Friday, March 15, 2019

Planned Parenthood Head Find Cooperative Tool at Dallas TV Station

Evidently WFAA Channel 8 in Dallas doesn't believe in fact checking. They uncritically passed along a claim that was discredited by its own originator clear back in 1942, six years after he'd pulled the numbers pretty much out of thin air.

In "36-year-old Chinese immigrant now leads Planned Parenthood, warns of Roe being overturned," reporter Jason Whitely puffed up the credibility of his source -- as if she is utterly unimpeachable -- while passing utterly bogus alarmism to the public.
“I am deeply concerned about the future of Roe versus Wade,” said Dr. Leana Wen, 36, the new national president of Planned Parenthood.
Wen is a 36-year-old Chinese immigrant, a former emergency room doctor and the first physician to lead Planned Parenthood in almost a half century. 
She spoke with WFAA on a trip to Dallas this week. 
“We face a real situation where Roe could be overturned and if it is overturned then one in three women over reproductive age, which is 25 million women, could be living in states including Texas where they do not have the right to safe, legal abortion and we know what will happen. Women will die. Thousands of women died every year pre-Roe,” Dr. Wen said. 
She took over from Cecile Richards last November after leaving her position as the Commissioner of Health for the City of Baltimore. 
“I saw the crisis in women’s health as the biggest public health crisis of our time. We cannot be in this position where we know what works in public health and we’re rolling back the gains that have been hard fought. And that’s why I’m here,” Dr. Wen said.

An elderly white woman with her pale hair coiffed in a neat up-do, her large eyes looking into the camera
Dr. Mary Calderone
Dr. Wen has absolutely no excuse for claiming thousands of pre-Roe deaths. Planned Parenthood's own erstwhile Medical Director Dr. Mary Calderone dismissed that entire idea based on the most up-to-date and intensive research of the late pre-Roe era.  In "Illegal Abortion as a Public Health Problem," published in the July, 1960 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, Calderone said:

Abortion is no longer a dangerous procedure. This applies not just to therapeutic abortions as performed in hospitals but also to so-called illegal abortions as done by physicians. In 1957 there were only 260 deaths in the whole country attributed to abortions of any kind. In New York City in 1921 there were 144 abortion deaths. In 1951 there were only 15; and, while the abortion death rate was going down so strikingly in that 30-year period, we know what happened to the population and the birth rate. Two corollary factors must be mentioned here: first, chemotherapy and antibiotics have come in, benefiting all surgical procedures as well as abortion. Second, and even more important, the conference estimated that 90 percent of all illegal abortions are presently being done by physicians. Call them what you will, abortionists or anything else, they are still physicians, trained as such; and many of them are in good standing in their communities. They must do a pretty good job if the death rate is as low as it is... abortion, whether therapeutic or illegal, is in the main no longer dangerous.
Planned Parenthood's own Medical Director, after extensive research including a multinational conference hosted by Planned Parenthood, gave no credence to the idea of thousads of women dying from illegal abortions as the 1950s turned into the 1960s. What excuse does the illustrious Dr. Wen have for claiming "thousands" of deaths? Given her credentials it's hard to believe that she's speaking from ignorance. 

And what of the admiring pen of stalwart journalist Jason Whitely? Does he have an excuse for not bothering to check Dr. Wen's almost patently absurd claim before passing it along? Had he merely googled "did thousands of women die from abortions before roe" he would have found something by posted by the Guttmacher Institute (essentially Planned Parenthood's research arm) in 2003: "Lessons from Before Roe: Will Past be Prologue?" Even when trying to get people worked up and alarmed over the presumed bloodbath amongst abortion-minded women, the AGI's  Rachel Benson Gold said:
In 1930, abortion was listed as the official cause of death for almost 2,700 women—nearly one-fifth (18%) of maternal deaths recorded in that year. The death toll had declined to just under 1,700 by 1940, and to just over 300 by 1950 (most likely because of the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s, which permitted more effective treatment of the infections that frequently developed after illegal abortion). By 1965, the number of deaths due to illegal abortion had fallen to just under 200, but illegal abortion still accounted for 17% of all deaths attributed to pregnancy and childbirth that year.
So our journalistic friend needn't have looked far to have found that Dr. Wen's claim was not exactly reality-based. And seriously, the claim that there were thousands of annual deaths from abortion in the years leading up to Roe has been totally debunked for decades now. But, as Bernard Nathanson said, it's a useful number, so despite the fact that it's a load of dingo's kidneys, it gets bandied about anyway.

An old photograph of a balding, middle-aged white man with round wire-rim spectacles and a neatly trimed moustache, wearing a suit with a stiff collar.
Dr. Frederick Taussig
The original source of the 5,000 - 10,000 deaths claim was a book -- Abortion, Spontaneous and Induced -- published in 1936 by Dr. Frederick Taussig, a proponent of legalization of abortion. Taussig calculated an urban abortion rate based on records of a New York City birth control clinic, and a rural abortion rate based on some numbers given to him by some doctors in Iowa. He took a guess at a mortality rate, multiplied by his strangely generated estimate of how many criminal abortions were taking place, and presto! A myth is born!

Even if Taussig's calculations, by some mathematical miracle, had been correct, they still would have been out of date by the end of WWII. Antibiotics and blood transfusions changed the face of medicine. And not only are the Taussig numbers dated, they were never accurate to begin with. At a conference in 1942, Taussig himself appologized for using "the wildest estimates" to generate the number.

Although it took Taussig six years to reject his own faulty calculations, at least he did admit that he'd been wrong. Other abortion enthusiasts lacked Taussig's compunctions. Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of NARAL, admitted that he and his associates knew that the claims of 5,000 to 10,000 criminal abortion deaths were false. They bandied them about anyway, Nathanson confessed, because they were useful. This, too, is old news -- Nathanson came clean 40 years ago.

WFAA TV8 owes its viewers and its online readers an apology. And Jason Whitely needs to learn to use Google and, of course, to stop blindly trusting Planned Parenthood to be an accurate source of information.

Contact WFAA through their website.

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