On October 5, 1927, 31-year-old Auna Arola underwent a criminal abortion in Chicago. She died on October 17. On October 29, Dr. Vincent Tonavena was arrested. He was indicted for felony murder on November 1. Auna's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.
Abortion rights groups will blame the deaths of Minnie and Auna on the legal status of abortion at the time. These activists forget that all surgery, including induced abortion, was riskier in the pre-legalization days. As the 20th century progressed, all maternal mortality, including abortion mortality, fell as medical care improved. Antibiotics and blood transfusions -- along with overall better health due to increasing prosperity -- deserve the credit for falling mortality, which was hardly caused retroactively by the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling striking down all the nation's abortion laws.
|US maternal mortality rates, with Roe vs. Wade marked with vertical line.|
If abortion-rights groups were as concerned with women's lives as they are about the Holy Grail of "access," women could only benefit. If only half of the effort put into investigating and trying to shut down prolife pregnancy help centers were put into investigating and trying to shut down seedy abortion mills, only abortionists would suffer. Women would benefit. Whose side are they really on?
It's time we got real about how little is different between illegal and legal abortion practice: the main difference is how much risk of being shut down or sent to prison the safe-and-legal abortionist faces.