U.N. Official Admits Legal Abortions Aren’t Safe for Women

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 22, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

U.N. Official Admits Legal Abortions Aren’t Safe for Women

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
May 22, 2004

New York, NY (LifeNews.com) — At an international population conference last week, a World Health Organization (WHO) official admitted that legal abortions aren’t safe for women.

While U.N. leaders and abortion advocacy groups claim the unsafe nature of illegal abortions in many countries around the world ought to require legalization of abortion, they are often reluctant to acknowledge the damaging role legal abortion plays in the lives of women.

"Up to 20% of maternal deaths are due to abortion, even in those situations were abortion is legal there is a question whether ‘safe’ abortion is safe," said Dr. Gunta Lazdane, the European Regional Adviser to WHO on Reproductive Health and Research, according to the Friday Fax.

Lazdane’s statement is contrary to the WHO’s regular claim that legal abortion is safe, and only illegal abortions are unsafe — a position that pro-life advocates have pointed out is not backed up by facts.

"The percentage of maternal deaths due to abortion in undeveloped countries is unclear, and often exaggerated. Where abortion has been legalized, however, we know as certainty that legalization has not made it safe. Instead, legalization has only served to expose a larger number of women to the physical and psychological complications associated with abortion," David Reardon, director of the Elliot Institute, told LifeNews.com.

"In the most basic measure, that of mortality, we know that women who have legal abortions face elevated mortality rates compared women who have not been pregnant, women who carry to term, and women who miscarry," Reardon explained. "Abortion is inherently unsafe."

A 1997 WHO document entitled "Unsafe Abortion: Global and Regional Estimates of Incidence of Mortality Due to Unsafe Abortion" typifies the unverified claims of the WHO and other pro-abortion international organizations, such as the UN Population Fund.

According to the document, "Estimates for 1990 indicate that almost 30 million legal terminations of pregnancy were performed. Millions of abortions, however, were performed outside the legal system, often by unskilled providers, and these abortions are unsafe."

President Bush has been at odds with such groups after reinstating the pro-life Mexico City Policy that prevents taxpayer funding of foreign abortions.

In July, the Kemp-Kasten law prohibiting taxpayer funding of population control programs that involve coercion was reinstated by the passage of an amendment sponsored by pro-life Reps. Smith, Jim Oberstar (D-MN), and Henry Hyde (R-IL).

Lawmakers say that the U.N. should focus less on making abortion legal and more on stopping the practice of forced abortions.

"Since 1979, the UN Population Fund has been the chief apologist for China’s coercive one-child-per-couple policy," Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) told his fellow legislators during debates over US support of the UNFPA earlier this year.

"Despite numerous credible forced abortion reports from impeccable sources, including human rights organizations, journalists, former Chinese population control officials and, above all, from the women victims themselves, officials at the UNFPA always found a way to explain it all away," Smith said.

Opponents of the amendment to cut UNFPA funding said it would remove funding from programs that help women such as prenatal care and efforts to reduce infant mortality rates. However, Congressman Smith said every dollar denied to the UNFPA would be used to fund such programs.

"We are the largest spender for family planning and nobody will be denied anything — it just won’t go through the U.N.," Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) added.

Lawmakers have also disagreed about a recent investigation conducted by the State Department showing that the U.N. either aids or looks the other way at China’s coercive population programs.

The report indicated China "has in place a regime of severe penalties on women who have unapproved births."

It went on to say, "This regime plainly operates to coerce pregnant women to have abortions in order to avoid the penalties … UNFPA’s support of, and involvement in, China’s population planning activities allows the Chinese government to implement
more effectively its program of coercive abortion."