WASHINGTON, D.C., September 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Even the mainstream media are calling foul on Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, for dramatically inflating the number of maternal deaths from illegal, pre-Roe v. Wade abortions during her questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
“In the 1950s and ’60s, the two decades before Roe, death from illegal abortions in this country ran between 200,000 to 1.2 million,” Feinstein claimed. “That’s according to the Guttmacher Institute. So a lot of women died in that period.”
Feinstein was citing a 2003 analysis from Guttmacher (a pro-abortion group that began as part of Planned Parenthood), which says 200,000–1.2 million is the range of abortions themselves, not abortion-related deaths, during the relevant period. (It should be noted, though, that every successful abortion results in the death of a tiny but whole, distinct, and living human being.) The piece admits that maternal deaths from these abortions were officially as low as 300 by 1950 and below 200 by 1965, though it suggests the “actual number was likely much higher” due to unreported or misreported cases.
The claim that legalization saved scores of women from dying in back alleys is a popular myth in pro-abortion circles, but has been repeatedly discredited.
Former Planned Parenthood and Centers for Disease Control statistician Dr. Christopher Tietze and NARAL co-founder turned pro-life activist Dr. Bernard Nathanson both admitted that the abortion lobby dramatically exaggerated the number of pre-Roe maternal deaths for political gain, with ex-Planned Parenthood director Mary Calderon estimating in 1960 that 90 percent of illegal abortions were committed by licensed physicians.
Further, to the extent that there was a decline in abortion-related maternal deaths, a 2005 analysis by FactCheck.org concluded that the “best available evidence” showed it began before states began legalizing abortion, and was largely due to the invention of new drugs.
Conservative and pro-life outlets naturally pounced on Feinstein’s misinformation, but so did a few news organizations normally friendlier to the abortion lobby. The Associated Press wrote that the California Democrat “vastly overstated” the actual number, while USA Today’s William Cummings wrote that she “made a major error in her citation.”
Feinstein spokeswoman Ashley Schapitl responded to Cummings by claiming that Feinstein, a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, “meant to cite just the number of illegal procedures, not deaths,” and that the statistic was simply written incorrectly in her prepared question.
One left-wing outlet that initially took the numbers at face value was Vox, which the Washington Examiner’s Becket Adams criticized for “faithfully parrot[ing]” the “absurd and fake abortion stat.” Vox bills itself as an authority that “explains the news.”
“You’d think that a statistic of this magnitude and seriousness would merit at least a ‘whoa!’ or ‘is that true?’ from a supposedly serious news organization,” Adams wrote, yet senior reporter Anna North made “no attempt whatsoever to verify whether Feinstein’s shocking statistic about pre-Roe mortality rates is true.” Vox has since updated the piece to acknowledge the falsehood.
The snafu comes as pro-lifers attempt to discern whether Kavanaugh’s stated respect for Roe’s status as “precedent” or his past remarks on the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist dubbing Roe a “freewheeling judicial creation of unenumerated rights […] not rooted in the nation’s history and tradition” is the more accurate predictor of his position.
Conservatives hope and liberals fear he will provide the long-awaited fifth Supreme Court vote to overturn Roe and let states and Congress to directly decide whether abortion should be legal. Interested readers can follow the Senate Judiciary Committee’s third day of confirmation hearings in real time with C-SPAN’s live video and SCOTUSBlog’s live blog of the highlights.
Feinstein is the Senator who infamously told Catholic judicial nominee Amy Coney Barrett (an early contender for the Supreme Court seat for which Kavanuagh has now been nominated) “the dogma lives loudly within you.”