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Chemical killer

Surgical abortions have slowed, but pills and chemicals are reaching more homes—and killing more babies


Photo illustration by David Freeland/Original image by Globalmoments/iStock

Chemical killer
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Three centuries plus five years. That’s how long American legislators have tried to stop the use of abortion pills. In 1716 New York City enacted an ordinance requiring midwives to swear they would “not Give any Counsel or Administer any Herb Medicine or Potion, or any other thing to any Woman being with Child whereby She Should Destroy or Miscarry.”

The good news is that since 1990 the number of surgical abortions in the United States has probably decreased by two-thirds. The bad news is that the number of chemical abortions has increased, with some abortion pills now delivered directly to homes.

As the first article in our 2021 Roe v. Wade special section shows, abortion proponents are pushing for more death by mail. The next two stories take us to abortion discussions in the 1660s and the 1960s and show how Lawrence Lader, the master of abortion public relations 50 years ago, later fought to legalize abortion pills. The fourth article summarizes 2020’s big abortion news.

The question harder to report on is whether hearts and minds are changing. Maybe some who put up “I believe in science” yard signs are accepting factual information about the beating hearts of unborn children. Maybe some who say “Black lives matter” recognize that gestating while black is particularly dangerous: A black baby is 3.5 times more likely to be aborted than a white one.

In 2020 we saw how tragic it was for elderly individuals locked in nursing homes to die alone of COVID-19. In 2021 maybe more Americans will recognize that a young woman should not have to decide on life or death all alone, with her tiny baby dead in the toilet bowl.


Marvin Olasky

Marvin is the former editor in chief of WORLD, having retired in January 2022, and former dean of World Journalism Institute. He joined WORLD in 1992 and has been a university professor and provost. He has written more than 20 books, including Reforming Journalism.

@MarvinOlasky

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