Did “thousands of women” die in “back alley abortions” before Roe v. Wade?

I get into debates about abortion, and sometimes my opponent will complain that if Roe v. Wade were overturned, then thousands of women would die in illegal abortions. Well, if that ever happens to you, this post will help you to know how to respond to it.

First of all, if Roe v. Wade were overturned, then each of the 50 states would pass legislation deciding when abortions would be legal.

Here’s a map taken from the Washington Examiner:

Abortion rights after Roe v. Wade is overturned
Abortion rights after Roe v. Wade is overturned

Red states are more pro-life than blue states in this map. For example, New York is ranked #6, and Tennessee is ranked #45.

So, if a woman did have irresponsible sex with a hot bad boy, then she easily could terminate her child in one of the blue states.

Second, the number thrown around by abortion advocates is not accurate. It’s simply not true that “thousands of women” were dying from poorly-performed abortions when abortion was still illegal. Actually, abortions were performed by trained medical personnel, but it just wasn’t reported to the police.

Here’s a recent article from the radically leftist Washington Post:

Erica Sackin, a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman, directed us to a 2014 policy statement issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG): “It is estimated that before 1973, 1.2 million U.S. women resorted to illegal abortion each year and that unsafe abortions caused as many as 5,000 annual deaths.”

There is no citation in the statement for the estimate of “as many as 5,000 annual deaths,” even though many of the other sentences are carefully documented. None of the citations around this sentence supports the figure, and there is no explanation about how it was calculated.

[…]Meanwhile, Sackin also sent a variety of reports, many of which were referenced in a footnote in a document published by NARAL Pro-Choice America. One of the citations especially caught our eye: Frederick Taussig, “Abortion Spontaneous and Induced: Medical and Social Aspects,” (1936).

Why was a study from 1936 being cited? Because in 1936, we didn’t have antibiotics! People were dying all the time from any kind of surgery – not just abortion.


The advent of antibiotics such as penicillin and improved medical procedures suddenly made abortion less risky. Another prominent researcher, Christopher Tietze, argued in a 1948 paper that the number of deaths from abortion was rapidly declining because of three reasons: contraceptive methods had improved so fewer women were getting pregnant, abortion providers were getting better at avoiding infections, and many lives had been saved because of the introduction of sulfa drugs and penicillin.

[…]The data collected by Tietze showed 2,677 deaths from abortion in 1933, compared with 888 in 1945, with much of the decline in septic cases associated with illegal abortions. (The numbers also include deaths from “therapeutic abortions,” permitted by law, and “spontaneous abortions.”)

By 1959, a leading researcher wrote: “Abortion is no longer a dangerous procedure. This applies not just to therapeutic abortions as performed in hospitals but also to so-called illegal abortions as done by physicians. In 1957, there were only 260 deaths in the whole country attributed to abortions of any kind. In New York City in 1921, there were 144 abortion deaths, in 1951 there were only 15.”

The writer was Mary Steichen Calderone, at the time medical director of Planned Parenthood. She attributed the decline in the mortality rate to antibiotics and the fact that 90 percent of illegal abortions were done by trained physicians.

OK, so abortion advocates cite the study from 1936, which already relies on questionable estimates, because they know that the later numbers are far, far lower – thanks to the widespread use of antibiotics. They’re lying, essentially, because lying helps them to persuade people who think with their feelings, and don’t look too closely at facts.

My third point is simple. Even if women hurt themselves during abortions, that wouldn’t be a reason to legalize abortion. Bank robbers hurt themselves during bank robberies, and drug dealers hurt themselves during drug deals. We do not legalize criminal activities just because criminals get hurt during the commission of those activities. So the real question is, what is the unborn? If the unborn is a living human being, then abortion on demand takes the life of an innocent human being without justification, and should therefore be illegal.

UPDATE: My pro-life friend Nathan sent me a fourth response:

There is a difference today that did not exist in 1973. We have a pro-life movement. We have over 2,000 pregnancy care ministries and clinics operating throughout the continental United States. I highly doubt these clinics will just disappear overnight if abortion became illegal nationwide. Women and children will still be in need, and the free market principles that enable charity to flourish will be there to help.

Given this reality, will proponents of abortion now finally step forward to help provide the support to women necessary so they never have to choose a back alley abortion? Given how they have worked themselves into a panic about rusty coat hangers, it seems they would be the most motivated to do so. The fact many don’t seem to want to do so is telling: They just want to justify their own support for abortion, regardless of whether it helps women or not.

10 thoughts on “Did “thousands of women” die in “back alley abortions” before Roe v. Wade?”

    1. It is not nothing if anyone dies, whether baby or woman. That is not what they are saying here…..
      Even if the numbers were correct… Pregnancy is a natural function in life. If you attempt to end the life of your own child, there will be natural consequences to that un-natural & violent act … Whether you do it yourself or hire someone else to do it….


  1. Bernard Nathanson, a converted abortionist, later admitted that they made up their numbers out of thin air to get Roe in place.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That a Cortez or whatever he name is quote when she was caught wrong on things sums up leftist idea.

    It said something like

    I would rather be morally correct than factually correct.

    And that is the problem they believe their ideas are moral because they said so. And they are allowed to bend truth and reality to fit what they want because it helps their idea of what should be true.

    To a leftist a lie is good if it serves their end goal and they don’t feel bad about lying

    So they can deny reality of life and stats of baby life. Because they want to believe the unborn are not alive

    Liked by 2 people

  3. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, buy stock in Greyhound, because all of the women living in red states who couldn’t keep their legs crossed will be taking the bus to the nearest blue state, where it will still be legal to murder one’s unwanted child.


    1. That’s fine, and I hope that abortion advocates will put as much money into their bus tickets as pro-lifers put into adoption and crisis pregnancy centers. These choices shouldn’t be subsidized by taxpayers.


      1. People drive and fly all over the country to hook up with prople they met online.

        So I agree if they get pregnant and want an abortion they should be able to find a way to an abortion friendly state


  4. I’m beginning to think those that support abortion just support Moloch and their mindset about child sacrifice wouldn’t matter whether it was the law of the land or not.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The pro-aborts’ fake statistics were used to justify legalising abortion on demand in South Africa, back in 1996. The ANC and DA bulldozed the Termination of Pregnancy Bill through Parliament, despite widespread objections.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I walked back alleys before 1973. I never say any rusted coat hangers. Back alley rusted coat hangers are a myth and a clever use of rhetoric.

    Liked by 2 people

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