Does Legalizing Abortion Abroad Protect Women’s Health?

Analysis shows that modern medicine, not abortion, holds the key to reducing maternal mortality in the developing world.

Abortion supporters claim that legalization of abortion reduces abortion-related deaths, but the evidence suggests that modern medicine and quality health care — not legal abortion — hold the key to reducing maternal mortality in the developing world.

An analysis of World Health Organization and U.N. documents released today by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach (MCCL) shows the impact of improved medical care and legalized abortion on maternal mortality rates in several countries.

Scott Fischbach, executive director of MCCL, presented the findings today in Geneva and called on the World Health Assembly to focus on the improvement of women’s health care in the developing world.

“We have known for decades that most maternal deaths can be prevented with adequate nutrition, basic health care, and good obstetric care throughout pregnancy, at delivery, and postpartum,” Fischbach said in a statement. “Yet some in the international community have focused resources primarily on legalizing abortion, in many cases at the expense of women’s lives.”

The analysis, “Does Legalizing Abortion Protect Women’s Health?” reveals that legal abortion means more abortion. In South Africa, abortions rose from an estimated 1,600 in 1996 — the year before abortion was legalized — to 85,621 in 2005. In the U.S., abortions have increased from an estimated 500,000 a year just before Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973 to a peak of 1.4 million in 1990.

In the developing world, the danger of legalized abortion is profound, the analysis found.

For example, in India, abortion is broadly legal, but maternal deaths are common due to dangerous medical conditions.

“Women generally at risk because they lack access to a doctor, hospital or antibiotics before abortion’s legalization will face those same circumstances after legalization," Fischbach said. "And if legalization triggers a higher demand for abortion, as it has in most countries, more injured women will compete for those scarce medical resources."

Sri Lanka — where abortion is largely illegal — has reduced its maternal mortality rate by making professional midwives and supervisory nurse-midwives available in rural areas and by providing appropriate drugs and equipment, improved communication and transportation.

As one of his first acts in office, President Barack Obama lifted the Mexico City Policy, which means U.S. tax dollars now fund groups that perform or promote abortion overseas.

“We’ve seen evidence in the Obama administration of trying to tie legalization of abortion to aid in the developing world," said Bill Poehler, communications director for MCCL.

"We don’t believe other countries should be held hostage and (forced to) change their pro-life laws so they can receive aid for health care and other needs."

Source: Citizenlink
Publish Date: May 21, 2009
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