A major British news outlet issued a correction this week after a pro-life scholar debunked its claim that “roughly 12,000 women die from back street abortions” every year in Malawi.
The correction published by The Telegraph is a major victory for truth in the abortion debate as leftist news outlets and pro-abortion groups frequently misinform readers about abortion facts.
At issue was a Feb. 19, 2021 article in The Telegraph that referenced data from the Guttmacher Institute and the Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Malawi College of Medicine. Based on the pro-abortion groups’ report, the newspaper estimated that “roughly 12,000 women die from back street abortions each year in Malawi …”
However, Dr. Calum Miller, an Oxford University researcher and medical doctor, looked into the claim and published research that thoroughly refuted the death estimate.
This week, The Telegraph cited Miller’s research in its correction, writing, “… a closer examination of the joint report, which is publicly available, shows that this estimate of 12,000 women dying from backstreet abortions annually is unsupported by the data contained in the report.”
The correction continued:
In fact the number of deaths from back street abortion in Malawi is likely to be far lower. For example, a report published by the World Bank Group in conjunction with the WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, and the United Nations Population Division in 2019 estimated 2,100 maternal deaths in total in Malawi each year, and only a small proportion of these are attributable to unsafe abortion. An analysis of the varying data by Dr Calum Miller can be found in this published report https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
Miller celebrated the correction from The Telegraph but pointed out that the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists still has not corrected the “outright falsehoods” about maternal abortion deaths on its website.
“I’m glad to live in a country where there was a mechanism to keep the newspaper accountable for what it publishes,” he responded on Twitter. “But why is there no mechanism to hold to account the RCOG, which has a Royal Charter, represents a significant group of doctors, whose credibility is essential, and who have a significant platform in the public sphere and in government?
“I will always keep fighting for truth for the UK public. It is a shame the @RCObsGyn are so determined to mislead the public on political topics like abortion,” Miller continued.
According to The Telegraph, the Ministry of Health and the Parliamentary Committee on Health also cited the false data at a press conference last year.
In his research, Miller found that the estimated 12,000 back alley abortion deaths in Malawi was completely false.
“The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recently tweeted a claim from The Telegraph that 12,000 women in Malawi die from unsafe abortions each year. But the latest estimate for total maternal deaths in Malawi each year is 1,150 – less than 10% of that figure,” he wrote last year.
Miller pointed to evidence suggesting that “only 6-7% of these deaths are due to miscarriage and induced abortion combined. Hence, the RCOG has overestimated the number of deaths at least one-hundredfold. Such radical overestimates are not uncommon.” His research also cited studies that indicate most of these women’s deaths were due to miscarriages, not elective abortions.
His research paper also pointed to data that indicates making abortion legal does not improve maternal mortality. In Chile and Poland, Miller found that “abortion mortality and maternal mortality continued falling after abortion was criminalised.”
Abortion activists have been overestimating the number of women who die in back alley abortions for decades. In the U.S., Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a former abortionist and co-founder of NARAL, admitted later in life that their “statistics” claiming thousands of women died every year from back alley abortions were false.