Terry O'Neill, the president of the National Organization for Women, recently wrote an article for the Huffington Post in which she declared that abortion is “essential health care that saves lives.”
While this immediately sounds counter intuitive, and it is, her article contains several arguments that deserve rebuttal and response.
The headline of her article already contains two major errors.
Women hold up signs during a women's pro-choice rally on Capitol Hill, July 11, 2013 in Washington, DC. The rally was hosted by Planned Parenthood Federation of America to urge Congress against passing any legislation to limit access to safe and legal abortion. Credit: Getty Images
First, the word essential means that it is of the utmost importance or absolutely necessary. Abortion is neither of those in the vast, vast majority of the times it is used. The only circumstance in which you could make that argument is if the health of the mother is in imminent danger, which is a fairly rare occurrence. Concern for maternal health was cited as the top reason for an abortion in only 4 percent of the cases – not exactly what I would call essential.
Second, she claims that abortion “saves lives.” This notion is utterly preposterous. The very purpose of an abortion is to end life. While 4 percent of abortions may possibly save the mother's life, and even that number is far too high, 100 percent of them kill the life inside of her. Abortions do not save lives, they end them.
Terry's main argument throughout the piece is that we need more access to abortion in order to “prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality” as well as “another tragedy – maternal death.”
She starts the piece with a stat that every year, one million infants die on the very day that they are born, including 11,300 in the United States alone. To drive the point home about how many that is, she breaks it down to 30 infant deaths each and every day here in America.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.
While she does her best to portray this number as extremely high, it pales in comparison to the number of babies who are killed in the womb from abortion. According to the National Abortion Federation, there are about 1.3 million abortions performed in America every year.
While it takes a full day to reach the tragic number of 30 infant deaths, it only takes 12 minutes to reach the same number of abortions. Planned Parenthood alone reaches that number in just over 47 minutes.
The main reason for such a high number of first-day infant deaths, according to Save the Children, is premature births. The United States has one of the highest rates, 12.5 percent, of premature births in the industrialized world. According to Terry, this high rate can be “directly linked to our failure to provide adequate contraception and abortion care.”
Premature births are mainly caused by infection, issues from previous surgeries or complications due to genetics. Terry's argument seems to be that because premature births cause so many first-day infant deaths, we should have more abortions to decrease the number of preterm babies.
A newborn baby holds his mother's hand at the intensive care unit. (AP Photo)
Her argument, simply put, is that in order to prevent babies from dying, we should prevent them from being born.
Only a quarter of a percent of the babies born in America die in their first day. That means that 99.75 percent of the children born make it past that first day. Terry would like to increase abortions, which have a 100 percent kill rate, in order to avoid the tiny chance that a baby would die that first day. Substitute 100 percent chance of death for the baby in order to avoid a 0.26 percent chance.
Maternal death is the other major reason she wants to increase access to abortions. Terry confidently states, without any evidence or argument, that “as more states like Texas and North Carolina restrict access to abortion care, more women are dying in childbirth or pregnancy.”
Much like her argument revolving around infant deaths, she would like to increase access to something that kills the baby 100 percent of the time in order to avoid the chance of the mother dying during childbirth, which happens only 0.02 percent of the time, and I had to round up just to get to that.
But let's look at that argument. She emphatically declares that as abortion access diminishes, maternal death rates rise as a direct result. This has no evidence to back it up and the numbers that she uses from the Lancet study actually show a possible opposite relationship.
Evelyn Steadman, 7-months old, sleeps on the chest of her grandmother, Kathleen Jones, at the baby's home in Crete, Ill. on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Jones, 52, is a longtime volunteer who cuddles newborn babies in the neonatal intensive care unit at the University of Chicago's Comer Children's Hospital. In August 2013 after Evelyn was born with brain damage due to a virus, she ended up in Comer's neonatal intensive care unit and, in addition to many family members, ended up being cuddled by volunteers also. Research shows that cuddling helps calm the babies, many who are born prematurely or who have serious health issues, and aids in their early development. The family says they have little doubt the extra cuddling helped Evelyn. (AP/Martha Irvine)
France, Ireland, Great Britain, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Poland, Iceland, Malta, Japan, and Portugal, just to name a bunch, all have more restrictive abortion laws that we do. Yet their maternal death rates are all far lower than ours with an average of 5.3 deaths out of 100,000 as compared to our 18.5.
Her argument that open and unfettered access to abortions will somehow save more mothers is completely unfounded.
Her overall concern is directed mostly to teen mothers who “tend to be poorer, less educated and receive less prenatal care than older women.” These teen mothers are the target group that she believes should have easier access to and perhaps even be encouraged to have an abortion.
What she doesn't include in that list is that teen mothers also tend to be overwhelmingly minority. According to the CDC, 57 percent of teen births in America are by black or Hispanic youth. These are the women that Terry O'Neill would like to have more abortions and fewer babies according to her own logic and argument.
If you are aware of eugenics and Margaret Sanger, then this kind of thinking should sound familiar. Sanger's own words sound eerily familiar [emphasis added]:
“The example of the inferior classes, the fertility of the feeble-minded, the mentally defective, the poverty-stricken, should not be held up for emulation to the mentally and physically fit...On the contrary, the most urgent problem to-day is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.”
“Birth Control has been accepted by the most clear thinking and far seeing of the Eugenists themselves as the most constructive and necessary of the means to racial health.”
Were I a less scrupulous writer, I would accuse Terry of racism and claimed that she is trying to wipe out the minority race, but thank goodness I'm not.
Increasing the number of abortions is not the way to help more babies survive their first day or their first month. In fact, it is one of the only ways to guarantee that they never see that first day or experience that first month.
You don't decrease infant mortality rates by decreasing the number of infants. You get better and more affordable care to them and encourage, not just educate, young girls to make better decisions.
I will continue to fight for the rights of the unique human lives inside of the womb who have no voice themselves. No matter what you want to call abortion, even abortion care, is it not the path to a healthier society.
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