Opinion

Think abortion restrictions increase maternal mortality? Think again.

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The World Health Organization defines maternal mortality as “the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes.” Abortion advocates say pro-life legislation leads to high maternal mortality rates — but the facts don’t.

Poland, Ireland, and Malta ban most abortions, yet all three have better maternal mortality rates than the United States. Chile’s rates kept falling even after pro-life laws were enacted. Meanwhile, Mexican states with permissive abortion rules actually have higher mortality rates than those with more restrictive ones.

Nevertheless, abortion supporters predicted that pro-life measures in Texas would endanger women. They opposed defunding Planned Parenthood (America’s largest abortion chain), as well as raising health and safety standards on abortion facilities (many shut down rather than comply). Last month, a study appeared to confirm those fears.

Published in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Medical Journal, it claimed maternal mortality had doubled between 2011 and 2012. As a potential culprit, abortion advocates pointed to the pro-life measures listed above, arguing abortion access is an “important factor in maternal mortality.” It’s a convenient theory.

It’s just not accurate.

First off, Live Action News’ Rebecca Downs has discussed some issues with the researcher’s claims. But there’s a more basic problem with blaming pro-life policies for any increase in maternal mortality between 2011 and 2012: at the time, they didn’t exist.

Thanks to litigation, Planned Parenthood’s funding continued until 2013. As for raising health and safety standards on abortion facilities, that law wasn’t signed until 2013 either. And what did the maternal mortality rate do the year after that? Well… it went down.

While the facts don’t indict pro-lifers, many in the media and academia do, and they’re happy to make up their own. This month, an NPR story claimed the maternal mortality rate doubled in Texas between 2011 and 2014. Recently, a friend told me how a professor cited it in her college class. That’s discouraging, but it shouldn’t hold us back.

Tell Congress to redirect Planned Parenthood’s half billion dollar subsidy to federally qualified health centers and community health centers–places offering care to those with limited means. They’re more accessible and offer services Planned Parenthood won’t. Of course, the abortion movement will issue the same dark warnings as they did in Texas; their agenda doesn’t seem to change.

Neither should ours.

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