Medical progress, not the legalization of abortion, reduces maternal deaths

Medical progress, not the legalization of abortion, reduced maternal deaths. The decrease in maternal mortality coincided with the development of better obstetric techniques — antibiotics, blood transfusions and better management of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy– and improvements in the general health status of women.3 In fact, even the United Nations Population Division and World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledge that there has been no substantial increase in maternal mortality since 1995,4 even though more women than ever had access to legalized abortion. Sadly, they acknowledge that 99 percent of maternal deaths occur in developing countries and that those deaths could be prevented with adequate basic health care and good obstetric care before and after births. WHO also supports the view that improvements in general health and the development of modern obstetric techniques would dramatically (WHO’s word) decrease maternal mortality in developing nations.5

Worldwide data does not support the conclusion that legalizing abortion is responsible for reduced maternal mortality. Ireland, with one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world, has not legalized abortion. The United States, which “legalized” abortion in 1973 and has high general health standards, has a maternal mortality rate that is four times that of Ireland. In Finland, where abortion is legal, a study has shown that the risk of dying within a year after an abortion is several times higher than the risk of dying after miscarriage or childbirth.6

The endnotes:

  • A. Macfarlane and M. Mugford, “Birth Counts: Statistics of Pregnancy and Childbirth,” HMSO, London, 1984. Data for the United States (1940-1971) comes from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and from 1972-1985 (the last year for which such abortion data are available) is from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
  • World Mortality Report, UNDP, 2005; and also 57th World Health Assembly, Report by the Secretariat on Reproductive Health, 15 April 2004, p. 5.
  • Maternal Mortality Global Fact Book, World Health Organization.
  • Kevin Sherlock, Victims of Choice, Brennyman Books, Akron, Ohio, 1996, pp. 134-135.
  • The entire story:


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