Abortion Has Done Nothing to Advance Women's Freedom

David C. Reardon
Elliot Institute
January 22, 2016
Reproduced with Permission

Today is the 43nd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions. In a Jan. 24, 1973 editorial, The New York Times proclaimed:

The Supreme Court has made a major contribution to the preservation of individual liberties and of free decision-making by its invalidation of state laws inhibiting a woman's right to obtain an abortion in its first three months of pregnancy. hellip;

It has left the decision where it belongs - to the woman and her physician - with the power of the state to interfere, at later stages of pregnancy, governed essentially by considerations of maternal health. The Court has performed a useful historical function by recalling that the spur for the initial adoption of state laws banning abortion nearly a century ago was the great risk of maternal death involved in the surgical procedures then used. Now the risk arises out of perpetuating such archaic statutory prohibitions. The effect of these laws has been to force women, especially the young and the poor, to resort to abortion mills instead of expert hospital care when they are determined not to have an unwanted child.

Forty-three years later, we know that the image that the Times conjured up - of women making autonomous and fully-informed decisions in consultation with knowledgeable and conscientious doctors and receiving "expert hospital care" rather than ending up at seedy abortion mills - has proven to be a mirage .

The truth is that maternal deaths from abortion had already been declining prior to Roe due to advances in medical care and that most illegal abortions were, in fact, performed by physicians . All legalization did was allow more girls and women to be exploited, abused, traumatized, maimed, injured and killed before, during and after abortion.

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