Have you heard the myth that abortion is safer than childbirth? Did you ever stop to think whether it makes sense to claim that an interruption of a natural process, using metal instruments, poisonous drugs, and/or powerful suction machines is somehow good for a person’s health?
On March 2, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a challenge by Texas abortionists to various abortion safety regulations in that state. A central premise of the abortionists’ challenge is that abortion is essential “health care” for pregnant women: Make abortion harder to get, they claim, and women’s health will suffer.
As we document in our friend-of-the-court brief, filed today [Feb. 2], there is plentiful — and disturbing — evidence that abortion is in fact a hazardous procedure.
First, just look at abortion facilities. Do you expect to see an ambulance pulling up at the office of a dentist or general practitioner? Of course not. Yet ambulances frequently are called to carry women away from abortion facilities. How frequently? We don’t know. But the ACLJ amicus brief lists some two or three dozen cases each year, from 2011-2015, of abortion patients being carried off in ambulances across the country. And this is just the tip of the iceberg — just the few cases where someone witnessed the incident and there was a published account. Planned Parenthood itself conceded, the federal appeals court noted in a prior case, that more than 200 women must be hospitalized after abortion each year, in Texas alone!
Second, look at the medical studies. We list various peer-reviewed, published studies documenting that women who have abortions are more likely to be dead within the year, of all causes, then women who give birth. You won’t read that in the newspaper, just like you won’t see reports on the regular ambulance calls.
Our brief makes a particular point of rebutting the phony claim that abortion is safer than childbirth. You can read the details in our amicus brief, available here. Suffice it to say that the data on “maternal mortality” is not designed to show the risk of death from childbirth; hence, comparing that statistic to deaths per abortion, in an effort to evaluate the relative safety of abortion, is total nonsense. (As the federal Centers for Disease Control more delicately phrased it, the two statistics are “conceptually different” and “used . . . for different public health purposes.”)
In Whole Woman’s Health, Texas is defending its efforts to set minimum safety standards for abortion, to protect the women going to abortion facilities. No matter one’s position on abortion as such, at least one should support basic safety requirements. Especially in light of the serious health hazards we document in our brief.
We urge the Supreme Court to affirm the ruling of the Fifth Circuit, the federal appeals court that upheld most of the Texas abortion regulations. A ruling by the Supreme Court is expected in late June.
Walter M. Weber is Senior Litigation Counsel for the ACLJ in the Washington, D.C. office. A highly regarded legal writer, Weber received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and his law degree from Yale Law School. Weber emphasizes First Amendment law and has written briefs in many landmark cases at the Supreme Court including NOW v. Scheidler, Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches School District and Bray v. Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic. Weber has argued more than a dozen times in appeals before federal and state courts. Prior to joining the ACLJ, Weber served as a staff attorney with the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
Used with the permission of the American Center for Law and Justice.