When Abortion Was Illegal

“Kathy” was 19 when she got pregnant in 1960. Her parents were ardent Christian Scientists who would have kicked her out of the house if they’d known. Living in San Diego, she chose to cross the border into Tijuana to get an abortion. Her boyfriend, “Bob,” accompanied her.

“They gave me two sleeping pills and a shot of something to put me to sleep,” she said, “but they didn’t take effect until later. I felt everything the doctor did and scared the hell out of Bob because I screamed bloody murder all the way through. I kept trying to tell them I could feel it, and every time I screamed they put a gas mask over my face—oh, it was fun.

“I slept at Bob’s all the rest of the day and had to remove the cotton that was to stop excess bleeding before Bob took me back to my parents’ house. I should have left it in because from that moment I flowed blood clots and have had terrible cramps.

“I had my parents scared out of their wits, too, because I woke up Sunday night screaming because I had cramps so bad and did the same Monday night. I didn’t realize I was screaming until someone came in. “The next afternoon while Bob, Mom, and I were in the kitchen, Mom said, ‘I don’t understand it. Your aunt was in as much pain as you are, but she had an operation.’ Bob walked out of the room with a funny look on his face.

“My sheets and pj’s are covered in blood. In two days I’ve used two big boxes of Kotex. I was never so terrified of anything in my life.”

Kathy was lucky she didn’t die of septicemia. According to the “Our Bodies Our Selves” site, “While there is very little relationship between abortion legality and abortion incidence, there is a strong correlation between abortion legality and abortion safety. Estimates of the number of illegal abortions in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s range from 200,000 to 1.2 million per year. Prior to Roe v. Wade (1973) as many as 5,000 American women died annually as a direct result of unsafe abortions.”

In contrast, according to the LifeNews site, more than 400 women have died as a result of abortion in the United States since 1973. The number of abortions reported to the CDC in 2013 (the latest year for which there are records) was 664,435. The rate was 200 per 1000 live births. The highest number of abortions reported was in 1990, at 1,429,247, with a rate of 345 per 1000 live births.

One obvious reason for this decline is birth control. According to the Planned Parenthood site, “The broad positive impact of birth control on the U.S. economy is one reason why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named family planning, including access to modern contraception, one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.The U.S. and state governments saved $13.6 billion in 2010 and it is estimated that for every $1 invested in family planning programs, federal and state governments save $7.09 in part because of unintended pregnancies that were prevented from publicly supported contraception.”

We can thank Planned Parenthood for that.

Mike Pence, are you listening?