by Steven Ertelt
June 28, 2007
Nairobi, Kenya (LifeNews.com) — Leaders of ten African nations where abortions are illegal have called on their countries to allow abortions in order to reduce the number of cases of women dying from unsafe abortions. Their calls appear to ignore evidence in industrialized nations that access to better health care, not abortion, reduces maternal mortality.
Kenyan Vice President Moody Awori led the group of political leaders at the Tuesday news conference. The press statements came in association with a three day meeting of pro-abortion activists.
Representatives from Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia attended.
"It is sad to learn that 68,000 women die of unsafe abortion each year and, out of these, 30,000 are in Africa," Awori said, according to the Daily Nation newspaper. "We could simply say there is one unsafe abortion for every seven live births in Africa."
Awori said that the ratification of a protocol that calls for legal abortions in cases of rape, incest, and when the pregnancy endangers the life or health of the woman is "high on Kenya’s agenda."
However, Catholic bishops in the southeastern African nation oppose such a move.
"A state which legalizes abortion most definitely abdicates a very basic reason for its own existence," the bishops said in a statement.
The bishops said that it is "important … to note that abortion has never put an end to women’s social distress but that it simply adds a personal tragedy," adding that "there is no reason or motive that can ever objectively confer the right to dispose of another’s life."
Meanwhile, local pro-life advocates say the forum gave a platform to foreign pro-abortion proponents and doesn’t represent the views of people in the various countries who know that abortion goes against their cultural and religious beliefs.
While reducing illegal abortion deaths is the prime motivation for legalizing abortion, leading researchers say proponents are relying on faulty numbers.
Dr. Randy O’Bannon, Education Director for National Right to Life, has said that the number of illegal abortions in developing countries is likely inflated.
According to the United Nations World Health Organization, 68,000 women die annually due to unsafe abortions.
"The precision implied in such numbers is highly misleading," O’Bannon says. He adds that such figures "are based on meager data and a lot of assumption-laden extrapolations."
Many of these countries do not maintain detailed birth or mortality records, much less abortion statistics, making even the roughest of estimates problematic," he explained.
WHO also relies on what is calls "public source data" to provide illegal abortion death guesses. Typically, a "public source" is a journal article, report, or unpublished document, often from a pro-abortion organization, raising questions about its objectivity.
O’Bannon says these sources of information are unreliable.
In Uruguay, for example, the WHO relies on studies with samples sizes of 5, 14, and 23 individuals to extrapolate the number of deaths due to illegal abortions for the entire country. In addition, the studies were done in the 1970s and 1980s and are not current.
The data may provide anecdotal evidence of abortion-related deaths but does not validate the claims of thousands of such deaths, O’Bannon concludes.
David Reardon, Ph.D., director of the Elliot Institute and one of the leading researchers into physical and emotional damage caused by abortions, also points out that legalizing abortion doesn’t make it any safer. He points out that women still die from legal abortions, even in industrialized nations like the United States and England.
"I absolutely support the international goal of protecting women from unsafe abortions. This is why we must work diligently to prevent legalization of abortion because that only increases the number of women exposed to unsafe abortions. Legal abortion is inherently unsafe," Reardon explains.
Reardon says abortion is known to be linked to higher rates of maternal death, reproductive problems including subsequent premature deliveries and related handicaps among newborns, depression, suicide, substance abuse, and a host of other negative problems impacting women and their families.
"If the international community is serious about protecting women from unsafe abortions, it will work diligently to reverse the trend toward legalized abortion," Reardon concludes.