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More Abortions, Not Safer Abortions 

The basic facts about illegal abortions (see Part I of this article) illustrate that the claim that legalized abortion will save women from "unsafe abortions" is without merit. The basic flaw in this argument is the false assumption that a change in legal status can make safe a medical act that is inherently unsafe


Society has overlooked the fact that not a single study has ever been published which shows that abortion, for any given reason, actually benefits the physical, emotional, economic, or social health of women.


Indeed, the available evidence shows that abortion is instead associated with a worsening of the physical, emotional, economic, and social well-being of women.   

Legalized abortion has contributed to the feminization of poverty and increased dependency on welfare. Easy access to abortion has made it easier, not harder, for men to abandon their wives and girlfriends.


In addition, women with a history of abortion are more likely to experience breast cancer, infertility, miscarriage, substance abuse, sleep disorders, sexual dysfunction, suicidal impulses, psychiatric hospitalization, and …more.  The only ones receiving any tangible benefit from legalized abortion are not women, but rather, the elitist population controllers. Through the legalization of abortion, they have succeeded in reducing the birth rates among the "lower classes" and racial minorities, which was exactly their goal. 

But the cost to women has been tremendous.  


The exploitation of women is made worse by the fact that abortion center counselors routinely withhold information about risks and alternatives from their patients.


Deceptive business practices, negligence, and even sexual abuse of patients are well documented throughout the abortion industry.  


Kevin Sherlock, author of Victims of Choice, has accurately described the present situation with this memorable comment: "While abortion is legal, it is still practiced with the ethics of the back alley."   

The Cure  

Clearly, the solution to the dangers of illegal abortions cannot be found in making it legal. Abortion is inherently dangerous.   

If society truly wishes to prevent the injuries caused by illegal abortions, the solution [will be] to find better ways to (1) help women faced with problem pregnancies, and (2) prosecute and deter abortionists who perform illegal abortions.   

a. The first step can be accomplished through increased support for problem pregnancy centers and public education. We can and must be able to provide women facing crisis pregnancies with the financial, physical, emotional and spiritual support they need and deserve.  


b. We must also educate the public about the dangers of abortion–both legal and illegal–so that no woman would want an abortion and no truly compassionate person would attempt to recommend or pressure her into having one.

c. And we must create a society where women who are being pressured will know where to turn for the help they need to resist that pressure.  The second step, deterring abortionists, can best be accomplished by passing laws that would allow women who undergo … abortions to sue the abortionist for reckless endangerment. This would also apply to any person or group who referred the woman to the abortionist or supplied her with material or advice with the intent of helping her to perform a self-abortion.

In our model legislation, women exposed to such reckless endangerment would be entitled to a minimum award of $400,000, even if they did not suffer any other injury.  

Admittedly, such a statute would be a significant departure from existing law. Normally, when two people are involved in an illegal transaction, neither one can sue the other for any injuries that result from their illegal activities.


But the problem of … abortions is unique. Women seeking … abortions normally do so either under pressure from other people, or because they are desperate and ignorant of abortion's risks.

Abortionists who take advantage of women in these crisis situations are the real culprits and as such, should be held accountable for their actions.  To stop dangerous abortions, our goal must be to arrest and convict abortionists.

But we won't succeed in this unless we give the women who are the victims of this exploitation the means and the motivation to testify against the abortionists in both criminal and civil liability trials.  

Think about how this simple change in the law would bring an end to … abortions. If any "dissatisfied" customer can show up at an abortionist's door not only with police officers who will press criminal charges again

st the abortionist, but also with a lawyer who will try to seize all the abortionist's property, the abortion trade would stop instantly.  

At first glance, a few people may imagine that such a law might actually encourage criminally-minded women to seek an abortion just for the opportunity to sue the abortionist. But this fear is exactly why no one would be willing to do an illegal [if made so by law] abortion or to assist a woman in performing a self-abortion.  

When any woman, injured or uninjured, can sue abortionists for reckless endangerment, there will no longer be any escape from justice. Faced with civil liability for every abortion they perform or refer for, abortionists will be driven so far underground that women won't be able to find them in the first place.

Conversely, any abortionist who can be found to do an abortion, can also be found to be sued and prosecuted.  In addition, the standard of proof in civil suits is lower than in criminal cases. Even if a prosecutor is unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused actually performed an abortion, it may be easier for a personal injury attorney, using the same evidence, to show that it was more likely than not that the defendant attempted an abortion.  

This reform also makes good common sense. People who perform or encourage … abortions are clearly endangering women's lives. Tough civil liability standards combined with a longer statute of limitations for filing suit (since the woman may be too ashamed to sue for many years) will be far more effective in deterring illegal abortions than merely criminal penalties.  The solution to "unsafe abortions" will never be found in making abortion legal. Instead, the only solution is to make abortionists fully liable for their actions.


[Excerpted from The Post-Abortion Review, Issue 7(4), Winter 1999. Copyright 1999 Elliot Institute, David C. Reardon, Ph.D. This is Part II of a two-part series on illegal abortions. Part I, "The Myth," appeared in the November issue of the Elliot Institute News]