Lies, damned lies and coathangers (letter)by Dr David van GendNews Weekly
, August 28, 2004
Health Minister Tony Abbott has had a pile of coathangers, symbols of backyard abortion, dumped on him for daring to suggest we limit the killing of half-born premmie babies. Limit any abortions, the coathanger brigade says, and women will die in droves in the backyard, and it's Mr Abbott's fault.
This is hysterical blackmail, and a historical lie: whether women die has nothing to do with whether abortion is illegal.
All gains in maternal safety have been due to medical advances alone, with no detectable benefit from legislative changes. So while 100 women a year died of "backyard" abortion in the decades before antibiotics, the death rate plummeted to only one in 1969, before there was a single "safe, legal" clinic. The law was irrelevant. We still have one death every couple of years, but whether legal or illegal, abortion now carries reduced medical risks to mothers, thanks to medical advances.
This fact matters deeply to public debate, because it must be understood that we can limit abortion in some meaningful way without risking women's lives. So drop the deceitful coathangers, and join a serious discussion on limiting the killing of innocent babies.Dr David van Gend