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Letter to Editor

The following letter was submitted to the National Post on July 9, 2010, but was not published.


Anti-abortionists continue to ignore all the evidence

Re: Gossip isn’t proof

Andrea Mrozek’s and Rebecca Walberg’s extremely weak attempt to rebut my July 8 op-ed (on how researchers calculate unsafe abortion numbers) was given pride of place on the Post’s Letters page yesterday, even though it didn’t refute a single thing I wrote.
 
They belittle the estimates of unsafe abortion by criticizing researchers’ "caveats, qualifiers, and disclaimers." But such cautionary steps and uncertainties are a normal and integral part of science – especially when calculating the incidence of unsafe abortion in the face of anti-abortion laws and inadequate medical records. It’s not my problem if Mrozek and Walberg don’t understand how science works.
 

Their singular focus on one example I cited (a community study done in the Congo) is telling. It’s like they’re complaining about the existence of one tree while standing in the middle of a forest they cannot see. They've chosen to simply dismiss the overwhelming evidence that current estimates of deaths from unsafe, illegal abortion are as accurate as possible given the available evidence - of which there’s a lot from many sources. Meanwhile, their own peculiar notion that the numbers are vastly overestimated is an article of faith – i.e., belief in something despite the evidence.

Oddly, Mrozek and Walberg try to claim that overall maternal mortality (from childbirth etc.) is an “elephant in the room,” even though it's been discussed endlessly in the international press for the last 6 months. It's abortion that keeps getting left off the table because of anti-choice politics and controversy. Unfortunately, even the UN, the Lancet journal, and Bill and Melinda Gates are guilty of this. But ignoring unsafe abortion will not make it go away, and dismissing the evidence just abandons women to their deaths.

- Joyce Arthur, Coordinator, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada