Former UNFPA Head Promotes Abortion With Misleading Math

International   |   Rebecca Oas, Ph.D   |   Jan 28, 2014   |   10:27AM   |   New York, NY

“Champion of Choice” and former UNFPA chief Nafis Sadik spoke at the 7th Asia-Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights this week.  UNFPA reports:

“Dr. Sadik offered a candid assessment of achievements since 1994 but also of unfinished challenges. Maternal mortality has been reduced by 40 per cent worldwide, less than the 75 per cent reduction in 20 years that the ICPD called for. Deaths due to unsafe abortion have not declined at all. Fertility rates have fallen sharply, but the number of women with an unmet need for contraception has not, and family planning has slipped in the global development agenda.”

sadikMaternal morality has declined worldwide.  It is an umbrella term that includes such causes as postpartum hemorrhage, maternal sepsis, maternal hypertension, and other causes.  It also includes deaths resulting from abortion.  The relative proportion of maternal mortality attributable to abortion has remained fairly constant at about 13% over the same period of time that maternal mortality has declined by 40%.  In other words, deaths from abortion have declined, at a rate proportionate to other maternal causes of death – by about 40%.

Based on these facts, there is every reason to think that maternal mortality can be reduced by the full 75% called for by ICPD, and all without creating a right to abortion.

Why is this important?  Maternal health improvements are largely due to the kind of healthcare and infrastructure improvements that have had huge results in Latin America.  Decent roads, access to trained medical workers, high-quality modern equipment, sanitary conditions, and so on.  These things not only benefit expectant mothers, but everyone else as well.  And even if abortion is illegal, a woman is far less likely to die from one if health standards are high overall.  Again, see Latin America, particularly the work of demographer Dr. Elard Koch.



Abortion proponents have hitched their wagon to the proposition that maternal health cannot be improved without them.  We know that it can – but their flawed argument will persist until giving birth becomes safe everywhere. Note: Rebecca Oas writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Turtle Bay and Beyond blog and is used with permission.