Sunday 17 June 2012

How many women really died from abortions prior to the Abortion Act?

A common argument from the pro-choice lobby is that legalising abortion in 1968 saved thousands of women who would have otherwise died from back-street abortions.

Before 1968, it is contended, women with unwanted pregnancies who did not want to have their babies had no choice but to seek the help of amateur ‘back-street’ abortionists who carried out their procedures with coat-hangers or other similarly inappropriate ‘instruments’. The result was that women often developed infections and died.

Once abortion was legalised in 1968 women could then obtain abortions that were not only ‘legal’ but also safe.

The argument is that any move to restrict abortion now would drive women back into the hands of backstreet abortionists leading again to thousands of deaths.

The reality is much more complex than that. But you have to look at the actual evidence to understand what really happened.

First, maternal mortality from all causes, including abortion fell dramatically long before abortion was legalised as a result of better medical care.

Second, many so called ‘back-street abortions were actually carried out ‘illegally’ by ‘skilled professional’ nurses and doctors using surgical instruments in sterile conditions.

Third, legalising abortion did not eliminate all maternal deaths, as some women now began to die of legal abortions, and in addition there was still a trickle of illegal abortions.

However since 1968 all abortion deaths in Britain have fallen to almost zero.

The two slides I have used in this blog have been taken from a presentation on maternal mortality by Professor Owen Drife of the University of Leeds and can be viewed online.

The first slide (above)shows the dramatic drop in maternal deaths from all causes that happened long before the legalisation of abortion in 1968. This fall was clearly not due to legalising abortion.

The second slide (left) shows deaths from legal abortion, illegal abortion and miscarriage since 1952 (the first slide starts at 1935 so this second slide covers only the last part of this period after rates had already fallen dramatically).

In the years 1952-4 there were just over 50 women dying per million maternities from illegal abortion. As there were far less than a million maternities per year in 1952 (there are only 700,000 births a year now) this means that the actual number of women dying from abortion per year would have been even less than 50.

In the three years around legalisation (1967-1969) this had fallen to 30 deaths per million maternities but we were also starting to see deaths from legal abortions.

In the three years after this (1970-1972) the death rate from illegal abortions was about 15 per million maternities falling to 5 per million maternities in 1973-1975.

But the striking point through this six year period is that as many women were dying from legal abortions as from illegal abortions.

From 1976 on deaths from both legal and illegal abortions fell to almost negligible levels. But in each case this was due not to the legalisation of abortion but to improving standards of medical care.

A similar pattern has been observed in all developed countries. US statistics can also be viewed online.

The chart shown was used on the floor of the US Senate during the tumultuous debate on abortion in 1981. It was compiled from official US statistics and was not challenged by the pro-abortion lobbyists.

The early sharp drop occurred largely because penicillin became available. Note that after Penicillin became available to control infections, the number of deaths stabilized during the 1950s at about 250/year but by 1966, with abortion still illegal in all states, the number of deaths had dropped steadily to half that number.

In 1973 there should have been a sharp drop in women dying as abortion was made legal that year following the Roe vs Wade Supreme Court judgement. The chart, however, shows that there was no such drop.

The line didn’t even blip. The previous rate of decline actually slowed, to flatten out in the late 70s and 80s. According to the US statistics legalisation of abortion hardly saved any women’s lives at all.

But of course what legalised abortion did do throughout the Western world was to increase dramatically the number of babies being aborted.

There are now 1.3 million abortions a year in the US and over 200,000 a year in the UK. But these are only a fraction of the total of 42 million carried out annually.

In each of these abortions a human death occurs, that is a baby dies.

In fact abortion is the leading cause of human death worldwide by some margin. In fact only 57 million people die each year from every cause other than abortion combined!

Unless you take the view that babies before birth are not human beings with rights then that must make abortion one of the most important human rights issues in the world.


  1. I don't understand the sentence "But of course what legalised abortion did do throughout the Western world was to increase dramatically the number of babies."

    1. Oh dear. That's because it doesn't actually make sense. It should say 'babies being aborted'. My error. Have corrected.

    2. And you need something inserting or deleting here!:
      "The line didn’t even blip. The previous rate of decline actually slowed, to flatten out in the late 70s and 80s. According to the US statistics legalisation of ...... hardly saved any women’s lives at all."

  2. Very interesting - what you write has been confirmed by Dr Nathanson in the US.
    Gynaecologist Nathanson was a key person involved in legalising abortion in the US. He supervised the largest abortion clinic in the world in the early 1970s in New York City. In the first year, this Center performed more than 60,000 abortions. Dr Nathanson became deeply troubled by the insight that he had presided over 60,000 deaths and changed his position to being anti-abortion.

    Dr Bernard Nathanson was very open on how the abortion movement started with lies: “We fed the public a line of deceit, dishonesty, a fabrication of statistics and figures. We succeeded [in breaking down the laws limiting abortions] because the time was right and the news media co-operated. We sensationalized the effects of illegal abortions and fabricated polls, which indicated that 85% of the public favoured unrestricted abortion, when we knew it was only 5%. We unashamedly lied, and yet our statements were quoted [by the media] as though they had been written in law.
    There was only silence from the opposition. We fed a line of deceit, of dishonesty, of fabrication of statistics and figures; we coddled, caressed, and stroked the press. (…) We were calling ourselves pro-abortionists and pro-choice. In fact what we were was abortifiers: those who like abortion.'
    The discussion … has been muddied by a resort to a particularly vicious brand of anti-Catholicism, as many of you know, in the press. There have been ongoing attempts to paint this movement [the pro-life movement] as a Catholic movement, and there have been almost heartbreaking lies and libel in the press on this score. If you ever substituted for the word Catholic, in many of these publications, the word Jewish of black, you would be immediately castigated. The press would destroy you. However, because the word Catholic is used, it appears to be allowable.
    Why did I change my mind? Well, to begin with, it was not from a religious conviction … I am an atheist … In any case, the change of mind began with the realization, the inescapable reality, that the foetus, that embryo, is a person, is a protectable human life. The change also began on the basis of my own secular belief in the golden rule: if you would not have your own life taken away from you, you must not take someone else’s life.” (Dr Nathanson is quoted in John Powell, Abortion: The Silent Holocaust, 1981.)

    and, regarding maternal mortality - The statistics of maternal mortality due to self-induced abortion were grossly exaggerated. Dr Nathanson writes, ‘How many deaths were we talking about when abortion was illegal? In NARAL (National Association for Repeal of Abortion Laws) we generally emphasized the drama of the individual case, not the mass statistics, but when we spoke of the latter it was always 5,000 to 10,000 a year. I confess that I knew the figures were totally false, but in the “morality” of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics?’ The official figure of maternal death due to illegal abortion before abortion was legalised was 160. Dr Nathanson estimates the actual figure to be around 500 maternal deaths per year, similar to the figures Dr Saunders has unearthed.
    (quotes from Bernard Nathanson, Richard Ostling, Aborting America, Pinnacle Books, New York, 1979)

  3. Science and statistics can be manouvred to "prove" most things.
    But,I'm sorry, no person already born is a "vessel" for anybody's will, even God's, unless they choose to be. And it is for god alone to judge their choices.
    Choices that must be made without coercion of any sort.
    If we are looking, as I suspect, at US and UK figures, the improved maternal survival rates are surely down to advances in medical care AFTER the event, whether legal or not. Figures from less developed countries would almost certsainly show a large difference between the survival rates of rich women post termination, and their poorer sisters, legality aside.
    So the figures are neutral and prove nothing except superior medical care in rich countries.
    What science, and it's statistics DO show however, is that pregnancy, and birth, are many times more risky than terminations.
    So let's allow the individual, to decide whether it's a risk worth taking.
    And put the false construct which is "morals" aside for a more humane one called ethics.

    1. Can you give me any referenced data to back up these claims?

    2. You should learn to use Google Peter ;) I have done it for you this time:

      Reuters: Abortion safer than giving birth - Researchers found that women were about 14 times more likely to die during or after giving birth to a live baby than to die from complications of an abortion.

      The article itself links to this page - I didn't see any reference there to the study, but as it was 5 months ago it has probably been archived by now.

    3. Dear redvelv,
      Clearly you did not see the link at the end of Dr. Saunders' blog: 'abortion is the leading cause of death worldwide' by some margin. In 1967, when abortion was legalized in the UK, I was a second year student nurse. T I heard no public protests. Neither I, nor my peers, ever discussed the morality of abortion. It was just there and, like obedient little automatons, we cooperated. I did my clinicals in a 1000 bed hospital, the largest in London. We circulated through ob/gyn wards, the ER and the OR. Every weekend from morning to night, we witnessed surgical abortions; in the ER, or on the wards, we cared for women coming in from street abortions. Only one patient, with a low-grade fever, ever exhibited complications from a street abortion. She recovered and went home. After care was very available. There were public health clinics with licensed nurse-midwives and anyone could drop in to their doctor's office. MD home visits were also still commonplace. After care is a serious issue, in countries where medical follow up is scant and costly and where women have been given abortifacients, often under coercion by family members.
      "Safe, legal and rare" abortion in the U.S. is a delusion. Many deaths of women, during or following an abortion procedure, have been documented. 378 are listed on the site There are reports, that the CDC has been less than forthcoming, in acknowledging and reporting abortion deaths. In China, women and their families, are brutalized if they are discovered to be pregnant without permission. A 13 month old was just run over because he did not have government permission to be born.
      200 million baby girls (along with the children and granchildren they would have had), are missing from the world because of gendercide abortion. Therefore, any rights that women have gained, will soon disappear when, as in China, there will be a surplus of men.
      Women who still support their dubious personal rights, while denying the rights of sisters in other countries, can only be described as sociopathic.

  4. Also, the survival rate from "illegal" terminations WAS significantly different between poor women seeking care from the local "midwife" and unable to access after care in the event of complications through fear of sanction.
    And her more prosperous sister, who had no such concerns.
    And THAT was why the 1967 was brought into law.

  5. "No person already born is a "vessel" for anybody's will" says redvelvetshoes. However, such a right to freedom cannot exist as an absolute unless one has the absolute right to life. There are no human rights without the right to be human. Also, the distinction between "morals" and "ethics" is false unless by "morals" is meant "religious morals". The attempt to construct ethics without reference to cultural tradition and history which includes as a necessity the Judaeo-Christian worldview) is one of the great failures of the modern world.

    1. "There are no human rights without the right to be human."

      Yes, but don't confuse an embryo or foetus with that of a child. Before birth there is no human there.

      wrt Ethics and Morals: The very fact that you think I cannot have morals (as I am not religious) is absurd. Also, the fact that you think morals cannot exist without your sky buddy says rather a lot more about what sort of a person you would be without your little black book of horror stories that I am since I rejected it.

    2. You have missed the point. There must be a right to be human - that means the right to be born. if you have no right to be born what other right can you claim except by having the loudest voice or the most threatening weapon? The humanity of the fetus or embryo is only debated by some. Very recent studies done by an American (I can get the reference) produced, in answer to a question, the answer "We will have to say the that fetus is human" It seems strange that you would apparently reject an absolute right to life - without which there cannot be (logically) any absolute human rights and then state, baldly, your own arguments as statements ("before birth there is no human.."). I did not say that you do not have morals, so you misread that also. Elsewhere the point is made that the Hippocratic oath is not connected with the Judaeo-Christian worldview. This is not the case. However, to push this point I would have to engage in some rather complex theology which obviously would be rejected by some here. Basically one would have to discount the whole business of claiming Truth for Christ and if one does not believe in Christ the point is lost. Greek ethics took different turns, and we are always in danger of returning (thanks in no small part to neo-Darwinism) to the "might is right" point of view. I would contend that once you have removed universally accepted moral absolutes from the scene this is all you have left in the end because when a moral code is challenged and there is no overall authority to appeal to the only recourse is to the gun.

    3. Feel free to go as deeply into theology as you like, it will be dismissed though as it is obviously irrelevant. For it to be relevant you first have to prove the existence of said god which I contend does not exist - the burden of proof is always on the person who proposes that X exists, not on anyone else.

      I contend that there is no 'right to be born', in the very same way that a cancer does not have a right to exist within a body. A cancer is a group of cells who have collected together and live off the host, so is an embryo and certainly up to a point so is a foetus. If the person who has a growth within them does not like it they should have the right to have the growth removed.

      Human rights begin at the time of birth, they cannot begin before because until birth the foetus or embryo cannot survive, once born the case changes. If you attempt to infer rights before birth then you have to remove some or all of the rights of the mother, that is unacceptable. I realise that almost every religion (especially the Abrahamic ones) are misogynistic but as a society we recognise that every woman has the same rights as every man and that human rights cannot be removed just because they may be inconvenient. would have to discount the whole business of claiming Truth for Christ ...

      I dismiss even the existence of your god unless and until you can prove it. I am fairly safe in the knowledge that no one has been able to prove it because if anyone could prove their god existed then most people would start following that religion. As the late great Christopher Hitchens once said "What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof"

    4. There you go making absolute statements again....

    5. Actually, you cannot escape that argument. If you say before birth no one (or "it"?) cannot survive (and actually you are wrong at least up to 24 weeks) you must still have a right to reach that other words a right to "survive". Unless you have a right to "be" you have NO right to be anything. How can you argue for rights unless you have a right to argue and how can you have a right to argue unless you have a right to exist...mother, father or child or anything. You simply are NOT unless you have a right to BE. Get it?

    6. I 'Get it', its just that 'it' is provably fallible.

      The thing that most makes humans what they are is our sentience, this is something that has evolved and some would argue is still evolving.

      Sentience does not appear in an embryo, nor does it appear in the earlier stages of a foetus and it is arguable that it isn't present until after birth. Without sentience there is no human to speak of and therefore no rights.

      One has to wonder; if you would confer rights upon an embryo, then would you also confer rights on a tadpole?

    7. If the thing that most makes humans what they are is sentience, then it is not the only thing. But your assertion is not even true. What makes humans most human is their genetic traits passed down through reproduction. Our DNA, while 98% identical to chimpanzees is distinct and wholly homosapien, making us human, not chimp. Without sentience we would still be human. Your claim the a fetus or embryo is not sentient is provably false and a completely unscientific assertion. Read this article and educate yourself so you don't sound so ignorant. You have the right to disagree with these people and their religious beliefs. You can believe a woman should be able to have an abortion. But trying to come across as intelligent; well, leave that to others, M'kay.

  6. Peter, I see you are still trolling by using the 'pro-abortion' label for those people who are pro-choice. Time we defined a few things here:

    Pro-abortionists - would like all women to have abortions all the time - these people may exists but I think on the most part they are an imagined bogey man that the Pro-Rapists (see below) like to taunt everyone with.

    Pro-choice - the normal upstanding citizens who would like all women to be able to decide what to do with their own body's.

    Pro-rapists - These are people who try and call themselves pro-life. The fact of the matter is they are supporting rapists by wanting no abortions to ever occur, one of the outcomes of many rapes is that a man will inseminate a woman, so to be against abortion is to be for the rights of the rapist to spread his seed (and if there happens to be a genetic disorder which causes men to rape then it is likely to be passed to the child produced from the rape.

    Now I don't really care whether you pro-rapists like the law or not, the fact is that women are less likely to die from an abortion whilst it is legal and they are less likely to have an amateur (illegal) abortion whilst it is legal. For me that is all that matters.

    All the nonsense about abortion killing babies is just so much horse shit. If and when you can prove that the foetus is aware of being terminated *then* it may matter, until then it clearly doesn't. The physical and mental health of the mother are of paramount importance, if she decides that being pregnant isn't for her then that is entirely her choice and right and no one else's - furthermore it pisses me off that anyone would want to interfere in another persons rights and the fact that people like the writer of this blog would force all women to lose ultimate control over their own bodies just shows how misogynistic religion is.

    On the subject of misogyny:
    Why is it that 77% of the people who are anti abortion are also men?
    and a direct question for Peter:
    Why do you think you should have a say in what women do with their bodies?

    1. newsengland
      You say "Pro-rapists - These are people who try and call themselves pro-life"
      Would you please provide figures about how many abortions there were in say the whole of 2010 where the reason for the abortion was that the lady had been raped, that is a reported rapes. Please also let me know where I can view the figures you quote so I can see them for myself as well.

      It seems to me, and I stand to be corrected, that 200,000 abortions is a very high number of pregnancies caused due to the ladies being raped.

    2. No need for me to provide figures as I didn't suggest there was any specific amount, although reason suggests the figure will be a percentage of the 200,000* that you quote, and even if it is just a fraction of one percent that would still be several hundred living breathing human beings whose rights the Pro-Rapists would like remove for the sake of preserving genes that could make another rapist, good job!

      I would like to emphasise that I am choosing to use the terminology "pro-rapist" simply because the Pro-Rapist brigade keep calling the Pro-Choice people things like Pro-Abortionists or Pro-Murderers - we can all use explosive words to diminish the position of our opponents and I will continue to do so whilst the Pro-Rapist brigade continue to call me a pro abortionist.

      *note: Peter is a bit fast and loose with his figures, in this post just last month he claimed there were 189,931 abortions in the UK last year, now he is claiming its "over 200,000" So if you want to ask someone about their figures I suggest you start with the blog author.

  7. I should like to add the following: stats for rape in the UK annually up until March 2011, this is from the BBC News Website

    15,940 rapes in year to March 2011.

    With figures that high I am sure you can see that my Pro-Rapist comments weren't entirely flippant.

  8. As promised, a breakdown of your piece. But I will state again for the record that your dishonest manner of discussing things really doesn't merit a response of any kind. Still, a promise is a promise.

    "First, maternal mortality from all causes, including abortion fell dramatically long before abortion was legalised as a result of better medical care."

    - Be that as it may, by taking away the legal option you will force people to seek illegal options. Inevitably, this will lead to an increase in medical complications, severe injuries and deaths. These are quite avoidable and thus morally wrong.

    "Second, many so called ‘back-street abortions were actually carried out ‘illegally’ by ‘skilled professional’ nurses and doctors using surgical instruments in sterile conditions."

    - A completely random and false statement and leading, too. First: 'many' is a loose term. I think 2 is many. How many is many with you?
    Second: even though a(n undefined) part of the abortions might be done by professionals (source? Who am I kidding, you have yet to provide your fist piece of evidence), there is still a substantial group who does not have ready access to an illegal abortionist. They don't come in sixpacks, you know ;-) This group WILL have to resort to crude measures - with all unwanted consequences in their wake.
    Third: if it is going to be done anyway, why not keep it legal so you can regulate it?

    More to follow

    1. 1. Show me the evidence for this claim which runs counter to the observations I have outlined above

      2. No. It was common knowledge amongst the medical fraternity at the time that many were done illegally by doctors/nurses

      3. This argument might be used to argue for the legalisation of all manner of things

  9. The history is useful. I changed my mind about abortion when I studied the history of medicine. Before that my position had been something like ‘I think it’s wrong, and I wouldn’t do it myself, but I think it should be legal because people will do it anyway and women will die in backstreet abortions’.

    Then I realised that the ancient Hippocratic oath (which is preChristian and nothing to do with the Judeo-Christian tradition) included the promise not to induce an abortion. Through all those centuries before medical developments and the welfare state, when childbirth was actually dangerous, when life prospects in general were uncertain and people couldn’t be sure of providing for their children, when there was no welfare state to step in and meet the cost, when contraception was unreliable and marital rape legal – during all this time doctors stuck to the oath. All this to preserve the life of a child that quite possibly wouldn't live past its first birthday. What changed in the twentieth century? Why, now that conditions have vastly improved, are more and more people claiming every year that we can’t possibly find the energy or resources to take care of our children and we’re better off aborting them?

    Why is life becoming less valuable the more material resources we have to support it?

  10. Moving on:

    "The first slide (above)shows the dramatic drop in maternal deaths from all causes that happened long before the legalisation of abortion in 1968. This fall was clearly not due to legalising abortion."

    - First: one does not disprove the other. Sure, deaths dropped due to medicine. But what does that say about the reduction due to legal abortion? Nothing. Just like a decline in child abuse in 1920 would say nothing about the catholic scandal in 2011.
    Second: there are other complications besides death. Infertility being a major one. But you conveniently skip these results. Understandable, as they would completely negate your argument.

    "In the years 1952-4 there were just over 50 women dying per million maternities from illegal abortion."

    - Funny how you have accurate data on things that happen illegally. Did all the crying teens who weren't able to tell their own parents that they had an abortion suddenly come up to you to update your stats? Or did you conveniently leave out the ones that never tell because of the shame of doing it themselves, for lack of access to resources? Thought so.

    There you go, Pete, a full disclosure of the nonsense you're posting. Please do us all a favour and refrain from making noise on matters you clearly do not understand.

    1. 1. The dramatic fall in maternal deaths from abortion from 1935-1960 was clearly not due to legalising abortion because abortion was not legalised until 1968!

      2. This is a blog about maternal death. You are welcome to talk about infertility but where is your data?

      3. These figures are well established and based on an RCOG publication which looked at rates in 1952-4. Before 1968 abortion was illegal so the numbers of abortions were not logged understandably prior to this date, but the number of deaths due to abortion most certainly were. It's possible to conceal an abortion but actually quite hard to conceal a death!

  11. Dear newsengland
    I'm sorry but it is not possible both to believe there is no God and to believe there is any morality, (good and evil if I may). Many philosophers have tried and failed to construct a moral framework without God. If you want any morality you are saying you want a moral law and therefore you need a law giver - which is God. You can live for a short time following someone like Nietzsche, just like Hitler did, or simply deny God like Stalin, but that way lies terror and death.
    Or you can, like most philosophers do in the end, acknowledge you cannot disprove God and therefore you will consider the evidence. You might then turn to the little black book, confident at least that the New Testament we can read now is what was written originally in the 1st century, and look at the claims Jesus makes. Jesus said (John 14:7 "If you have known me, you will also know my Father. From now on you know him and have seen him."
    If you accept killing human beings is morally wrong then you have to decide whether a baby is human; or when was a baby not a human. I start with birth, human, and work backwards and cannot see any discontinuity or non humanness all the way back to conception. Therefore abortion is morally wrong.

    1. I'm sorry but it is not possible both to believe there is no God and to believe there is any morality, (good and evil if I may).

      Nonsense. It is very easy to have morals without religion, all you have to do is decide how you want to be treated and to then treat everyone else that way.

      e.g. I don't want to be robbed, murdered or raped so I don't do these things to others.

      If you are unable to have morals without your religion telling you what they should be then that says an awful lot about your lack of character.

      Nice of you to bring Hitler and Stalin to the discussion.
      Hitler was a Catholic, but I am not foolish enough to state that his religious views caused him to be a bad person. Stalin was an atheist and his religious views didn't cause him a bad person. It can obviously be shown though that religion has caused the deaths of many more than atheism has and that religion has started far more wars : Crusades, Spanish Inquisition et al.

      WRT your little black book: It is 1st century fiction, if you can prove any of it is real please do so, until then any argument generated from it is moot. It is most certainly not accurate nor historical.

      Using your judgement, ie working backwards (and it is definitely backwards thinking, but I'll play along) then every egg and sperm is also human, this is probably the most ridiculous thing I have heard this week (its only Monday though, you have another 6 days to do better)

    2. ...none taken

      Taking your points in reverse order:

      I stopped at conception where the parents DNA is knitted together to create a new human.

      I don't know if you have ever read F.F.Bruce (1910-1990) 'The New Testament documents - are they reliable' pub Eerdmans, he was Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at Manchester University, and points to thousands of documents (many written within a hundred years of the first Gospels or letters) that consistently point to a reliable New Testament. By comparison there are a handful of documents, eg Tacitus, the oldest of which are hundreds of years younger which are relied on for history of the time with much less scepticism. The NT is not a history book as defined by our modern standards of history, nor is it claiming to be, but there are in it accurate historical references that allow theologians and historians to pin down aspects of 1st century history. If it was not accurate, it is remarkable how it has survived, how it does not pull punches describing, for example Peter's denial of Jesus.

      While Hitler may have been born into a Catholic home, he could not be described as a practising Catholic or Christian of any sort. He followed the teaching of Nietzsche, he gave a copy to Mussolini. You may have read a quote of his “I freed Germany from the stupid and degrading fallacies of conscience and morality … we will train young people before whom the world will tremble. Young people capable of violence – imperious, relentless and cruel.”

      Stalin of course spent his teenage years in a Georgian Orthodox seminary. He may well have had a faith in God before throwing it over.

      Together with Mao, and others I think they amply demonstrate that atheism in practice leads to terror and death.

      You refer to the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, and there are other examples where people have killed in the name of God. At best they were terribly mistaken, at worst they were using religion for their own means.

      On the other hand, Jesus and His teaching resisted violence completely.

      If you go to different cultures you will quickly find your own idea of what is right and wrong is not the same as others ideas. Your idea of robbery might well be very different to someone else's. Your idea of murder might be honour killing to someone else. And I don't detect any altruism in your examples, is there a place for self giving altruism in your 'moral world'?

    3. Rather than me explaining why the New Testament is so inaccurate I will redirect you to this you tube clip the man speaking spent years studying the new testament texts.

      wrt Hitler, he was a practising Catholic and had full support of the Pope at the time. You may want to play Pope or Hitler and try and guess who said what. Its fun and educational (I might be lying about the fun part!)

    4. Thanks for these.

      You might like to look at this where Ehrman debates with Dr Peter Williams on the NT, it gets going about 20 minutes in. I also saw a Williams lecture on 1st century names, places and botany which I found compelling.

      wrt Hitler, fascinating but I completely disagree with you. Public figures will often say one thing to one audience and the opposite to another in an attempt to gain their support. I imagine that if Hitler was a practising Catholic as you suggest, he would attend confession, I struggle with the idea of a Catholic priest hearing Hitler confessing that he had ordered the German armies into Russia, or the execution of 50 of the escapees from the POW camp of 'The Great Escape'. The proposal stretches credulity.

    5. newsengland

      I don't want (retrospectively) to be aborted before I was born. Why is it therefore OK to do it to others?

  12. It may once have been believed that there were 100,000 illegal abortions per year prior to the passage of the liberal abortion law in 1967. However, CB Goodhart at Cambridge quite reasonably put such vague claims to rest. He first demonstrated that the number of maternal deaths due to abortion (a figure hard to distort very greatly) was far too low to support the figure of 100,000 illegal abortions per year. He then proceeded to calculate the rate of illegal abortions in Britain as whole from the known rate of abortions in one particular locale, where very liberal access to abortion prevailed even under the old law (which did give discretion to the physician to certify that health was at stake). Even allowing for a generous measure of illegal abortion in that one locale, he still came to the conclusion that there could not have been more than about 20,000 illegal abortions per year for the whole of Britain before the enactment of the 1967 law.

    Today the figure stands at 200,000 abortions per year.

    He also found that after the 1967 law was enacted – maternal deaths shot up.

    In other words, the back-street abortionists with their coat-hangers were doing a better job than National Health Service surgeons.

    1. As I argue above many of the so-called back street abortionists were actually NHS surgeons doing it illegally behind close doors.

      Do you have a reference for the Goodhart paper? Is it available on line?

    2. Today the figure stands at 200,000 abortions per year.
      Citation please, and don't use this blog as just a few weeks ago the figure being quoted here was less than 190,000.

  13. There were >189,000 abortions in England and Wales in 2011 - ref

    There were >12,000 abortions in Scotland in 2010 - ref

    Can't find Scottish 2011 quickly but number will not change much

    So England, Wales and Scotland is 189,000+12,000=201,000 per year

    1. If you want a job doing... I have found them at: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

      Scotland 2011: 12,471
      England & Wales 2011: 189,931

      So that is around 200,000 women who, if you had your way, would have been forced to have babies against their will - and we can extrapolate from that (men who didn't want to be fathers) between a quarter and a half a million lives a year that you would ruin. And you lot call yourselves 'pro-life', what a joke.

    2. But the big question I'm asking (as a woman myself) is why 200,000 women in Britain last year were pregnant when they didn't want to be. Given that abortion is not a nice experience and not good for women's mental health, then, apart from any moral considerations, this is not a good things for women. Nor is it a good thing for men (who also suffer after abortions) and for marriages and relationships that break up as a result of abortion.

      Feminism used to be about improving women's opportunities and status in society so that the reasons from unwanted pregnancies (poverty, marital rape, abandonment, prostitution, lack of contraception, social-stigma against extra-marital pregnancy) would disappear. We've made huge progress in these areas, so what's going on?

      Looking at testimonies from women who've had abortions the answer is almost always the same - my boyfriend didn't support me, I was too young, I was financially unstable. Could it be that we've encouraged a society in which unstable relationships are the norm, when girls have sex far too young when they're not emotionally ready, and where women simply don't have the support they need when they fall pregnant? Could it be that feminism is massively failing women and then hiding behind the 'woman's body' 'woman's right to choose' sophistry?

    3. Could it be that we've encouraged a society in which unstable relationships are the norm, when girls have sex far too young when they're not emotionally ready, and where women simply don't have the support they need when they fall pregnant?

      I think society has been failing anyone from what we commonly refer to as the middle classes and below for years now.

      We have gone from a society which was much more family orientated in the 1970's with almost all children growing up with at least one parent at home most of the time, to one which by the mid 1990's had seen both parents needing to work to keep afloat and at the same time communities being destroyed by large out of town retailers.

      None of the political parties have any answer for this. Labour, in past times the champion of the working classes, only plugged the holes with increased benefits for working families. Benefits don't actually help in the long run as they create a dependency, not only by those who claim them but by those who employ people who claim them as they can afford to pay lower wages, its a vicious circle.

      Now 30-40 years later we have a whole generation who don't know what its like to earn a real wage and have to get by on tax credits. Add to that the current double dip recession and it is of no surprise that many women/ men/ couples don't want to bring children into the world.

      Could it be that feminism is massively failing women and then hiding behind the 'woman's body' 'woman's right to choose' sophistry?

      No, I think that would be over simplifying the network of issues that have converged to disenfranchise a whole generation.

      If anything I would say that feminism hasn't yet achieved its full potential, instead of freeing women up so they could work or have a family they are now forced to either work or work and have a family (I know that's poorly written, cant think of a better way to put it) On top of that there are very few women who have managed to do as well as their male counterparts in almost any industry.

    4. Actually, I find myself agreeing with quite a lot of what you say here. I'm not very well qualified to write about it, but I believe that the idea of the 'family wage' was one of the nineteenth century evangelical ideas to improve society - wages were supposed to reflect what a family needed to survive, so that women and children were not forced to work for low wages just so the family could eat.

      It seems to me that the Church has failed women as well by simply reacting a perceived threat of 'feminism' or going along with the political agenda unquestioningly. Nobody is giving a strong lead and women feel lost and confused. Are they failing as Christian women if they go out to work? Are they failing as modern women if they don't? And that's the few who have the luxury of choice.

      However, encouraging young girls and young boys who are not emotionally mature and years from being able to provide for a family to experiment with sex is definitely NOT the answer. It ends in spiraling abortions and single mothers losing their place in the education system. NOT good news.

  14. The Graphs of maternal deaths shown by Dr Peter Saunders both before and after 1967 demonstrate either that there were very few illegal abortions or else that illegal abortions had a high safety rate. It is the proaborts who claim the high numbers of illegal abortions to justify making the procedure "necessary to save women's lives". They are the ones making the prognostications not Dr Peter Saunders.
    Many of the so called unwanted pregnancies that are not aborted produce much loved children and many who do abort live to regret it as witnessed by the increasing number of women who come out and publicly testify to try to persuade others not to follow their tragic path. There is plenty of evidence in the public domain
    All the above arguments fail to understand the problems caused by a reversal of the age structure in the populations of Western nations who created a "woman's right to choose". The generation who created this right may well be the generation who cannot be supported by the few babies they produced and failing economic systems partly created by a diminishing number in the work force. Some non religious population experts are aware of the problem. If there is no absolute right to life, it is easy to speculate what decisions will be deemed to be expedient.

  15. I have a lot of sympathy for those who have an abortion as a result of rape - where it really was rape - As a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ I know that rapists as with other sinners who fail to repent (see below)will face the judgement of God one day; that said it is about time the judiciary in the UK passed sentences on rapists that the crime deserves and will deter others from going down that road.
    It is also about time that parents, teachers, lecturers, doctors, nurses, the media, television programmes, films and computerised games stopped promoting sex outside of marriage and started teaching / displaying / promoting ABSTINENCE.
    Abstinence would quickly reduce the number of abortions especially among teenagers.

    1. It scares me that there are people like yourself in the world with such a blinkered view of the world around them. Don't get me wrong, if the world were full of people just like you then it would be a fine place to live, but it isn't and it's never going to be.

      The abstinence approach is a nice idea, unfortunately kids will experiment - there is no stopping it no matter what, so isn't it better that we arm them with good advice?

      The best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies is by use of contraception. The trouble is that some religions try and say even using contraception is bad (eg Catholicism) which in itself causes many more unwanted pregnancies, some of which are bound to result in a termination.

    2. OK I am a bit of an old fogey, but in my teenage years it not common practice for teenagers to be having sex (and that was after the "swinging 60's". I recall one girl (and one only) getting pregnant whilst still at high school and that was before the plethora of contraceptives were readily available.
      In my teenage years kids did not experiment - with sex and not many with drugs either, so clearly abstinence was possible.
      What changed?
      First off it was adults' attitudes:
      a) Toward their kids, they wanted them but they couldn't or wouldn't take the attendant responsibility of bringing up kids, this is a problem that is currently escalating (at least on the estate where I live).
      b) The overwhelming amount of magazines, films, TV programmes that persuade teenagers in their formative years that sex is good (which it is) and that if you are not doing it or have not done it then there is something sad about you, and no angst driven teenager likes to be thought of as a saddo.
      Many people sneered at Mary Whitehouse (probably myself as well at that time) but looking back she got it right. TV was a power for good or bad, because man (women and men) is sinful TV became a tool for the bad.
      Although I acknowledge it is highly unlikely but if films, TV, magazines,the internet and digital games were to portray abstinence as "cool" and sex as being for "saddo's outside of marriage" then there likely would be a major shift which would lead to less teenage abortions.

    3. So abstinence is the way to stop unwanted pregnancies, which are likely to end up in abortion.

      Marvelous. So are you going to tell this to my husband, or shall I ? 'Cause it's not just teenagers who have sex!

  16. Teenager abortion is increasing since 2005, which is followed by the point that teen maternity has been increasing in the last 5 years. Abortion on its own has threats, but teen abortion has even more threats that we will discuss here in the following paragraphs. We know that there are threats of teenybopper abortion, in the toughest situation even loss of life can happen.
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  19. The Abortion Holocaust is without question a crime against humanity. The leaders involved and zealous functionaries who have made a moral choice to engage in the wholesale slaughter of "unwanted babies" should stand trial like those monsters who were put in the dock at Nuremberg 1945/46.

    Nuremberg established permissive domestic laws are no defence against charges of crimes against humanity. One only has to set aside the propaganda of the twisted ideologues and take a look at a few of the babies after undergoing this "medical procedure" to know full well that something absolutely dreadful has taken place.

    The darkest age in human history is with us, and hardly anybody bats an eyelid. It is time that the facts are made known and those who have done great wrongs are tried according to the standards of our grandfathers and great grandfathers - not shielded by laws which keep the slaughter going because stopping it would be an admission of wrong doing.

  20. What is it that's said - the pro-lifer's interest in life stops as soon as the baby is born.

    Anyway - given the number of miscarriages which happen and the number of babies who die during pregnancy, surely god is the biggest abortionist of them all !

    1. 'What is it that's said - the pro-lifer's interest in life stops as soon as the baby is born.'
      >>> Oh nonsense. A totally groundless claim

      Anyway - given the number of miscarriages which happen and the number of babies who die during pregnancy, surely god is the biggest abortionist of them all !
      >> So you are using the alleged actions of a God you don't believe in to justify humans taking the lives of other humans. Certainly novel!

  21. > Oh nonsense. A totally groundless claim
    Really ? The anti-abortionists are quite happy for babies to be born to families where there isn't enough money to support them, or the family is in some way dysfunctional (drugs/alcohol/violence) so no, it's not a groundless claim !

    > So you are using the alleged actions of a God you don't believe
    > in to justify humans taking the lives of other humans.
    No I'm not. I'm pointing out that if you're going to use emotive language like 'murder' then you need to start looking within your own religion before casting aspersions on others.

    1. Are you suggesting it is better to end a baby's life than to offer it a chance through support or adoption?

      You haven't even read the article above have you. It doesn't contain the word 'murder' anywhere. Read it.

    2. But a fetus in the womb isn't legally considered a baby; not sure the point you're trying to make.

    3. And in the 19th century deep south, blacks weren't legally considered people.

      I'm sure you have a point... somewhere.


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