The Washington Post fact checker slammed Planned Parenthood with its worst rating this week for claiming thousands of women died from illegal abortions annually prior to Roe v. Wade.
The abortion chain’s new president, Leana Wen, made the claim repeatedly over the past few months, but it is not true.
“We face a real situation where Roe could be overturned. And we know what will happen, which is that women will die. Thousands of women died every year pre-Roe,” Wen said in March.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) similarly has claimed up to 5,000 women died annually from unsafe abortions prior to 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its infamous abortion case.
But the Washington Post called this “shoddy” data. Its fact checker did not find research to back up these claims. Instead, it found what pro-life advocates have been saying for years: that few women died from abortions in the decade prior to Roe, and a rise in the use of antibiotics appears to be the biggest factor in the drop in maternal deaths, not legalized abortions.
“Wen is a doctor, and the ACOG is made up of doctors. They should know better than to peddle statistics based on data that predates the advent of antibiotics,” the fact checker chided.
It gave Wen four Pinocchios, its biggest “whopper” rating.
According to the report, researchers did find that thousands of women were dying every year in the 1920s and ’30s, but those numbers include miscarriages as well as abortions. After antibiotics grew widely available, however, the number of maternal deaths dropped rapidly, the report noted.
Planned Parenthood medical director Dr. Mary Steichen Calderone wrote in 1959, “Abortion is no longer a dangerous procedure” because of antibiotics. She said almost all illegal abortions were done by trained physicians, not back alley abortionists, as well.
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