The road to and away from our current abortion regime.continue at National Review
On Monday, January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States issued two abortion decisions that “took on a life of their own. The political, social, and medical turmoil caused by the decisions has lasted for forty years and shows no signs of abating,” Clarke Forsythe writes in his Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. Wade. The book is an authoritative resource on the back story behind the decision — the uncertainties, the politics, the all-too-human influences that went into the Roe and Doe decisions issued that day. Forsythe talks with National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez about what happened and how these four decades of knowledge and grave experience can shape our future.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Is abortion safer than childbirth? How important is this question to the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision?
CLARKE FORSYTHE: That question was the key medical assumption of Roe v. Wade. It was the central assumption on which the Court prohibited health and safety regulations in the first trimester and expanded the right up to viability. There were no reliable data to support the notion in 1972, and, since there were no trial or factual hearings in Roe and Doe, there was nothing to support it in the record. The notion today is based on the mechanical comparison of the published abortion mortality rate and the published maternal-mortality rate. But these rates are non-comparable because what goes into the numerator and denominator in each is radically different. And the notion is doubtful today at any stage of pregnancy because there are now four fundamental challenges to the mantra that “abortion is safer than childbirth”: numerous medical studies highlighting the dysfunctional abortion-reporting system here in the United States where all data reporting is voluntary, U.S. maternal-mortality data showing an increasing rate of maternal mortality from abortion after the first trimester, the growing body of international data on the long-term risks to women from abortion, and maternal-mortality data from other countries, with a centralized data-registry system, that show that the rate of maternal mortality from abortion is higher than from childbirth.