WHO Study on Abortion’s Frequency, Safety Likely Relies on False Data

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 10, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

WHO Study on Abortion’s Frequency, Safety Likely Relies on False Data Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
October 10,

New York, NY (LifeNews.com) — The World Health Organization has conducted a new study claiming abortions are just as frequent in nations where they are prohibited as those that legalize them. However, if past analysis from the WHO is any indication, the study relies on small sample sizes from one or a handful of nations and can’t be taken as factual.

Under the new study, WHO examined information from 1995 to 2003 and the organization says abortion rates are the same in rich and poor countries and in nations regardless of whether abortions are allowed.

The WHO also claims half of the abortions done worldwide are unsafe, even though supposedly safe and legal abortions frequently cause women medical, emotional or other problems.

According to WHO, most abortions, 35 million, occurring in the developing world and nearly 97% of all unsafe abortions happen in poorer nations.

The group says about 20 percent of all pregnancies end in abortion worldwide, yet abortion rates are higher in industrialized nations that have legalized abortion.

The U.S. abortion rate stood at one-third for decades following abortion’s legalization nationwide in 1973 and only recently lowered to one-fourth.

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.

"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 Typically, a "public source" is a journal article, report, or unpublished document, often from a pro-abortion organization, raising questions about its objectivity.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.

Even the WHO has acknowledged that “data on maternal mortality and other causes of death are often unavailable or, where available, are unreliable due to deficiencies in vital statistics registration systems."

Dr. Joseph Chamie, the former head of the UN Population Division, official statisticians of the UN, states the 500,000 number used for alleged maternal deaths from abortions cannot substantiated and he refused to use it.