This is all maternal deaths, from abortion, miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, complications of childbirth, and so forth. You can see that the 20th Century got off to a good start, improving maternal health, but that trend would later level off, and then reverse itself temporarily, before taking the downward trend that would continue for the rest of the century.
Let's look at it again, but this time I'll put a vertical line at Roe vs. Wade, so we can see the clear, unmistakable, undeniable, staggering and spectacular impact ready access to safe, legal abortion had on maternal mortality:
For those of you with a faulty sarcasm detector: Roe didn't even amount to a blip on the line.
For those of you who get your information from abortion lobby "fact sheets" this might come as a bit of a shock. You're accustomed to being told things like: "The legalization of induced abortion beginning in the 1960s contributed to an 89% decline in deaths from septic illegal abortions (15) during 1950-1973." (Courtesy, in this case, of the Centers for Disease Control -- for those of you who had any doubts as to their abortion-praising agenda.)
Let's look specifically at abortion mortality, to see the profound and clear and unmistakable impact of legalization. I marked vertical lines at 1970 (when New York and California became the first states to legalize abortion on demand) and 1973 (when Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion on demand nationwide).
If you're having a hard time spotting it, I'll zoom in a bit on abortion deaths since 1960. Note that I marked New York and California's legalization and Roe vs. Wade for you:
The things put forth by abortion advocacy organizations leave you with the impression that improvement in maternal health in general, and abortion mortality in particular, must be due to the ready availability of legal abortion. But if you look at maternal mortality, as we just did, and look at the legalization of abortion, as we just did, you can see that the dramatic and very laudable drop in maternal death in the 20th Century was achieved with no help whatsoever from the abortion lobby.
To whom is credit actually due, if it is not due to abortionists and abortion agitators? Let's look at some factors.
1. At the turn of the century, many maternal deaths were due to one sad factor: inadequate childhood nutrition. Inadequate calcium and vitamin D, especially for city children, caused ricketts. This meant that women who developed ricketts as children had small and/or malformed pelvises. This caused obstructed labor, a major contributor to high maternal mortality. (This problem persists in developing nations.) In the developed West, the problem of obstructed labor has been virtually eliminated, along with most nutritionally-related complications of pregnancy and childbirth. For this, we should thank:
2. The biggest contributors to the reduction in septic deaths were the unglamorous enterprises of sanitation and hygiene. Less trash in the streets meant fewer rats and other vermin, fewer risks of disease. Running water, sewage treatment, and the widespread use of gas and electric stoves and water heaters made the basic healthy hygiene we take for granted available. For this, we should thank:
3. Of course, medical advances played their vital roles. We owe a tremendious debt of gratitude to:
When you reflect on the tremendous advances in public health, especially maternal and neonatal health, of the 20th Century, give credit where credit is due. Remember that it was our fellow citizens, working daily in often thankless and dangerous jobs, who wrought these miracles as much as doctors and medical pioneers. It is thanks to the trash collector, the worker out repairing the electrical lines in bitter weather, the farmer rising before dawn to milk the cows, the stock clerk stacking oranges in the supermarket, that we can so take it for granted that we will survive pregnancy and childbirth, and that our children will outlive their parents. The abortionists and their cheerleaders should learn a little humility.
That's not to say there's not still progress to be made. But we didn't need the abortion lobby to make the stupendous progress that we've made, and nothing they have to offer is likely to help in the future, especially when you consider that the damage abortion can do to a woman's reproductive system increases her risk of complications -- and thus of mortality -- in future pregnancies.
We need to heed the results of mortality studies and take appropriate corrective action -- but these corrective actions will be mostly on a case-by-case basis, of being alert to, and poised to treat, life-threatening complications as they arise. I'd recommend a through check-up for each woman diagnosed pregnant. To avoid offending abortion enthusiasts, we can call the check-ups "initial obstetric examinations" rather than "prenatal check-ups" so as to avoid making the heinous and totally unacceptable presumption that unless the woman says otherwise, she's going to carry to term. These examinations would benefit the woman, regardless of what she chooses to do about the pregnancy, by getting her into the health care delivery system and thus screening for risk factors early on.
Of course, these exams would cost money, and some women are uninsured. A proposal such as John McCain's plan to provide vouchers to purchase health insurance would allow all women to be covered. In the mean time, providers could assist women in getting connected to payment sources they might not be familiar with, or to hook them up with private charities that would help with the expense of the check-up.
And all of this without trying to answer every maternal death with a call for more abortions!