Angela Chininin Buele
When someone argues that legal abortion is needed to save the lives of women who would otherwise self-abort using wire hangers, I wonder why we don’t just outlaw wire hangers. I don’t know if anyone has ever posed this question, but I wonder if the idea would gain any serious consideration. I mean, if the concern is real, then wouldn’t the price of an abortion today (hundreds to thousands of dollars) still lead poor women to self-abort using wire hangers?
Most people blame the illegality of abortion in this country before 1973 for that era’s wire hanger abortion maternal death toll. As an example of what that number might be, the National Center for Health Statistics reported that 235 women died in 1965 due to abortions (self-induced and otherwise). It is heartbreaking that so many women would believe they were in such a hopeless situation, whether they didn’t have support from their families and communities or were afraid to ask them for help, that they would be left in a panic that would lead them to risk their own lives instead of having their children to raise or give in adoption.
But, again, is this all a matter of law? If a woman self-aborts because Planned Parenthood wants to charge her $800 she doesn’t have, who bears the blame if she dies? What about the women who die within a few days after having an abortion not in the back alley but in the front office? How often does that happen, and where does the outrage lie for those women’s deaths?
It has not been possible for me to find statistics that show how many deaths take place as a result of abortion in the United States. The data just doesn’t seem to exist or to be reliable–deaths seem to be ascribed to consequences of abortion rather than to the abortion itself. So I pursued another route. As a result of a lawsuit, the St. Louis Fire Department released information showing that Planned Parenthood’s abortion facility in St. Louis, for instance, called an ambulance 23 times in a seven year period (2009-2016) for hemorrhaging patients. I have no way to follow up on those 23 women to see how they are. But the thought haunts me that, though you may tell me this is rare, this mattered to these 23 women. What if the complications were bad enough to lead to death? If not to one of these 23 women to someone elsewhere in our nation? Wire hanger abortions are not the only abortions that risk and claim women’s lives. They just seem to be the only abortion deaths that some abortion rights advocates want to talk about.
Abortion facilities, filled with people who claim to be focused on the care and protection of women, actively resist higher standards to bring their facilities into compliance with the same standards used to regulate other surgical facilities. When these abortion facilities close instead of updating, some people become angry that the requirements were superfluous in application while exorbitant to implement. This sort of response does not seem to demonstrate a safety first kind of attitude that prioritizes women’s health and safety above their profitability.
An even more basic practice that regularly jeopardizes the safety of patients is cross-contamination that occurs when hands and equipment are not properly cleaned and sterilized between uses. Abortion providers throughout the country have been found in violation of health and sanitation codes. Illinois’ abortion providers alone have quite a record of violations and locations that have not received inspections for well over a decade. Take a look for yourself: http://illinoisrighttolife.org/womens-health-comes-first-a-project-of-illinois-right-to-life/find-your-clinic/
Key Question: Does removing abortion restrictions actually undermine the protection of women?
Unshakable Truth: “Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice, […] But you have eyes and heart only for your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, and for practicing oppression and violence” (Jeremiah 22:13a, 17)
There is a lot of money to be made in abortion. Ironic, isn’t it? The reason many women say they can’t have a child is because of the financial cost. While abortion providers claim they are doing a philanthropic work to aid the poor, they are profiting. They wouldn’t be doing as well if fewer abortions were to take place. And the more they have to spend to update their facility, the less gain they will receive. If abortion providers are thinking about their own gains, how can they see women and children with mercy?
The Real Choice: If you are truly passionate about the safety and protection of women – today’s and tomorrow’s – are you on the side of mercy? If not, Christ can show you how mercy is given. Look to the cross.