Abortion advocates are perpetually promoting the claim that abortion is safer than child birth. They assert that if we want to decrease maternal mortality around the world, we need to promote abortion. A new study published this month in Denmark demonstrates the falsity of this claim, finding that both early and late abortion is associated with a significantly higher risk of death to the mother than is child birth.
In this study the researchers reviewed medical records for almost half a million women who had their first pregnancies between 1980 and 2004. They compared these records with the death register and the abortion register. Because they wanted to control for the unknown effects of previous pregnancies, the researchers focused on maternal mortality associated with first pregnancy only.
The results were conclusive: women who gave birth to their children had lower pregnancy-associated mortality rates than women who had early or late abortions. This was true for every time period measured—from 180 days to 10 years.[i]
Specifically, the researchers found that when other factors are held constant, early-abortions (before 12 weeks gestation) account for an 80% greater risk of mortality in the first year and a 40% greater risk of mortality over 10 years compared to the risk for women who gave birth.[ii]
The Danish study compliments similar data coming out of Chile and Ireland, within the last year. All three studies point to the same conclusion—legalizing abortion does not decrease maternal mortality rates. Abortion is not safer than childbirth. Rather, the reverse is true. Childbirth is safer.
The Chilean study compared the rates of maternal mortality for the time when abortion was legal in Chili and after it was made illegal. The study found that the maternal mortality ratio decreased by almost 70 % in the fourteen years after abortion was made illegal.[iii]
The Irish study compared maternal mortality rates in Ireland (where abortion is illegal) to England and Scotland (where abortion is legal). Researchers found that maternal mortality rates in Ireland were much lower than in England or Scotland.
Chile has the lowest maternal mortality rate in Latin America, and Ireland has the lowest maternal mortality rate in the world—clearly their pro-life policies are having a positive effect on women’s health.
With the release of every new study proving that legalizing abortion does not reduce maternal mortality, the myth that abortion is safer that child birth is being exposed for the falsehood it is.
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[i] David C. Reardon and Priscilla K. Coleman, Short and long term mortality rates associate with first pregnancy outcome: Population register based study for Denmark 1980-2004, 18(9) Medical Science Monitor, 71-76 (September 1, 2012), at 72.
[ii] Id. at 73.
[iii] Koch E, Thorp J, Bravo M, Gatica S, Romero CX, et al., Women’s Education Level, Maternal Health Facilities, Abortion Legislation and Maternal Deaths: A Natural Experiment in Chile from 1957 to 2007, PLoS ONE (May 4, 2012), at 9.