No, Senator Feinstein, 1.2 Million Women Did Not Die From Illegal Abortions Pre-Roe

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Early Wednesday morning, as the second day of confirmation hearings of Judge Brett Kavanaugh took place, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the pro-abortion Democratic Senator from California, terribly butchered her statistics on abortion.

Senator Feinstein wasted no time moving to the issue of abortion and Roe v. Wade when asking Judge Kavanaugh’s opinion on certain aspects of the 1973 ruling. This comes as no surprise, since Senator Feinstein has received a 100% rating from pro-abortion group NARAL.

Senator Feinstein began the string of abortion questions to Kavanaugh by asking,

Do you agree with Justice O’Connor, that a woman’s right to control her reproductive life impacts her ability to participate equally in the economic and social life of the nation?

Kavanaugh immediately responds with how important it is to understand “the precedent set forth in Roe v. Wade.” Kavanaugh then continues to very carefully explain to Senator Feinstein, the details of what Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey implemented.

During Kavanaugh’s answer, staff members behind Senator Feinstein handed her a piece of paper with information on it. Then Feinstein finally interrupts Kavanaugh to state, “Well, let me give you another rationale…” and continues to completely misquote the Guttmacher Institute in their own statistics,

The Senator clears her throat and says:

In the 1950’s and 60’s, the two decades before Roe, deaths from illegal abortions in this country ran between 200,000 and 1.2 million. That’s according to the Guttmacher Institute. So a lot of women died in that period.

Wait, what? 1.2 million deaths? Let’s fact check this real quick.

Here’s the information from the Guttmacher Institute that Senator Feinstein’s staff most likely referenced when handing her this information. As you can see in the second section on the page labeled “ILLEGAL ABORTIONS WERE COMMON,” the following paragraph states, “Estimates of the number of illegal abortions in the 1950s and 1960s ranged from 200,000 to 1.2 million per year.

However, the issue raised here is that nowhere in that quote does it mention those numbers were deaths. They were merely referencing the amount of illegal abortions taking place.

In the next paragraph, the Guttmacher Institute goes on to state that in the 1930’s the estimated death toll was around 2,700 women who had died from illegal abortions. That number, however, drastically declined due to the introduction of antibiotics. According to the Guttmacher Institutes’ numbers, the number dropped to around 200 deaths from illegal abortions by 1965. Each of these deaths is still a tragedy, but nowhere near the outrageous number that Senator Feinstein misquotes, including as many as 1.2 million deaths.

This legendary tale of women dying in mass quantities due to illegal back-alley abortions has been perpetuated and regurgitated by almost every pro-abortion group, politician, and individual abortion advocates, and has sadly become a devastatingly effective lie. Let’s take a look at how this great myth conflicts with what pro-abortion advocates themselves say.

The late Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who was an abortionist himself and co-founder of the abortion rights group, NARAL, says in his book, Aborting America,

How many deaths were we talking about when abortion was illegal? In NARAL, we generally emphasized the frame 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.

According to an outspoken pro-abortion author Marian Faux in her book, Roe v. Wade, she states,

"An image of tens of thousands of women being maimed or killed each year by illegal abortion was so persuasive a piece of propaganda that the [pro-abortion] movement could be forgiven its failure to double-check the facts."

The book Abortion, by international pro-abortion advocates states, "Those who want the [abortion] law to be liberalized will stress the hazards of illegal abortion and claim that hundreds, or thousands, of women die unnecessarily each year when the actual number is far lower."

Finally, the pro-abortion book Sisterhood is Powerful reads,

"A study made in the 1930s, before the development of antibiotics made even illegal abortion less deadly than it used to be, came up with this number of 10,000 deaths; but it is no longer anywhere near the truth and has no place in any serious discussion of abortion."

As we can see time and again, the lie which has been preserved over the years continues to survive somehow, regardless of the evidence contrary to what is presented by abortion rights groups and individuals.

Senator Feinstein may have received incorrect information from her staff, or perhaps she herself misread the information given to her. I’d like to think it was a simple forgivable mistake, but no matter how sincere it was presented, the facts must be reiterated to kill this back-alley misinformation in its tracks.

No, Senator Feinstein, 1.2 Million Women Did Not Die From Illegal Abortions Pre-Roe
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