I saw this article (here) written by Ms. Laura Bassett and Mr. Mike Sacks entitled Roe v Wade Still Under Siege, 39 Years Later. The first paragraph sets the tone:
On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court voted to protect a woman's right to have an abortion in the early stages of her pregnancy. Before the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, abortion was banned in two-thirds of states, and an estimated 1.2 million women a year resorted to illegal, often dangerous back-alley abortions.
There is so much wrong in so short a span that it literally hurt me to read it.
Line 1 Claim 1:
The Supreme court voted to protect a woman's right to have an abortion in the early stages of her pregnancy.
Well that is partially accurate. The Supreme Court voted to protect a woman's right to have an abortion through all 9 months of pregnancy when Doe v Bolton's ludicrously broad health exception is taken into consideration, so one can say that abortion rights in early pregnancy are protected as well. Varying stages of pregnancy are certainly not limiting factors as established in Roe/Doe so the phrasing is either deliberately misleading or accidentally ignorant.
Line 2 Claim 2:
Before the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, abortion was banned in two-thirds of states, and an estimated 1.2 million women a year resorted to illegal, often dangerous back-alley abortions.
Oh my. Lets unpack this one a little. The average total number of surgical abortions in the United States for the past several years has hovered at a number similar to 1.2 million. The writers claim an equal number of illegal and often dangerous abortions per year prior to 1973. This claim is all the more remarkable by acknowledging that women had some access to abortion in 1/3 of the states including fairly unfettered access in New York, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii. Understand then that the 1.2 million illegal abortions must be in addition to all of the legally obtained abortions in the 1/3 of the states that the writers acknowledge. That should cause an eyebrow to raise.
Here are links to LTI Blog posts addressing this argument in greater detail. (Scott Klusendorf here, Josh Brahm here) They include 1960 testimony from Mary Calderone, former medical director of Planned Parenthood, that 90% of illegal abortions were performed by competent physicians in legitimate medical facilities. I don't know how the writers define the word "often", but it is clear that the overwhelming majority of illegal abortions defy the seedy back alley imagery fueled by pro-choice advocates. This is all well covered by these two links.
Instead, I want to play what I call The Minimal Interest in Accuracy game. When I am reading a claim like this I try to imagine that I am writing the post in question. Then I say, "If I had even a minimal interest in being accurate I would check out that data. It looks weird." Now since I only have a minimal interest I am not going to spend hours on this so I will just Google something like "Number of illegal abortion in 1972." I immediately find this article at The Guttmacher Institute entitled Lessons from Before Roe and lo' and behold just a few lines in I find the claim that in the 1950's and 60's the estimated number of illegal abortions ranged from 200,000 to 1.2 million. It even talks about a study that extrapolated data from North Carolina to reach a number of 829,000 illegal abortions nationally in 1967. There are no sources, but there are numbers.
Now in the minimal interest game I am pro-choice, so I am not likely to hunt down evidence like Josh Brahm did that acknowledges the inflated figures thrown around by those seeking to legalize abortion and to later protect Roe v Wade, but I am still a little thrown off by the disparity between 200,000 and 1.2 million. So I read a little further down and within a couple of dozen seconds I find this:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in 1972 alone, 130,000 women obtained illegal or self-induced procedures, 39 of whom died.
In the year prior to Roe v Wade, when according to the authors of this article 1.2 million women a year were seeking illegal abortions the data indicates that 130,000 women obtained illegal abortions. According to a pro-choice Planned Parenthood professional 90% of those women obtained their services safely from licensed doctors. The 39 deaths are no less tragic simply because they are fewer than advertised, but it undermines your credibility from the outset when you deliberately mislead your readers as to the pre-Roe environment. In fact, the total number of all abortions in 1973 - after Roe - was 744,600 according to Guttmacher. Given that the number of women seeking illegal abortions must be added to the legal abortions for the total per this article's ridiculous claim, then they are asking us to accept that legalizing abortion dramatically decreased the number of abortions in the neighborhood of 40 - 50%!?
Dialogue is made more productive when those who seek it take a minimal interest in assuring they know what they are talking about. The first two lines of this article tell me all I need to know about these authors. They are either writing about a subject they know nothing about or are deliberately misleading their audience. Either way, I prefer honest informed dialogue.