I asked Pedro (not her real name) about her views on abortion the other day. She told me that she supports a woman’s right to choose and that she hopes women will have universal and affordable access to contraceptive medications and technologies. If women had as much as say in their reproductive rights as they should, abortion would be an incredibly rare thing. It would be a choice that women would not have to make. And that’s what puzzles me about anti-abortion (anti-choice) activists. They oppose abortion, but they don’t do anything to make unintended pregnancies a rarity. They stand at corners and protest (because they don’t pray, really), but they don’t talk to girls and young women about the many ways that they can prevent an unwanted/unintended pregnancy. Worse of all, they lie.
Before we go any further, I’m going to have to warn you that the blog post I am going to link to contains some very graphic images, so please exercise some caution if your computer is public or near susceptible persons. The blog post talks about a woman who died in 1989 as a result of sepsis (blood infection) after having an abortion. The main gist of the blog post is that women are dying by the bunches during abortions and that this one death is only the tip of the iceberg. Worst of all, they are using the pictures of the 18 year-old woman to further their agenda:
“Today, the pro-life group Life Dynamics, in cooperation with Operation Rescue and Priests for Life, will release autopsy photos of 18-yr-old Marla Cardamone, who died following a “safe and legal” abortion, along with her 17-to-19-wk-old preborn baby, Christopher Michael, whose photo will also be displayed.”
What’s even worse is that the young woman’s family apparently released the autopsy pictures to show the world “the reality of abortion.”
“The autopsy photos are published with the blessing and encouragement of Marla’s family, who want the world to know that supposedly “safe and legal” abortions kill mothers as well as their children.”
But are women dying at an incredible rate while having abortions?
“Deaths of women associated with complications from abortions for 2009 are being investigated under CDC’s Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System. In 2008, the most recent year for which data were available, 12 women were reported to have died as a result of complications from known legal induced abortions. No reported deaths were associated with known illegal induced abortions.”
Of course, surveillance systems don’t catch all cases of anything. But it is safe to say that there could be fifty times the reported number, and there would still not be as many deaths as deaths from childbirth. But anti-abortion/anti-choice activists won’t tell you this. They won’t tell you that sexual education is sorely lacking. (Guess what? Abstinence-only doesn’t work and is unethical.) They won’t tell you that millions of dollars and other resources are going into passing strict anti-abortion laws when the Supreme Court has already ruled abortion to be legal in this country. That is, anti-abortion/anti-choice activists know they will lose in the courts, but they’re still at it. They’re still at it instead of doing things that are proven to work: proper sexual education and access to contraceptives.
Worst of all, they’re using the same vile tactics that so many denialists use. In this case, it’s the autopsy pictures of a young woman who died from an unfortunate complication during an abortion, a medical procedure. Abortions are not without risk, but neither is childbirth. And there are over 47,000 women a year in the world who will tell you that they would rather have risked the slight possibility of sepsis and death at an American hospital than the incredibly high probability of death and disability from abortions by untrained medical personnel.