Trust is a fragile thing; hard to win and easily shattered. We don’t tend to trust people who have deceived us or manipulated facts to their advantage. Why would we?

Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen recently tweeted: “Before Roe v. Wade, thousands of women died every year — and because of extreme attacks on safe, legal abortion care, this could happen again right here in America.”

A reader of the Washington Post requested an investigation into this repeated claim by Dr. Wen — that “thousands of women” died every year from botched abortions before the Supreme Court’s infamous Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

Glenn Kessler of the Post uncovered data indicating a huge drop in abortion-related fatalities due to the availability of infection-fighting drugs. Kessler observed, “By 1959, a leading researcher wrote: ‘Abortion is no longer a dangerous procedure. This applies not just to therapeutic abortions as performed in hospitals but also to so-called illegal abortions as done by physicians. In 1957, there were only 260 deaths in the whole country attributed to abortions of any kind.’”

Kessler’s article concluded by giving Dr. Wen’s statement four (out of four possible) “Pinocchios” to disparage the accuracy of her claim.

Now, while it is true that even one abortion-related death is one too many (including the death of the preborn baby), the issue at hand is the truthfulness and trustworthiness of Dr. Wen.

Given the immense gravity of the decisions surrounding the killing of preborn life, why would anyone trust the counsel of someone who glibly lies in order to further her cause?

Kessler ends his excellent analysis with this: “Wen’s repeated use of this number reminds us of the shoddy data used by human trafficking opponents. Unsafe abortion is certainly a serious issue, especially in countries with inadequate medical facilities. But advocates hurt their cause when they use figures that do not withstand scrutiny. These numbers were debunked in 1969 — 50 years ago — by a statistician celebrated by Planned Parenthood.”

As always, “No, Planned Parenthood, we can’t trust you.”

Gene Helsel is pastor of King’s Cross Church in Wenatchee. He can be reached at