Rolling Stone recently published a piece by Lauren Rankin supposedly “debunking” the “seven most common lies about abortion.” If the rhetoric throughout her article wasn’t enough assurance of Ms. Rankin’s commitment to abortion, a quick Google search will land you on another of her pieces, in which she proclaimed that “being pro-choice is not enough,” and encouraged her readers to join her and “say it loud, say it proud — I support abortion.”
Ms. Rankin’s analysis of what she styles the “blatant lies” of the pro-life movement is not only biased; it is rife with non sequiturs and misinformation. Here are seven errors in her piece:
1. Abortion being “incredibly common” should raise concern about its risks, not a reason to dismiss their possibility.
Abortion advocates often cite the fact that abortion is common as somehow de facto proof that abortion is benign.
Lots of things that are common are unhealthy, dangerous, and have a more-than-trivial impact – for example, smoking, binge drinking, over-eating. Gossip, divorce, and crime are also common. Merely pointing out its prevalence does not prove something is good, good for you, or good for society.
The fact that abortion is common should have us concerned about even the modest increases in risks that it carries. As Dr. John M. Thorp of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine wrote on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, “harms or benefits associated with such a commonly used procedure, even if rather modest, would ripple through a population and have a large impact.”
2. ”Legal” and “safe” are not synonymous.
Throughout her piece, Ms. Rankin writes as if the words “safe” and “legal” are interchangeable, i.e., legal abortion is safe abortion. History disagrees.
Deaths from legal abortion include that of Tonya Reaves, a young mother who died in July 2012 after her legal abortion in a Planned Parenthood clinic. Jennifer Moribelli’s death in February 2013 was the result of a legal abortion performed by Leroy Carhart, (in)famous for his late-term abortion practice. Holly Patterson died three weeks after her 18th birthday in 2003 after a chemical-abortion pill was given to her legally, though with off-label instructions for its use, by Planned Parenthood.
Holly was not the only victim of Planned Parenthood’s dangerous – but legal – chemical-abortion practice. It took multiple deaths and more than the “expected” rates of serious infection, for Planned Parenthood to stop instructing patients such as Holly to use the abortion drug vaginally. According to a 2009 study produced by Planned Parenthood: “Prompted by the deaths that occurred after medical abortion and internal data that show a higher-than-expected rate of serious infection, [Planned Parenthood Federation of America] changed its medical abortion protocol at the end of March 2006.”
While death from abortion is certainly noteworthy, abortion – whether accomplished by an invasive surgical procedure or by taking a combination of potent drugs – carries many other inherent physical risks of harm for women.
Numerous, well-documented studies in peer-reviewed international medical journals have found increased risks after abortion. Even Planned Parenthood’s website acknowledges undisputed risks of immediate complications from abortion, including blood clots, hemorrhage, incomplete abortions, infection, and injury to the cervix and other organs. Abortion can also cause missed ectopic pregnancy, cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest, renal failure, metabolic disorder, or shock. Immediate complications affect approximately ten percent of women undergoing abortions.
History shows that unregulated abortion or unenforced abortion regulations allow substandard clinic conditions to compound these risks.