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RealChoice

Post Roe Practice: Is This an Improvement?

In other sections, we've looked at pre-legalization numbers, the state of abortion practice before legalization, and some of the factors affecting safety in the post-Roe era. Let's take some time now to look at post-Roe abortion practice and ask ourselves, "Is this really an improvement?"

Unwanted Abortions
The problem the pro-choice movement won't admit exists.

We were assured, first of all, that legalization would not increase the number of women subjected to the risks and trauma of abortion. Legalization supposedly would just change the conditions under which abortions were performed. But proponents of legalization knew that this was not true. Evidence from other countries that legalized abortion before we did in the United States is that legalization creates an entirely new clientele for abortionists.

Nancy Howell Lee's ground breaking research found that for the most part, women who sought abortions before legalization were very firm in their decisions. They utterly rejected the pregnancy and wanted no part of it. That's not the situation post-Roe. We find abortions being sold not only to ambivalent women, but to women who are being coerced.

David Reardon's poll of post-abortion women shows only 6% considered their abortion decision very well thought-out. Only 2% thought that they really had all the information they needed to make a decision. Thirty percent said that they were not at all firm in the decision to have the abortion when they went to the facility, and 44% were still looking for other options. Fifty-eight percent said that the mere fact of abortion being legal strongly influenced them.

If we listen to what the women have to say, in their own words, a story comes out very different from the stories told by advocates of abortions. Women's Stories provides links to those words. Let's look at what a few women had to say:

    "I remember the ride, all kinds of thoughts running through my mind, but somehow this seemed to be "the easy way out", It wasn't. I knew when I went in to have the procedure done I didn't want to do it. I cried through the entire thing knowing I wanted to get up and run away, and now I wish I had. ... It was the worst pain physically and mentally, and now each day I live with this haunting me."

    "I did not want to kill my baby, and I feel so guilty now. ... The only person that knew was my boyfriend and he made me feel like I had to kill my baby. He said that if I didn't have the abortion he would tell my mother..and I know that if my mom had known then she would make me have an abortion. ... I feel like my life is empty and I want to get pregnant again."

This isn't a picture of women who were sure that an abortion was really the right thing, and certainly not a picture of women abortion helped. But these are the fortunate ones. For many women, abortion turns into an even greater nightmare. These are the victims of malpractice.

Abortion proponents will argue that every type of medical procedure can be botched by a bad doctor, and this is true. But most medical procedures are at least necessary; the person is undergoing treatment to treat a disease or to heal an injury. And most doctors are competent; they're not quacks. But abortion is different, and abortionists are different.

First, abortion isn't prescribed to treat an illness or injury. Contrary to all the "woman and her doctor" rhetoric, most women who are sold abortions never even see the doctor until they are prepped and in stirrups -- hardly a position for "consultation with her doctor." She's fortunate indeed if he even introduces himself or says more than a few perfunctory words before he starts sticking sharp instruments into her body. Abortion is sold by "counselors," some of whom are paid on a commission basis, to healthy women whose chief complaint is that they are ambivalent and/or frightened.

Guess what? This is normal in early pregnancy. Lynn Johnston's book of cartoons about pregnancy and birth (David, We're Pregnant! 1992) even features a cartoon of a wild-eyed woman putting down the phone and thinking, "It's true! I'm pregnant. And I think my first reaction is panic!" What makes the cartoon funny is how universal the feeling is. A friend of mine who has nine children said that the ninth pregnancy generated just as much panic and uncertainty as the first eight pregnancies had. Every single pregnancy produced panic. Every single child was welcomed with joy. Surely something that's sold unnecessarily to normal women should be held to an even higher standard.

At least the doctor setting a broken bone or installing a pace maker is trying to correct something wrong with the patient, is trying to heal the person and restore him or her to wholeness. The abortionist is at best offering a false solution (after all, an abortion won't make her husband stop beating her, or make her boss more reasonable, or fix her finances). More likely he is cashing in on her normal ambivalence and exploiting her for personal financial gain. He has absolutely no excuse for adding injury to insult.

The Changing Face of Abortion
How abortion practice has changed, and how it's stayed the same.

Practices Before Legalization
What was abortion practice like before legalization?

Pre-Legalization Mortality
Were criminal abortions killing 5,000 to 10,000 American women every year?

Post Roe Practices
Exactly how much change did legalization make?

Safe-n-Legal in the 20th Century
A look at claims of legal abortion's safety.

Abortionists of the 20th Century
Legal, illegal, and quasi-legal.

Dividing the Century
Your gateway to a series of color-coded abortion timelines.

Then there is the simple, unavoidable fact that abortion tends to attract quacks. Further, even doctors that start out with the best of intentions tend to descend into quackery. The results of that quackery are every bit as tragic as the results of a criminal abortion: teenage girls needing hysterectomies, young women left in a vegetative state, children orphaned as their mothers die horrible deaths. Abortion isn't something doctors aspire to. The young medical student may dream of being a cardiologist or a brain surgeon, or pioneering new treatments for spinal cord injuries. Who goes to medical school with dreams of dismembering fetuses all day? At its best, abortion is boring. For that reason alone, entirely aside from its destructiveness, it tends to be where the dregs settle. If you don't believe that abortion attracts quacks, let's look at the cream of the crop: the National Abortion Federation. NAF is a study in Holier-Than-Thou language covering up quackery.

Supposedly safe-n-legal abortion stories rival the pre-legalization "back-alley butcher" tales:

The deplorable, disgusting conditions in some US abortion mills defy belief. Here are some examples from various documents we collected when investigating abortion for Lime 5:

  • El Norte Clinica Medico was inspected after the death of Magdalena Rodriguez. The medical board said that the only staff were the abortionist and his receptionist, Shirley. Shirley "greets patients, explains procedures, obtains the medical consent, and initial intake information... and has no medical training." Shirley did the pregnancy tests and Rh tests and the post-abortion checks on the patients. She would then ask whoever had come with each patient to sit with her. The abortionist served as his own anesthesiologist.
    San Diego County, South Bay Judicial District, California Superior Court Case No. S6003494; San Diego Union-Tribune 12-13-94; Orange County Register 12-15-94; Santa Monica Outlook 12/94

Behind Closed Doors
What the abortion industry hopes you never learn.

Abortion-Industry Refugees
Hear what former abortion workers have to say about modern abortion practice.

What legalization gave us was a bunch of quacks being licensed to sell unnecessary surgery under the guise of medicine. And women have been paying a high price. Browse through Abortion Complications, and Abortion Mortality, and reflect on how much of an improvement these horrors are over the horrors of illegal abortion. The fact is, they are no improvement whatsoever. We are subjecting more women, who are less wary, to the same dangers as before -- and we are no longer set up to punish the men who hurt them. This hardly constitutes a service to women. And it's hardly a boon to public health.

Related Links:

"Confession of an Ex Abortionist"
"More on Illegal Abortion Myths"

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