The Numbers Do Lie: Statistics On Abortion Safety Are Inaccurate


Our opposition is forever saying that abortion is “safer than childbirth.” That myth is addressed in length in the League’s Frequently Asked Questions section here.

Among the leading reasons this myth persists is that abortion injuries and fatalities are simply not reported. We don’t know how many women are injured from abortion because people cover it up, so the numbers on face seem to show that abortion is quite safe.

Abortion is not safe. Unfortunately, we can’t accurately tell just how unsafe it is.

Grand Jury Notices Under-Reporting

Damning evidence of the substantial under-reporting of abortion injuries and fatalities is found in the Grand Jury’s report [pdf] about Kermit Gosnell’s disgusting abortion clinic.

The Grand Jury calls the local hospital to task:

State law requires hospitals to report complications from abortions. A decade ago, a Gosnell patient died at HUP [Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania] after a botched abortion, and the hospital apparently filed the necessary report. But the victims kept coming in. At least three other Gosnell patients were brought to Penn facilities for emergency surgery; emergency room personnel said they have treated many others as well. And at least one additional woman was hospitalized there after Gosnell had begun a flagrantly illegal abortion of a 29-week-old fetus. Yet, other than the one initial report, Penn could find not a single case in which it complied with its legal duty to alert authorities to the danger. Not even when a second woman turned up virtually dead. (p. 12-13)

(*Note: Page numbers throughout refer to the pages as numbered by the Grand Jury; add three to get the correct page of the electronic version.)

The Grand Jury identified five instances of women who came in to HUP because of botched abortions. The emergency room staff admitted to having treated “many others.” And yet only one report was ever filed. If only one in five abortion injuries are reported, abortion injuries could be five times higher than the abortion industry reports–or more, because the emergency room staff didn’t bother to count the numerous women they treated from botched abortions!

How Many Women Are Being Injured Each Year?

The National Abortion Federation (obviously biased in favor of making abortion appear safe) claims that 2.5% of women who have abortions have “minor complications” (which “can be handled at the medical office or abortion facility”) and “less than 0.5% have more serious complications that require some additional surgical procedure and/or hospitalization.”

With 1.2 million abortions each year in America, this works out to 30,000 “minor” complications and 6,000 “serious” complications each year. Given the negligence in reporting by the hospitals cited above, conservatively there are likely 150,000 “minor” complications and 30,000 “serious” complications (which includes deaths) from abortion in America each year.

Not that the abortion industry will admit it, of course.

Even the Prosecutor Didn’t Know About the Injuries

The Grand Jury questioned whether the information about malpractice suits against Gosnell was even made available to those whose job it is to prosecute cases. If it is not, they concluded, “it should be.” They continue:

Had Ruiz [the prosecutor] known that Gosnell’s insurers and a State of Pennsylvania insurance fund had paid $1.7 million to five women whose uteruses, cervixes, and bowels he had perforated, he might have viewed Dana Haynes’s [malpractice] case differently. If he had noticed that, in 2007, Gosnell paid $10,000 to settle a civil lawsuit for performing an abortion on a minor without parental consent, Ruiz could have charged Gosnell with a violation of the Abortion Control Act. (p. 257)

But, the Grand Jury observes, none of these complications were recorded or reported properly even within the state. Then these cases, too, are not recorded in any abortion injury statistics that have ever been compiled.

Women Can’t Report Their Injuries

Another reason for under-reporting—at least in Pennsylvania, the Grand Jury tells us—is:

The Pennsylvania Department of Health makes it next to impossible to file a complaint concerning abortion providers. We could find no mention on its website that the department was even responsible for regulating or overseeing abortion clinics. When persistent lawyers, like Semika Shaw’s; and doctors, such as Dr. Hellman, the Medical Examiner from Delaware County, and Dr. Schwarz, Philadelphia’s Health Commissioner, have registered complaints anyway, they have been uniformly ignored.
…[T]he department must also develop an effective, easy, and responsive complaint process. Complaints should be accepted by telephone (a toll-free 800 number should be instituted), online, or in writing – in any manner, that is, in which a citizen might choose to complain. (p. 170)

This suggestion comes as a result of finding that the only complaints the Pennsylvania Department of Health accepted were written, first-person complaints in which the woman waived all right to confidentiality of her records. All other attempts to file complaints (via phone calls or via interested third parties like other doctors were ignored).

The Statistics Do Lie

Seeing this, are we surprised that abortion on the surface seems to be so safe?

Not having accurate statistics on how dangerous something is, is not the same as proving that it’s safe.

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