Why Full Reporting of Abortion Safety Data Is Needed

Why Full Reporting of Abortion Safety Data Is Needed
AP Photo/Brennan Linsley
Why Full Reporting of Abortion Safety Data Is Needed
AP Photo/Brennan Linsley
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You’ve probably heard the line that abortion is safer than childbirth. It’s a common talking point designed to justify abortion with seemingly scientific findings. But in fact, it’s an impossible claim to make. Maybe that is why Planned Parenthood is taking Idaho to court, to prevent anyone finding out the truth about how little we actually know about abortion in the United States. 

Recently Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands filed suit in Idaho's U.S. District Court to stop a law calling for required reporting on abortion complications to know when women suffered harm -- useful information when crafting laws to protect the vulnerable. 

But Planned Parenthood routinely opposes such measures. Consider the words of former Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards when she urged lawmakers to ignore such efforts, saying, “The science says abortion is safe, but time and time again elected officials are ignoring the facts and jamming through abortion restrictions under a false guise of ‘safety’ when they actually endanger women.” 

One wonders what science she is referring to, as the pro-abortion think tank The Guttmacher Institute acknowledges that only 27 states even check on abortion complications and that states are not required to submit abortion data to the Centers for Disease Control. Added to the CDC data pool is information voluntarily offered to Guttmacher, which issues its own separate estimates of abortion and its impact, also without data from all 50 states.  

This kind of jerry-built system results in differences between the data pools and the actual findings, determined J. Jackson Hill IV, an attorney who prepared a more than 30-page analysis of the issues in a Vanderbilt University Law school report titled “The Need for a National Abortion Reporting Requirement: Why Both Sides Should Be in Support of Better Data.”  

Hill noted that “[f]rom 2001-2008, the CDC calculates that its numbers only account for 65-69% of abortions that were reported by Guttmacher.”  

So all that we really know about the number and negative impacts of abortion in America comes to us from the abortion industry itself, which tells us to trust but never verify its reports. Hill adds that “because Guttmacher does not inquire about abortion complications, the information is lacking on how women are affected by both surgical and medical abortions.” 

That’s not the way the CDC wishes that abortion were tracked. In a recent report on abortion statistics, the CDC analyzed the shortcomings in its data poll, including the fact that not all states participate (the report did not have data from California, Maryland, and New Hampshire) and that “the level of detail received on the characteristics of women obtaining abortions varies considerably from year to year and by reporting area.”

In its Abortion Surveillance report, the CDC wished for a better system, writing: “To encourage more uniform collection of these details, CDC has collaborated with the National Association of Public Health Statistics and Information Systems to develop reporting standards and provide technical guidance for vital statistics personnel who collect and summarize abortion data within the United States. However, because the collection and reporting of abortion data are not federally mandated, [emphasis added], many reporting areas have developed their own data collection forms and therefore do not collect or provide all the information or level of detail included in this report.”

Imagine if all that we knew about bank safety came from the financial industry’s own press releases or if we relied on a restaurant owner’s assertion about what could be found in a private inspection of the kitchen. All kinds of industries are evaluated and monitored to ensure that people experience as few negative outcomes as possible.

In fact, we know more about negative outcomes of pregnancy because we actually check. 

Attorney Clarke Forsythe and Dr. John Thorp discussed the difference between how pregnancy and abortion are tracked, observing: “[M]ost states link birth and death certificates, which means that childbirth deaths are more accurately monitored. The count of abortion deaths only includes direct deaths, while the count of childbirth deaths includes direct and indirect deaths (like homicides and suicides while pregnant), thereby inflating the childbirth death count. The national system for counting childbirth deaths is thorough and long-standing, while there is no national system for counting abortion deaths based on legally mandated reporting.”

Yet in protesting a requirement for reporting, abortion advocates routinely complain that they burden abortionists and are unnecessary. 

Funny, that’s not what they said when lobbying for the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which, when combined with the 2009 HITECH Act, created a whole new world of mandatory electronic reporting requirementsRichards talked openly about the role she and Planned Parenthood played in achieving passage of the law, which included the reporting requirements that have changed the ways many doctors are practicing medicine. 

Why is it that professional reporting requirements were no problem for Planned Parenthood when applied to medical professionals but somehow become an issue when the abortion industry itself is asked to keep records and track outcomes? 

America needs a National Abortion Reporting law, ensuring that abortion is as safe as Planned Parenthood and company claim it to be. 

An abortion industry that insists its deadly product is safe for women should have no objections to the rest of us being able to verify that math. What is it trying to hide? 

Kristan Hawkins is president of Students for Life of America, which has more than 1,200 chapters on college and high school campuses across the country.

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