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Thursday, May 13, 2004

Ellen Goodman has recanted.

It sounds like it made her teeth ache to write this column:
I bring this up because of a recent column I wrote on the March for Women's Lives. I referred to the bad old days when 10,000 women a year died of illegal abortions. Ka-boom. The number -- 10,000 deaths -- produced a mother lode of e-mails insisting that it was either a lie or propaganda or an "urban legend."
Urban legend! We here at After Abortion are the souls of modesty. Indeed we are. And yet I am confident that we are the origin of "urban legend" as the best way to describe Ms. Goodman's factual misdemeanor. See also here and here. And here.

Goodman goes on:
I will spare you the details [Once burned, twice shy--Emily], but the 10,000 figure did not come from Dr. Nathanson, it came from Dr. Frederick Taussig, circa 1936. In 1930 abortion was the official cause of death for almost 2,700 women. But "official" wasn't the whole story. Though data were admittedly skimpy by today's standards, Taussig's research estimated 8,000 to 10,000 deaths.

Over the decades, the numbers shrank to hundreds and then dozens because of penicillin, because doctors began performing abortions, and because abortion became legal in critical states such as New York. By 1972, the year before the Roe v. Wade decision, the Centers for Disease Control reported that 39 women died from illegal or self-induced abortions.
Huh. In the April 25 column, Ellen melodramatically explains why she is a staunch proponent of legal abortion:
After all, those of us who remember when birth control was illegal and when 10,000 American women a year died from illegal abortions don't have to imagine a world without choices.
Goodman goes on in today's column to say that facts don't really matter. They don't change anyone's mind. She announces this sad conclusion in the world-weary voice of the jaded urban columnist, as if she has known for, oh, just centuries, that facts don't matter to the unwashed masses who read her columns. And yet, as recently as April 25, Ellen Goodman herself believed that facts do matter. It sounds like she changed her mind about that when the facts changed.

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