World Health Organization Falsely Claims Legalizing Abortions Reduces Maternal Mortality

International   |   Scott Fischbach   |   May 21, 2015   |   8:27AM   |   New York, NY

The World Health Organization (WHO) has just released a new report concerning the global problem of maternal mortality.

The document correctly notes that while maternal mortality ratios (MMRs) have declined, this issue “remains an unfinished agenda and one of the world’s most critical challenges.”

Unfortunately, however, WHO states in its report that “treaty monitoring bodies have … linked elevated rates of maternal mortality to … restrictive abortion laws [and] unsafe or illegal abortion.” But WHO cites only old, and flawed, reviews. The truth is that maternal mortality depends on the quality of maternal health care, not the legal status of abortion.

Some countries prohibit abortion and have very low MMRs; others permit abortion and have very high MMRs. Legalizing abortion is demonstrably unnecessary to improve maternal health and save women’s lives.

WHO also asserts that maternal deaths from abortion “are likely to be underreported or misclassified” and have recently “increased significantly in sub-Saharan Africa.” The problem, however, is that we lack accurate data about the number of lives lost to abortion.

As the WHO report acknowledges, “Only an estimated one third of countries have the capacity to count or register maternal deaths.” That’s why “estimation is necessary to infer MMRs in many countries where little or no data are available.” Such estimates have too often proved inflated and unreliable.

Click here to sign up for daily pro-life news alerts from

No one knows exactly how many unborn children and mothers die from abortion worldwide each year. But we do know that providing adequate care—before, during and after childbirth—and establishing a robust and accessible health care system can prevent maternal deaths. That’s how lives are saved.

Abortion doesn’t save anyone. It poses its own inherent risks to women. The safest abortion in the world is the one that is never performed. Note:  Scott Fischbach is the executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life and heads its international outreach MCCL Go.