Frequently Asked Questions

1. Don’t all those illegal abortion deaths just prove how much more dangerous criminal abortion was than safe, legal abortion?
The fact that far more women have died from illegal abortions than from legal abortions — a fact this site does not try to hide — stems from some pretty clear reasons.

First, abortion was simply illegal for far longer than it was illegal. There were hundreds of years during which virtually any woman who sought out an abortion, whether she lived or died, did so outside the law. Thus, virtually regardless of who performed the abortion, or with how much skill and care, the woman’s death would be an illegal abortion death. During the roughly four decades since unfettered legal abortion, virtually any woman who submitted to an abortion did so without stepping outside the law. Thus, virtually regardless of who performed the abortion, and with how little skill and care, the woman’s death would be a legal abortion death. Had abortion been legalized in 1800, far more of the women whose deaths were caused by abortion would have died from legal abortions rather than illegal ones.

Second, public health and medical care improved regardless of abortion’s legal status. The healthy woman having an abortion performed by a person using clean instruments, and who has access to blood transfusions and antibiotics, is of course far more likely to survive than a sick woman having an abortion performed by somebody who used dirty instruments in a time before antibiotics and blood transfusions were available.

For a more detailed look at the impact of legalization on abortion mortality, read “The unmistakable, undeniable, clear impact of legalized abortion on maternal mortality.”
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