Thursday, June 06, 2013

Jessica Valenti leaves out facts regarding abortions pre-Roe, intentionally deceives The Nation' s readership

Abortion advocate Jessica Valenti has an intentionally deceptive piece in The Nation in which she describes abortions pre-Roe.

She writes,
This isn't even the most dangerous thing that anti-choice organizations go out of their way not to acknowledge. The Pro-Life Action League, for example, insists that before Roe, "there were not many illegal abortions, or illegal abortions were relatively safe." The truth? According to the Guttmacher Institute, abortion was listed as the cause of death for almost 2,700 women in 1930—18 percent of maternal deaths. In 1965, abortion accounted for 17 percent of deaths attributed to pregnancy and childbirth—and those were just the reported cases.
Valenti's information is taken (nearly word for word) from this Guttmacher Institute web page. 

Here's the pertinent paragraph from the Guttmacher Institute (note the highlighted portions which Valenti conveniently leaves out):
One stark indication of the prevalence of illegal abortion was the death toll. 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.
Why does Valenti leave out the specific numbers for the deaths in 1950 and 1965 but keep in the much larger number for the 1930?   

Also note the year.  Why is Valenti discussing 1965 when Roe wasn't decided until 1973?

Is it because there were 39 reported deaths from illegal abortion in 1972 (there were also 24 reported deaths from legal abortion)? 

Now maybe Valenti thinks 39 deaths from illegal abortion vs. 24 deaths from legal abortions in 1972 proves that there were a lot of unsafe illegal abortions pre-Roe and that overturning Roe would lead to large number of illegal abortion deaths.  But if she thinks that, she should actually make that argument instead of trying to deceive The Nation's readers by leaving out facts which are inconvenient to her position and basically prove the argument of the prolifers she's trying to vilify. 

For what it's worth and to show how deceitful Valenti is, here's the Pro-Life Action League web page where Valenti gets her quote from them.  The web page (which isn't linked to or cited in The Nation article) discusses the effect of penicillin in dropping the number of deaths from illegal abortion (just as the Guttmacher Institute does) and notes there were 39 deaths from illegal abortion in 1972. 

1 comment:

  1. I did a more in-depth piece looking at the claim that pre-Roe America was the land of coathanger-impaled women and that we could expect a rerun should Roe fall: