By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL Director of Education & Research
The abortion industry and its medical and media allies constantly repeat the refrain that abortion is safer than childbirth and that it is an overall health benefit for women. A new report from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), the British pro-life group, says that just isn’t so.
The comprehensive, heavily footnoted 28-page report, titled “Abortion and Women’s Health” looks at several of the physical risks and psychological consequences of abortion. The report is available to download at the SPUC website.
SPUC published the report last week on the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act.
The author of the report is Dr. Greg Pike, from Australia, the Founding Director of the Adelaide Centre for Bioethics and Culture. He has participated in research in neurobiology at the University of Adelaide and worked on trials of new laparoscopic techniques at the department of surgery at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. Dr. Pike has numerous medical and bioethics publications to his credit and has served on different government medical ethics committees in Australia.
Abortion-Related Maternal Mortality
Medical researchers with a long history in the abortion industry have published a figure claiming that abortion is 14 times safer in the U.S. than childbirth. There are a number of problems with this claim, Pike points out. The biggest issue is that the best data gives a very different result.
Pike says “Abortion-related deaths are normally expressed as a proportion of maternal mortality, and are almost always underestimated, being the least well measured.”
What does “as a proportion of maternal mortality” mean?
Though the abortion deaths (at least those that are publicly known) are counted separately, they also get counted as part of the overall maternal mortality – the figure used for childbirth mortality. So instead of a contrast between deaths connected to abortion and those connected to childbirth, what you get is the number of abortion-related maternal deaths against the number of deaths associated with childbirth AND abortion related maternal deaths.
By that standard, unless deaths connected to childbirth are zero, that mortality rate will ALWAYS be higher than that connected to abortion.
For example, if two women died during childbirth and two died from an abortion, the overall maternal mortality would be four: two deaths from childbirth, two deaths from abortion. But the figure for abortion would be just two.
Because every abortion death is added to and raises total mortality on the childbirth side of the ledger, this automatically makes childbirth look more dangerous than it is.
Furthermore, while maternal death connected to child birth is reported, a woman’s death due to abortion may not be reported, or maybe reported as due to some other complication such as miscarriage, hemorrhage, or infection. Pike points out that doctors do not even note whether or not the woman was pregnant or recently pregnant on at least 50% of death certificates.
Consequently, the number of deaths connected to childbirth is too high, because the abortion deaths are not separated out, while the number of deaths connected to abortion is far too low, missing a lot of data [what does “missing a lot of data” mean?].
Pike suggests that data from Finland is much more complete and accurate. There is a national health care system there and a national medical register of all medical encounters for each person. Those figures tell a much different story.
A 2004 study from Finland looked at national medical records from 1987 to 2000. It found that the mortality rate for women giving birth was 28.2 per 100,000. The mortality rate associated with abortion one year after the abortion was 83.1 per 100,000, nearly three times as great.
Finnish studies for both 2015 and 2016 employing the same sort of national data found suicide rates for women following an abortion were about six times what they were for women giving birth. Indeed Pike notes that the risk of suicide was decreased after birth by almost 50% compared to non-pregnant women.
Risks for accidental death and for homicide were also found to be elevated after abortion.
(NRL News Today has reported on the Finnish studies before, but Pike cites those along with newer updated data.)
Exactly what the direct causal chain may be–whether it is the abortion itself that precipitates the maternal death or some psycho-social factor associated with being abortion-minded–has not yet been fully fleshed out. But as Pike documents the data clearly indicates that women choosing childbirth have a lower mortality risk than those choosing to abort.