Study Falsely Claims Abortion Bans Cause Higher Maternal Mortality Rates

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Dec 15, 2022   |   11:10AM   |   Washington, DC

A widely publicized new study is being used to vilify pro-life laws by linking states that protect unborn babies with higher maternal death rates.

The study comes from the Commonwealth Fund, a pro-abortion research group that suggested the problem could be solved by allowing more unborn babies to be killed in elective abortions.

Laurie Zephyrin, a co-author of the study, told USA Today states should expand access to abortions if they want to improve maternal and infant health.

Published Wednesday, the study found that the maternal death rate in 2020 was 62 percent higher in states with pro-life laws that limit or ban abortions, according to the report. Additionally, in 2019, infant deaths in pro-life states were 15 percent higher within the first week of their birth, the study found.

Researchers also discovered less access to maternal medical care in pro-life states compared to pro-abortion states, “including 32% fewer obstetricians to births and 59% fewer certified nurse midwives to births,” according to USA Today.

The researchers predicted that the problem could get worse now that Roe v. Wade is gone because “some maternity care providers have been reported to be reluctant to work in states where they might face legal challenges to their practice.”

However, last year in New Mexico, some warned of the opposite: that doctors and nurses would leave the state after the legislature repealed a pro-life law with conscience protections for medical workers who oppose abortion. Additionally, very few OB-GYNs perform elective abortions because they know killing unborn babies is not health care.

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That has not stopped pro-abortion Democrats and abortion activists from attacking pro-life lawmakers on the issue anyway, claiming killing unborn babies in elective abortions is “health care.” The Biden administration even has been blaming pro-life lawmakers for the high maternal mortality rates while quietly rejecting these same lawmakers’ plans to protect women’s lives by expanding Medicaid in their states.

Pro-life laws are not to blame for mothers dying.

In 2020 (the year that the new research focuses on), elective abortions were widely available in every state – and much less restricted than almost every other country in the world. While some states did have pre-viability abortion bans in 2020, none were in effect because of Roe.

What’s more, the link between protections for unborn babies and high maternal mortality rates has been debunked numerous times. One problem is the way the United States tracks maternal mortality.

According to a Washington Post fact check in 2019:

As ProPublica has documented, maternal mortality statistics in the United States are incomplete and highly suspect, prone to undercounting and overcounting. Since 2003, states have added a checkbox to death certificates, asking whether a person was pregnant when they died or had been in the previous year. But the data collection is not consistent, and the addition of a checkbox appears to have resulted in many false positives. As a result, since 2007 the United States hasn’t had an official annual count of pregnancy-related fatalities, or even an official maternal mortality rate. So anyone trying to tie a link between abortion laws and mortality rates is going to run into trouble.

The fact check debunked claims that maternal mortality rates spiked in Texas after the state defunded Planned Parenthood and other abortion groups of state tax dollars, saying the claim relied on “bad data.”

Other experts point to evidence from across the world that legalizing the killing of unborn babies in abortions does not improve women’s health.

Dr. Monique Chireau Wubbenhorst, a former U.S. Agency for International Development official and professor at Duke University School of Medicine, told Congress in September that countries with pro-life laws have some of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world.

“… until recently in countries where abortion was criminalized and prohibited, I’m thinking particularly of Chile, Ireland and, I think, Cyprus had the lowest rates of maternal mortality in the world. For several years consecutively, Ireland had zero maternal mortality at a time when abortion was completely illegal,” Wubbenhorst said.

In an August article, Dr. David Albert Jones, director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre and research fellow at Blackfriars Hall Oxford, confirmed much the same, writing:

It has been argued repeatedly that without access to abortion, the health of women will suffer and women will die. …

These concerns are real. But comparison with Europe shows that such dire outcomes are not preordained. Many of Europe’s abortion laws are stricter than many Americans may realize, and the issue is less of a political fixation, but maternal health outcomes in Europe are much better.

Some studies suggest the widespread legalization and availability of elective abortions harm women as well as kill their unborn babies. In a column at The Federalist in October, Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, a radiology specialist in Florida, pointed to studies that show abortions are more dangerous than childbirth for mothers.

She wrote:

A Finnish study, for example, found that women are four times more likely to die in the year following abortion than women who give birth. In fact, women who had given birth had a lower death rate than women who had not been pregnant at all. Closer to home, a study using a complete data set recovered from California state insurance records showed twice as many women died in the two years after an abortion than after a birth (see table 1 of page 2). Causes of death in these post-abortive women included complications from the procedure — sepsis and hemorrhage, for example — though the most common causes were “indirect”: suicide, homicide, overdose, and other risk-taking behaviors.

So, when pro-abortion activists say, “childbirth is vastly more dangerous than abortion,” they don’t have the data to support it.

Pro-life laws save lives: mothers and babies. Tens of thousands of doctors confirm that killing unborn babies is not health care, and studies show that there are many physical and psychological risks of abortion to mothers.

The overturning of Roe will lead to more lives being saved – a fact that abortion activists desperately want Americans to ignore. Currently, 14 states are enforcing pro-life laws that ban or heavily restrict the killing of unborn babies in abortions, and eight more are fighting in court to do the same.

Since June, new research indicates these laws have saved an estimated 10,000 unborn babies lives.