The other day, my family was praying with a 40 Days for Life group outside a Planned Parenthood abortion site when a man walked by. He slowed down and I had that feeling ... you know, that feeling. Sure enough, he stopped, doubled back and said: "I think you're wrong. Abortion needs to be legal to protect women. If it weren't legal, women would die in illegal abortions."
One of the other women pointed out to this man that women still die from legal abortions, but that didn't really seem like an answer that satisfied any of us.
I thought of some retorts that might have won "debating points" but nothing that would actually have helped. So later on I went searching online for something to say should this happen again.
And I found Chp. 27 of Why Can't We Love Them Both?, an online book by Dr. and Mrs. Willke. There's great information on this page and throughout the e-book. Three things really struck me:
1. Legalization did not historically have any impact on improving women's safety from abortions.
2, The year before Roe, CA and NY had pretty permissive abortion laws already, and the number of women who died from legal abortion was pretty close to the number who died from illegal ones: 25 vs. 39. Considering that far less than 39% of the population lived in those two states combined, proportionally, more women died when abortion was legal.
3. They have an example of a country that has gone from permissive to restricted on abortion (Poland) showing that making abortion illegal makes women's lives safer.
Print this graph and be prepared for a situation where you have to answer the same question that I couldn't. Notice how the graph trendline for deaths from illegal abortions does not show any response to legalization. Cover up the labels showing when abortions were legalized and ask your interlocutor to guess from the graph when they were legalized. (Or you may want to use white out on all 4 labels showing legalization as well as the introduction of antibiotics).