Study Confirms Legalizing Abortion Doesn’t Save Women’s Lives

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 1, 2022   |   3:37PM   |   Washington, DC

A new study from an University of Oxford researcher disputes claims that legalizing abortion saves women’s lives.

Abortion activists frequently bring up women dying as a reason to legalize the killing of unborn babies in abortions across the world. They argue that women will die from self-induced and back alley abortions, and link high maternal mortality rates to American states that are working to ban abortions.

But new research on maternal abortion deaths in Ethiopia found that women’s deaths to abortion already had been going down and did not drop significantly after the country legalized abortions in 2005. The study, “Legalisation of abortion and maternal mortality in Ethiopia,” was published this month in the Ethiopian Medical Journal.

“Rather than being a silver bullet to reduce deaths from abortion, abortion legalisation has resulted in a vast increase in the number of abortions, without any appreciable decrease in abortion mortality or maternal mortality,” wrote author Dr. Calum Miller, a British medical doctor and researcher at the University of Oxford.

In other words, legalizing abortions did nothing to save lives. Quite the opposite, more unborn babies are being killed, and some women are still dying, too.

Miller examined data in Ethiopia both before and after the country legalized abortions in 2005. He found that legalizing the killing of unborn babies in abortions “did nothing to prevent morbidity and mortality from illegal abortion – it actually made the problem worse.”

Women’s abortion deaths already were dropping in the African country before 2005, the study found. In the 10 years after the country legalized abortions, maternal deaths to abortion remained about the same. They study cited other research that also found “no statistically significant decrease in abortion mortality” after 2005.

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“If abortion legalization had a significant impact on mortality, we would expect a disproportionate decrease in deaths from abortion,” but that is not what the data shows, the study continued.

Looking at other countries, the study found that in the Netherlands and Rwanda, women’s abortion deaths actually increased proportionately after abortions became legal. In contrast, “deaths from abortion and maternal deaths in general fell” after Poland and Chile banned abortions; both countries have some of the lowest maternal mortality ratios in the world.

It also compared Ethiopia to African countries with pro-life laws and found that the proportion of maternal deaths to abortion were about the same and, in some cases, higher in Ethiopia.

The study also refuted another frequent claim by abortion activists that banning abortions does not stop abortions, it just stops safe abortions.

Citing data from the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, the study pointed out that both abortion numbers and the abortion rate in Ethiopia increased significantly after abortions became legal. It found that the number of abortion complications also doubled after abortions became legal.

It is important to note that data about abortion deaths often lump spontaneous abortions, or miscarriages, together with induced abortions, or the intentional killing of an unborn child; and it is difficult for researchers to find separate numbers. In Miller’s study, abortion deaths refer to both. He explained that one of the reasons why legalizing abortion may not decrease maternal deaths is because legalization does not affect women dying from miscarriages.

Miller’s findings are no surprise to pro-life advocates; abortions kill unborn babies and sometimes mothers, too. Other studies also have found that legalizing abortion does not reduce maternal mortality rates, and abortions may, in fact, be more dangerous for mothers than childbirth.

But the growing evidence makes it more and more difficult for abortion activists to argue their case as it grows increasingly clear that legalizing abortion does not save lives. Quite the opposite.