A lot of talk has been happening lately among anti-abortion groups about overturning Roe V. Wade. Not only that, but a lot of right wing Republican figures have made some pretty downright crazy claims about abortions, in general. Some mistakenly say that legal, modern abortions will lead to things like depression, blindness, breast cancer, and plethora of other health issues. All of these claims are disturbingly erroneous. They also call into question a woman’s right to rule over her own body and make her own choices…but that is a discussion for another article.
What is true are that abortions were once terrifying. Those that seek out abortions that are not legal (or were forced to at one time before abortion was legalized in this country, thanks to Roe V. Wade) truly faced a myriad of health issues and complications during and after the procedure. If you are not aware of the risks our grandmothers and great grandmothers went through when seeking an abortion, listen up. We have a few facts, below, that should serve as quite a wakeup call for those that think modern abortion is a terror. Believe us, it was once a whole lot worse for everyone involved.
Back Alley Abortion Facts and Stats
1. Abortion was not illegal in the United States until the late 1800’s.
2. Despite the fact that abortion was made illegal from this time until 1973, the same number of women each year (over 1 million in some years) continued to seek abortions out, illegally.
3. Illegal abortions (or back alley abortions) include methods performed at home (using coat hangers or sharp feathers, etc. to pierce the uterus or blunt force to the stomach), by medical professionals, albeit illegally, or through attempted herbal methods.
4. Surveys of women visiting birth control clinics in urban areas in the 1920s and 30s showed that between 10 and 35% of them had already had at least one illegal abortion before heading to these sorts of clinics.
5. Even during this time period, if needed, women could seek out abortions for health reasons, ranging from mental inability to raise a child to health risks to the mother during birth.
6. During any of these years, from 5 to 10 thousand American women died each year due to these procedures.
7. Chances are not all deaths or injuries from back alley abortion complications were reported during this time, as many women would have feared social recourse for their actions.
8. Most common causes of death included infection or hemorrhaging after the fact.
9. After these procedures, some women later found it difficult to get pregnant again due to the injuries they had sustained during the illegal procedures.
10. A total of around 40 million abortions occur both legally and illegally around the globe each year.
11. Around the world around 19 million back alley abortions are still performed on an annual basis. Most of these occur in developing countries in Asia or Africa.
12. Patients in these scenarios tend to be around 15-24 years old.
13. In the US, around 40% of teenagers who do get pregnant elect to have abortions.
14. Since 1992, hundreds of legal abortion clinics in the US have actually been bombed by anti-abortionist groups.
15. Of these women, around 69,000 of them are either killed or injured.
Other Facts to Keep in Mind
These statistics can be interpreted in many different ways. Firstly, they are quite scary. The fact that, at one time, even in the US, abortion was illegal and results in injury and death is disturbing. Cases in the past were actually documented where women were found dead in their homes and hotel rooms due to complications with back alley abortions. As you can expect, most of these women were too poor (or afraid) to seek the services of medical professionals who may have been performing abortions illegally. Others, even after seeing professionals, were hospitalized due to complications. Others were also hospitalized for things like drug overdoses when they tried to use certain herbs and/or medications to perform their own abortions.
It seems that some states and government officials are perfectly happy to go back to this time in history before abortion was legal in this country. Some of them are already trying to pass laws that would restrict the rights of women to seek out legal, safer abortions. If these laws are passed, we can only worry that somewhere, someone, a poor woman (who is possibly a mother, a sister, and certainly a daughter) may try to perform an abortion herself.
It is clear that in countries where abortion is legal, or only performed for health reasons, that this is certainly the case. Statistics make it clear that having abortions be illegal does not stop women from seeking them out, or trying to perform the procedure themselves. Even more disturbing, these sorts of laws are more likely to hurt the youngest women. We can assume that many of the women in questions, here, may not have access to medical care as good as in the US. But despite that, even with the best of medical care it is likely that some of them would still die.
We are here to say that even one death or injury from illegal abortion is one too many. Especially when we can help to advocate for more lenient abortion laws in the US, or for legalization of medically performed abortions in other portions of the world. Women should have the right to decide what is best for themselves, their child, and have total control over their bodies. It is a battle that females have fought for centuries. And you would think that, by now, we would have finally won it. However, when one looks around at the current public sentiment, one sees that this is not always the case.
Some politicians, activists, and religious figures should remember that some abortions are carried out due to rape, incest, or other health issues. It is also true that some may seek an abortion because they do not feel ready to deal with a child emotionally, mentally, or financially. For these mothers, an abortion may seem the only logical way out. And it is very true that some of these women would likely seek one whether it was safe or legal or not. They at least have the right to turn to a professional who can safely perform the procedure in an environment where death or complications are less likely to occur later on. Or where an abortion is less likely to be botched and cause hemorrhaging, or even the birth of an unhealthy child.
This seems to be something that many politicians and even pro-life groups simply do not understand. If you would never seek an abortion yourself, simply do not get one. But just because you personally feel that they are wrong does not mean you can judge others for their choices. And it also does not mean that you can abdicate for the freedom of choice to be taken away from others. Instead, be supportive of your fellow woman and you fellow human being. Empower them, as opposed to cutting them down. We hope that the above facts and statistics have equipped you to do just that..