age in the U.S. is not more than about 50,000 per year. The National Center for Health Statistics listed 235 deaths from abortion in 1965. Total mortality from illegal abortions was undoubtedly larger than that figure, but in all likelihood it was under 1,000.
FactCheck.org also reported on former California Sen. Barbara Boxer’s false abortion stats in 2005 as well:
Sen. Boxer claimed that overturning Roe v. Wade would cost the lives of more than 5,000 pregnant women a year. That might have been true before the invention of penicillin and the birth control pill, but it’s not true now. The best evidence indicates that the annual deaths from illegal abortions would number in the hundreds, not thousands.
Boxer made the claim to support her position that the repeal of Roe would be the sort of “extraordinary circumstance” that could justify use of the filibuster to stop the confirmation of a nominee to the Supreme Court.
Mainstream media also seized upon Feinstein’s false statistics.
The Associated Press reported the Democrat had “vastly overstated the number of women believed to have died from illegal abortions in the two decades before the procedure was affirmed as a constitutional right.”
USA Today also reported Feinstein “made a major error” and “dramatically exaggerated the number of women who are estimated to have died from illegal abortion procedures.”
“She meant to cite just the number of illegal procedures, not deaths,” Feinstein spokeswoman Ashley Schapitl reportedly explained.