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Abortion & "The Back Alley"

There is a worn-out argument that has been used over the years against protecting unborn babies. They say there have always been abortions, and there will always be abortions. If you forbid the legal and "safe" abortions, women will merely return to illegal and "unsafe" abortions.

It seems logical enough on the surface. However, there are no documented studies to prove this claim.

In reality, an actual experience of a major nation when abortion was banned in that nation may be beneficial. Have illegal abortions increased in this nation? Have more women died or more women been injured? The nation to be considered is Poland.

Poland, along with the rest of the Iron Curtain, Eastern European countries, was occupied for 44 years by Russia. Russia legalized state-paid abortion in the first three months of pregnancy. What are the official figures of the numbers of abortions performed annually during those years in Poland?

In 1960, there were 150,400 abortions;

In 1965, 168,600 abortions;

In 1970 – 148,200

1975 – 138,600

1980 – 138,000

1985 – 135,500

By 1990, with the advent of the Solidarity independence movement…the number of abortions had declined to 59,417. This was a spontaneous movement.

During 1993, in their freely elected new parliament, legislation was enacted that restricted abortion to life of the mother, rape or incest.

In 1993, the total number of abortions was 777;

In 1996, there were 559 abortions;

In 1998 – 253.

There had been loud predictions that if the total number of abortions was sharply reduced, the total number of "spontaneous" miscarriages would skyrocket. It was predicted that illegal abortionists would begin an abortion with instruments, and then, when she started to bleed, she would go to the hospital to have her "miscarriage" cleaned up and terminated. If this were true, the total number of miscarriages reported in Poland would have sharply risen. Let’s look at the numbers.

In 1990, when there were still almost 60,000 induced abortions, there were 59,454 miscarriages.

By 1997, with 500 abortions, the total number of miscarriages was 44,185.

This is not the increase that pro-abortion people predicted. Rather, it is a 25% decrease.

Another measure of whether or not illegal abortions were being substituted for legal ones would be the total number of women who died. In Poland, this is listed as a single figure due to "pregnancy, childbirth and confinement".

In 1990, when there were still almost 60,000 abortions, 70 women died;

By 1996, with 559 abortions, 21 women died.

Another possible relevant figure would be the number of neonatal deaths, the deaths of infants per 1000 live births. If there were attempted abortions, then there would be more premature births and more infants dying.

In 1970, 37 babies died per 1000 live births;

In 1980, 25 babies died;

In 1990, 19 babies died;

In 1998, 9.6 babies died.

One other statistic is possibly of some interest. In 1998 the total number of induced abortions in Poland was 253. What were the reasons given for these abortions?

To save the "life and health" of the woman – 199;

For "fetal impairment" – 45;

For rape or incest – 9.

In summary, then, here we have a large nation that, for 4½ decades, had abortion-on-request, paid for by the state. Certainly, the practice of abortion in Poland had become deeply ingrained. Then came independence and a law that took the total number of abortions down to 0.004% of what it had been, contrary to all predictions by government agencies, the media, the UN and Planned Parenthood.

To perhaps everyone’s surprise, there have been 25% fewer miscarriages and 30% fewer women dying compared with what it had been while abortion was legal. In the latest annual report, 21 women died from pregnancy-related problems, with none listed as dying from illegal abortions.

These are firm statistics. The facts above have been annually reported and heatedly discussed by the Polish parliament, its ministries of health, labor, social welfare and education, as well as by mass media, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and anyone else interested in the problem.

If abortions are again forbidden, will illegal abortions take their place?

Certainly in Poland the answer is a resounding no. Of all the former Iron Curtain countries, Poland has become the most rapidly westernized. In balance, it would seem to be a good prototype of what can happen if and when other western nations once again protect their pre-born children from abortion by law.

[excerpts from "Clear Evidence: If Forbidden, Abortion Will Not Return To The Back Alley", by J.C. Willke, M.D., Life Issues Connector, Life Issues Inst. Inc, 4/00]