Wednesday, July 06, 2005

What's the deal with Boxer?

Senator Barbara Boxer is keening that if a moderate replaces O'Connor on the Supreme Court and overturns Roe, "It means a minimum of 5,000 women a year will die."

Just a rudimentary look around reveals two things:

1. If Roe falls, abortion goes back to the states. It doesn't immediately become uniformly illegal.
2. There's never been a shred of evidence that thousands of women were dying from illegal abortions even in the days before antibiotics and blood transfusions; why would they suddenly start dying now?

I can understand that the average Jane or Joe on the street might not realize these facts. They don't have careers in politics so they can't be expected to understand what overturning Roe would mean. But this woman is a U.S. Senator. She knows politics inside and out, and has a staff of people whose job it is to find facts for her so she doesn't go off half-cocked in public. So one of two things is happening here:

1. She's inadvertently hired an abortion-lobby shill to brief her on abortion issues, and doesn't realize that she's being fed a line of lies.
2. She knows darned well that she's repeating bogus statistics that were discredited by their own originator years ago.

Well, Barbara? Which is it?

Update: I sent Ms. Boxer this email:
The claims of 5,000 - 10,000 maternal deaths from illegal abortion per year in the US originated with a book -- Abortion, Spontaneous and Induced -- published in 1936 by Dr. Frederick Taussig, a leading proponent of legalization of abortion. At a conference in 1942, Taussig himself appologized for using "the wildest estimates" to generate a bogus number, and admitted that they were note even remotely accurate.

Nobody with a shred of credibility puts this number forth any more. Ellen Goodman got taken behind the woodshed for citing it. If you'd like to regain your credibility with any reasonably educated people, I'd recommend that you fire whoever fed you that little tidbit.

The second credibility issue is a little more difficult to resolve. There is simply no way that somebody as intelligent and politically experienced as you are could believe that overturning Roe would completely recriminalize abortion in one fell swoop. So the fact that you are trying to make people believe that this would be the case is hard to explain without making you look very bad indeed. This is a case where you're obviously not getting information from somebody else -- this is clearly a situation where you know better and are nevertheless putting forth a falsehood. There are a lot of people who would love to know why you've chosen to do this. I'm one of them.

You can go here to let Ms. Boxer know how you feel about her lies.

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