Abortion-choice advocates often say, “Abortion is safe.” They believe it’s safe for the mother and some even say it’s safer than childbirth. In this three-part series, we address each of these questions: (1) Is abortion safe? (2) Is abortion safe for the mother? And, (3) is abortion safer than childbirth?
In some ways, abortion is safer than it was.
When abortion was legalized nationwide in 1973, abortion patients were not routinely given antibiotics so they were prone to infection. Sonogram technology wasn’t widespread either. That meant abortion doctors couldn’t see into the womb during procedures. So, there was a greater chance for nicks, cuts, and punctures. Also, some of the riskier methods of abortion have been marginalized too, like saline abortions. Clearly, abortion procedures can be safer now than before because of gains in medical knowledge and technology.
Legalizing abortion did not however shift abortions from back-alleys to clinics. As early as 1960 abortion procedures were primarily done in clinical/hospital settings. But the clinics themselves are now able to offer safer procedure, for mothers, with sonograms, and a policy of general antibiotics for all patients.
The medical field surrounding abortion has improved over the last 40 years, so we can expect that surgical procedures like abortion can be performed in safer ways than were possible in the 1960’s and 70’s. So, there’s a legitimate sense in which abortion is safer than it was before. But safer doesn’t mean safe.
Safer doesn’t mean safe.
It’s good to reduce health risks and physical traumas, but if abortion is still inherently violent and dangerous, then it’s not safe. We aren’t dismissing real medical advances, we’re just trying to be honest about what abortion is and what it does to everyone involved. Abortion may be less dangerous, in some ways, than it was in the mid-20th century but we haven’t answered whether it’s safe.
So, is abortion safe?
1. “Safe abortion” isn’t about “safety” in the normal sense of the word.
For abortion-choice advocates “safe abortion” is only about the mother’s safety. Abortion isn’t safe for everyone involved so the only way for abortion to be “safe” is by using the word in a different way than how people normally use it.
We cannot emphasize enough how important the mother is here. When a mother faces an unplanned pregnancy, it’s her body, her livelihood, her health and her well-being on the line. Whatever else is going on, whoever else might be affected, her body is still the only place where conventional abortion can happen.
The mother’s safety is incredibly important, but if she is safe during an abortion that doesn’t make abortion safe overall.
To understand how “safety” is redefined here, imagine if you and I were caught in a tornado. If a raging tornado is barreling down on us. We could stay safe by hiding in a good sturdy storm shelter. But even if we were spared from harm, that doesn’t make the tornado safe. The tornado was a violent and potentially deadly event, even if you and I were unscathed. Abortion isn’t the same as a tornado, obviously. The point is that abortion could still be very dangerous even if the mother isn’t harmed by it. She’s not the only individual who can be harmed by abortion. So, if abortion is “safe” in any meaningful sense, we have to ask, “for whom?”
2. Abortion isn’t safe for children-in-utero
At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, we have to point out that tiny humans in the womb are catastrophically harmed by so-called “safe abortion.” It’s misleading to call abortion “safe” without mentioning how it’s designed to kill. And if you’ve ever seen a dismemberment abortion or a suction abortion, you know it’s a violent death too. Nobody is safe in a procedure designed to kill them.
And the manner of killing involved in abortion doesn’t help that case either. The instruments used in abortion are designed to trap, tear, crush, cut, sever, suction, and evacuate the remains of tiny human beings. If these tools were used on anyone else, at another stage in life, we’d call it “cruel and unusual.” Any boast about “safe abortion” is muffled beneath the silent scream of millions of abortion victims.
3. Abortion isn’t safe for motherhood
Besides harming fetal humans, abortion is also dangerous to motherhood. The abortion procedure is violent action on the mother, on the child, and on the relationship between them. It severs one of the most iconic relationships, the emblem of gentle care and loving protection: motherhood. A mother-with-child is the picture of loving care. Abortion-choice culture, however, puts a negative spin on motherhood by redefining “motherhood” to include the privilege of intentionally killing one’s children in their most helpless state.
That doesn’t sound like “motherhood” anymore. Abortion-choice policy can pit mother against child as if she is the “owner” or “master” of that child-in-utero with full rights of disposing and killing her unwanted property. In that way, abortion-choice ideology treats unwanted fetal humans as a “burden,” a “punishment,” or a “disease.” When abortion-choice is included in maternity, motherhood shifts from a pure emblem of gentle loving care to sometimes hostile territory, weaponizing the womb.
4. Abortion isn’t safe for the family.
Any time a child is killed, even a child-in-utero, the rest of the family has lost a member. Children have lost a sibling. The father and mother have lost a child. Grandparents have lost a grandchild. That’s a real loss.
And whenever that abortion has negative side-effects on the mother, psychologically or physically, the rest of the family can feel that too. If you have ever lived with a family member struggling through depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety, or suicidal thoughts (and abortion correlates with all of these) – then you know that these are real difficulties for the whole family even if they center on one person.
5. Abortion isn’t safe for society.
Abortion choice policy does not just affect individuals, or just mothers, or just communities, it ripples across the widest social spheres affecting all of society. One way abortion hurts society is through a divisive power-differential. Abortion-choice policy pits the haves against the have-nots. Children-in-utero are voiceless, defenseless, and innocent, the most vulnerable of marginalized groups. Even compared to mothers facing an unplanned pregnancy – and those mothers are often in crisis – the unborn children they carry are even more helpless and imperiled than they are.
Abortion also disproportionately affects black and minority communities. Currently, black mothers resort to abortion 4x’s more than white mothers. Don’t forget, race-based and sex-selective abortion are also legal in the U.S. If these harms against children-in-utero were happening with any other class or group of humans in America we’d consider that a cancerous lesion on the face of society, an embarrassment to our claimed status of “civilization.” Society is in great peril when it’s legal to kill individual humans because of their biological sex, ethnicity, or skin color.
6. Abortion isn’t safe for culture
Abortion-choice policy is a dangerous precedent in culture because it normalizes a dehumanizing and deadly act against innocent human beings. There’s no scientific dispute about whether fetal humans are homo sapiens. From conception, every child-in-utero is a literal and distinct biological human. Yet abortion-choice advocates overwhelmingly suppress and avoid any mention of the humanity of fetal humans. Sadly, that tactic helps make it easier to excuse killing the unborn.
Fetal humans are denied even the protection we extend to household pets, farm animals, or endangered species. Abortion-choice advocates typically reject fetal personhood, yet abortion choice policy doesn’t even protect fetal humans against animal abuse. The fetal human is legally reduced to property, subject to live dismemberment, mutilation, and desecration (of the corpse) as long that’s what his or her owner so chooses. That treatment of fetal humans sends humanitarian society backward 150 years, to when it was legal to treat marginalized members of the human race like disposable property.
But the societal fallout from abortion gets even darker. Abortion-choice culture installs death-profiteering as a societal norm. A whole industry makes it’s living primarily by killing unwanted human beings. And we’re not talking about war deaths or killing in self-defense. We’re talking about killing defenseless fetal humans who never held a gun, never committed a crime, and killing them at a rate that dwarfs all the war casualties in U.S. history.
Abortion isn’t safe
Abortion is dangerous on many levels so that we cannot grant that abortion is generally safe. Maybe the abortion procedure is safer in some regards than it was before Roe v. Wade in 1973. But, overall abortion is dangerous for the family, for motherhood, for society, for culture, and it’s looming death for children-in-utero.
 Mary Calderone estimates as many as 90% of illegal abortions were performed in clinical settings, even though she was writing 7 years before any state formally sanctioned abortion (Colorado, 1967), and 13 years before it would be federally legalized. Mary Calderone, “Illegal Abortion as a Public Health Problem,” American Journal of Health 50 (July I960): 949.
 Planned Parenthood didn’t require antibiotics for all patients until July 2007. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3568698/
“Safety: a condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury.” https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/safety
 Abortion-choice advocates might not see abortion as violence against the mother since, presumably, she consented to the procedure. But even a routine surgical abortion, with no serious complications, is still an invasive act, through her sexual organs, using sharp medical instruments to dismember and suction the fetal human from inside her uterus, typically causing physical pain, bleeding, minor internal cuts, scrapes, and soreness, and carries additional side effects from the anesthesia, pain-killers, and antibiotics (like nausea and flu-like symptoms).
 Currently, only one state (AZ) has banned race-based abortion, and eight states (AZ, AR, KS, NC, ND, OK, PA, SD) have banned sex-selective abortion. https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/abortion-bans-cases-sex-or-race-selection-or-genetic-anomaly
 The conception definition of human life is granted by the American college of Pediatricians (https://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/life-issues/when-human-life-begins), standard reference works agree (https://www.princeton.edu/~prolife/articles/embryoquotes2.html), it’s presupposed by the Department of Health and Human Services – saying “a core component of the HHS mission is the dedication to serve all Americans from conception to natural death.” (https://www.hhs.gov/about/strategic-plan/index.html). See also Maureen Condic, “When Does Human Life Begin? The Scientific Evidence and Terminology Revisited,” Univ. of St. Thomas Journal of Law and Public Policy, 8 no. 1 (Fall 2013), 39pgs, http://www.embryodefense.org/MaureenCondicSET.pdf
 Several studies acknowledge that dehumanizing language facilitates dehumanizing behavior towards the out-group. See, David Livingston Smith, Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others (NY: Griffin/St. Martin’s Press, 2012). I also explore this subject in John Ferrer, “How Holocausts Happen,” Apologetics Academy (15 April 2016), 46:25-51:17, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjFuXVU_ofY.
 According to current animal cruelty laws it’s illegal to deliberately torture cats and dogs to death, and that includes dismemberment or chemical burning (two methods used in human abortion). And even with farm animals animal cruelty laws require that the animal be rendered unconscious before slaughter. Of course, engaged species are even more protected so that any deliberate killing is illegal. See, ALDF, “Laws that Protect Animals,” Animal Legal Defense Fund (Cotati, CA: N.D.), https://aldf.org/article/laws-that-protect-animals/
 For the 2017-2018 fiscal year, Planned Parenthood reported administering 332,757 abortions (see pg. 27 of the Annual Report). Guttmacher Institute estimates that the average pill-abortion costs around $535 and the average surgical abortion, at 10 weeks gestation, was $508. Planned parenthood, however, reports that even 1st-trimester abortions can cost as much as $1,500, and later trimester abortions broach $3,275 and higher as they approach and enter the third-term. There is no single rate across all planned parenthood centers, and since Planned Parenthood does not publicly self-report their revenue from abortion services we have to make an educated guess. One survey indicates the average cost of an abortion in 2018 nationwide was $598. Using this estimate, Planned Parenthood would have earned about $200 million. This number, however, could be much higher than that depending on what related service-fees might be included in the abortion procedure (consultation, pregnancy testing, preliminary imaging, anesthesia, antibiotics, follow-up appointment, etc.).