Orwellian NYT Op-Ed Claims 'Pregnancy Kills. Abortion Saves Lives.'
Alabama's abortion law ignited a firestorm of abortion controversy. In the midst of that, The New York Times published an op-ed from a late-term abortionist claiming that "Pregnancy Kills. Abortion Saves Lives." This Orwellian article entirely ignored the central fact of pregnancy and birth — the creation of new life — and instead suggested that the life-giving process of bringing another person into the world is an evil thrust on women, from which abortion alone can save them.
"Pregnancy is a life-threatening condition. Women die from being pregnant. We have known that for thousands of years," wrote Warren M. Hern, director of the Boulder Abortion Clinic in Boulder, Colo., and a specialist in "late-abortion services."
Hern noted that women die from "hemorrhage, infection, pre-eclampsia (which can lead to fatal seizures), obstructed labor, amniotic fluid embolism, thromboembolism, a ruptured uterus, retained placenta, hydatidiform mole, choriocarcinoma and many other causes that fill the obstetrics textbooks. Modern medicine can prevent and treat many, but not all, of these conditions. Some potentially fatal problems cannot be foreseen or prevented."
Chillingly, the abortionist added, "Pregnancy always comes with some irreducible risk of death."
Statisticians measure the risk to a woman's life from pregnancy under the term "maternal mortality ratio." In Alabama, the overall maternal mortality ratio in 2018 was 11.9 per 100,000, Hern noted. Among white women the ratio was 5.6 per 100,000, while among black women it was 27.6 per 100,000. In the U.S. overall, the maternal mortality ratio was 20.7.
The abortionist contrasted this rate with a study in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology on abortion mortality from 1998 through 2010. "For the 16.1 million abortions performed during that time, the overall death rate was 0.7 per 100,000 procedures. The death rate for early-abortion procedures — those that took place within the first eight weeks of pregnancy — was less: 0.3 per 100,000."
Hern nailed down his point: "Pregnancy is dangerous; abortion can be lifesaving."
He then noted the Alabama law's provisions allowing abortion in the case of a "serious health risk" to the mother. "An abortion may be performed if a 'reasonable medical judgment' 'necessitates' that a pregnancy be terminated to 'avert her death or to avert serious risk of substantial physical impairment of a major bodily function.' The definition of a 'major bodily function' is not given, nor is it distinguished from a minor bodily function."
"But pregnancy itself poses a 'serious health risk' — including the risk of dying and losing all bodily functions. A woman’s life and health are at risk from the moment that a pregnancy exists in her body, whether she wants to be pregnant or not," the abortionist argued.
Hern then proceeded to ask whether or not pregnancy itself would count as a "serious health risk" for the mother, knowing that the lawmakers would dismiss this question.
"Perhaps the goal of the Alabama law, in addition to triggering a legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, may be to discourage doctors from even practicing medicine in that state, lest they be accused of performing an illegal abortion and sentenced to prison for the rest of their lives," the abortionist wrote. "Perhaps the vagueness of the law and the confusion is the point. Vagueness and confusion are tools of tyranny."
Perhaps the best response to this comes from the Babylon Bee.
Hern knows full well that most women who die "because pregnancy is dangerous" die in childbirth or in complications from childbirth. Doctors are familiar with the dangers and help women navigate them. Women who are more likely to die are often made aware of the danger and given the option of having an abortion to save their lives. This is the kind of abortion the Alabama law supports. Even so, tragedies do indeed happen.
Yet the key fact absent from the abortionist's essay is the single most important thing about pregnancy: it brings another life into the world. The birthing of human life into the world is dangerous and messy, but it is also wonderful. Abortion, which may save a woman who faces a uniquely dangerous pregnancy, always involves the intentional killing of an unborn baby.
Hern lied in interpreting the Obstetrics & Gynecology study. He wrote that "For the 16.1 million abortions performed during that time, the overall death rate was 0.7 per 100,000 procedures." That number only refers to the mothers of the babies being killed. In actually, the overall death rate was 100,000.7 per 100,000 procedures.
So, the rate of death for pregnancy, the process of bringing another person into the world, is 11.9 per 100,000. In most of those cases, another life comes into the world. The rate of death for abortion, the process of preventing another human person from being born, is 100,000.7 per 100,000. Which is more "dangerous" for human life, overall?
The Alabama bill attempts to limit abortion because the lawmakers believe the witness of the best genetics and fetal development science: an unborn baby has unique human DNA and potential from the moment of conception, and from the very first weeks he or she has a heartbeat and begins to develop as a human being.
Furthermore, the abortionist made the heinous suggestion that the Alabama law is intended to "discourage doctors from even practicing medicine in that state." This kind of reasoning is horrific. Of course Alabama lawmakers want doctors to practice in the state! They want doctors to save the lives of the unborn, as well as those of the mothers.
Hern seems intent to find "tyranny" in the Alabama bill, because he views pregnancy as a scourge to be solved with the "safe" hand of abortion. His nonsensical suggestion that pregnancy itself is enough of a health risk to justify abortion is a red herring, and he knows it. The vast majority of pregnancies are healthy, and the law is clearly designed to allow abortion in the few cases where it becomes clear the pregnancy is dangerous to the mother's life.
Abortionists like Hern may want to scare women about the dangers of pregnancy — and there are indeed dangers — but the miracle of bringing another person into the world is the very reason why every person on this planet is breathing right now. Every mother's death is tragic, and doctors should prevent it by whatever means possible. But just because some mothers die does not make pregnancy and childbirth a terrible scourge on humanity.
And just because some mothers die does not mean all babies should be killed in the womb. Alabama's law balances these situations, and Hern's suggestion that its "vagueness" is a tool of "tyranny" is just as absurd as his Orwellian suggestion that killing the unborn is safer or more "lifesaving" than giving life to the next generation. Nothing about abortion is "safe" for the unborn baby.
Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.