One of abortion advocates’ most seemingly compelling arguments is that abortion is safer than childbirth, and women should not be forced to put their lives in jeopardy for someone else.
It’s a claim that a popular new video from the pro-abortion website Vox touts heavily, but it isn’t true.
First and foremost, abortion never is safer for the unborn child. An abortion almost always destroys an unborn human being’s life. It is not accurate to say that abortion is safer than childbirth for the woman, either. At the very least, researchers point out that the U.S. does not receive enough data from abortion facilities to make that conclusion. Several European studies have refuted the claim even further, concluding that more women die after abortions than childbirth.
Anna Paprocki, an attorney at Americans United for Life, recently wrote an article for The Federalist, refuting the new video’s claims:
After acknowledging that pregnant women are, in fact, mothers, [Vox’s Liz] Plank alleges “abortion is actually safer than childbirth” by comparing two data points from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that the CDC itself has said are not comparable. Maternal mortality and abortion mortality “measures are conceptually different and are used by CDC for different health purposes.” In other words, Plank peddles apples-to-oranges numbers as the basis of her claim.
… The problems with Plank’s defense of abortion run deeper than her euphemisms and faulty use of dissimilar CDC statistics, because U.S. abortion data is known to be incomplete and unreliable.
There is no federal abortion reporting requirement. Even the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute acknowledges that the current “patchwork of surveillance efforts” relies on “incomplete” reports from states and that California—estimated to account for 17 percent, or one out of every six abortions in the country—is one of three states that “do not report to the CDC at all.” Guttmacher uses voluntary reporting from abortionists, filtered through its own ideological lens, which fails to fill these gaping holes.
Other factors compound the poor quality of reporting on abortion and abortion complications. Even pro-abortion advocates have said women face significant obstacles when reporting complaints against abortion providers. Susan Schewel, the executive director of the Women’s Medical Fund in Philadelphia, explained that, in her experience trying to work with women to file complaints with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, “The women found the complaint process so onerous and the telling of their stories so personally difficult that they failed to complete the paperwork and abandoned the effort.”
Abortionists have allegedly discouraged women from being truthful about their abortion complications. A former Planned Parenthood employee’s “whistleblower” lawsuit explains that chemical abortion patients who later experienced significant bleeding were told “to go to an emergency room and report that they were experiencing a spontaneous miscarriage.”
Dr. Byron Calhoun, vice chair of West Virginia University-Charleston’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, published research in 2013 that explained how little data Americans have about abortion complications and maternal deaths. He wrote in the Catholic medical journal Linacre Quarterly:
There are numerous and complicated methodological factors that make a valid scientific assessment of abortion mortality extremely difficult. Among the many factors responsible are incomplete reporting, definitional incompatibilities, voluntary data collection, research bias, reliance upon estimations, political correctness, inaccurate and/or incomplete death certificate completion, incomparability with maternal mortality statistics, and failing to include other causes of death such as suicides. Given the importance of this disclosure about abortion mortality, the lack of credible and reliable scientific evidence supporting this representation requires substantial discussion.
One American study in 2012 received a lot of attention after its data showed that abortion is safer for women than childbirth. However, others refuted the findings, saying the pro-abortion researchers based their claims on unreliable data.
There also is evidence that legalizing abortion does not reduce maternal mortality rates. In countries like Ireland and Poland that largely protect unborn babies from abortion, maternal mortality rates are lower than neighboring countries where abortion is legal. In fact, Ireland has one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world. A study from Chile also found that maternal mortality declined because of better access to health care, not changes in the country’s abortion laws.
Another factor not often considered is women’s deaths by suicide following abortions. A study in The British Medical Journal revealed that women who’ve had one or more abortions are ten times more likely to commit suicide than those who never aborted.
An abortion always destroys one life, and in America, abortions have killed more than 58 million unborn babies since 1973. How many mothers also lost their lives as a result of an abortion, however, tragically remains a mystery.