Since we have no anniversaries today, I will address a death that we don't have a specific date for.
Amidst the coverage of Edith Green's death is a news snippet noting that Dr. James P. A. Nolan was arrested for the criminal abortion death of 18-year-old Lillian McCullough. According to one article, within three hours of Lillian's death, "the police had arrested the physician and Richard A. King, 21, and Mrs. Abbie M. Graham, 37, both of Waltham, as accessories."
One more note: Lillian's abortion was typical of pre-Roe abortions in that it was performed by a physician. According to pre-Roe research, roughly 90% of pre-legalization abortions were performed by doctors. Legalization wouldn't stop these doctors from performing abortions. In fact, logic tells us that they'd preform more abortions, since they could advertise openly rather than depending on word of mouth for referrals.
If, as abortion advocates sometimes argue, pre-legalization abortions were often performed by sub-standard doctors, that means that these quacks would be preforming even more abortions, while remaining quacks. But the fear of being arrested is now gone, reducing the quack's motivation to take care not to injure his patients.
The consequences of this increase in patients and elimination of the fear of being arrested are predictable. There are three abortionists I know of who had clean records -- no patient deaths -- as a criminal abortionist, only to go on to kill two patients in his legal practice. They are Milan Vuitch (Georgianna English and Wilma Harris) and Jesse Ketchum (Margaret Smith and Carole Schaner), and Benjamin Munson (Linda Padfield and Yvonne Mesteth).
So much for the idea that legalization would reduce abortion deaths. In fact, if we look at abortion mortality in the 1940s, while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal deaths from abortion. The death toll fell from 1,407 in 1940, to 744 in 1945, to 263 in 1950. If you look at the points where abortion was legalized in New York and California, and the point where Roe v. Wade was handed down, you see no change in the trend. Most researches attribute the plunge prior to legalization to the development of blood transfusion techniques and the introduction of antibiotics. Legalization, by increasing the overall number of abortions and encouraging more quackery, simply replaced the illegal abortion deaths that would have taken place with legal abortion deaths. Those who advocate legalization purely as a public health measure, therefore, are mistaken in their assumptions.
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