By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 12, 2009 ( – When Congressman Chris Smith questioned Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last month over the Obama administration’s commitment to dismantling pro-life laws around the world, Clinton gave an impassioned response for “reproductive rights” that included a description of women in a Brazil hospital she witnessed, “fighting for their lives” after botched abortions.  However, when the National Catholic Register asked for details on the trip, Clinton’s staff refused to substantiate the claimed visit.

“When I think about the suffering that I have seen of women around the world – I’ve been in hospitals in Brazil where half the women were enthusiastically and joyfully greeting their babies, and the other half were fighting for their lives against botched abortions,” Secretary Clinton told Smith in a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing April 22. (See:

Department of State spokeswoman Laura Tischler told the Register yesterday that she was “unable to confirm where or when the trip she referred to in her testimony was – where specifically in Brazil she was visiting or when the trip occurred.”

Tischler said she referred the question to Clinton’s personal staff for a response, but was declined any information to substantiate the visit.

“This is part of a long-standing problem of abortion advocates making unverifiable and/or bogus statements about abortion data and then using the information to try and craft bad policy,” Congressman Smith told the Register. “Pro-abortion activists have a long history of making these type of unsubstantiated claims. That’s how they drive policy – with gross exaggeration of numbers, hyperbole and junk science.”

Smith said it reminded him of the abortion movement before Roe v. Wade, when “the abortion movement earned a terrible reputation for exaggerating maternal mortality while grossly understating the deleterious effects of legal abortion on women both physically and psychologically.”

Smith called to mind the testimony of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a former abortionist and co-founder of NARAL before his conversion to pro-life activism, who confirmed that pro-abortion proponents repeatedly told the media that 10,000 women died from “back-alley abortions” in the U.S. every year.

Nathanson now says the figure was an outright lie drummed up to create sympathy and promote the pro-abortion cause, with the actual figure of deaths from illegal abortions being around 200-250. 

“Repeating the big lie often enough convinces the public,” Nathanson had said.

Smith continued: “Reducing maternal mortality and providing quality health care that ensures the well-being of both mother and baby here and abroad has been a top priority for me over the past three decades. Rather than the cruel ideology that positions mothers against their babies by offering abortion as the solution, we must provide women with real life-affirming solutions like safe blood and assisted childbirth.”

See related coverage:

Secretary of State Clinton Admits Obama will Work to Dismantle Abortion Laws around the World