(Washington Post) “We face a real situation where Roe could be overturned. And we know what will happen, which is that women will die. Thousands of women died every year pre-Roe.”
— Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood, in an interview with WFAA of Dallas, March 6, 2019
A reader asked us to investigate this repeated claim by the president of Planned Parenthood — that “thousands of women” died every year from botched abortions before the Supreme Court in 1973 nullified antiabortion laws across the United States in Roe v. Wade.
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This turned out to be an interesting inquiry, taking The Fact Checker through a tour of decades of musty academic literature. Statisticians had tried to parse data on what was, for the most part, an illegal act. Unplanned pregnancy and abortions were deeply shameful at the time, so the official statistics were not necessarily reliable indicators of mortality rates from abortion.