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What? Maternal Health not Improved by Abortion?

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Dec 14, 2009

Pro-abortion advocates frequently cite abortion as essential to maternal health, and I suppose that’s true if you regard conception as a disease that needs to be cured. But it's apparently not true in any other sense. A recent report released by the World Economic Forum shows that nations with highly restrictive abortion laws often have the lowest rates of maternal mortality. For example, Ireland and Poland’s maternal mortality rates are lower than those in the United States, where abortion is widespread.

In Ireland, where abortion is outlawed in the Irish constitution, the maternal mortality rate is 1 per 100,000 live births; in the United States, it is 17 per 100,000. In Africa, the lowest maternal mortality rate is in Mauritius, which has fairly restrictive abortion laws, while Ethiopia has a maternal mortality rate of 400 per 100,000 even though it liberalized its abortion laws in recent years. The same pattern exists in South America, where Chile has the best mortality rate while constitutionally protecting the unborn, and Guyana is 30 times worse despite nearly unlimited abortion since 1995. Asia is similar as well. Sri Lanka, which heavily restricts abortion, has a maternal mortality rate fourteen times better than Nepal, which does not restrict abortion.

What does this mean? Well, truthfully it may not mean a great deal. Because there are so many variables in play in different countries and regions, simple statistical comparisons among them are a bit tricky. But it does suggest, at least, that making abortion widely available does not have a significant positive correlation with maternal health. As common sense suggests, the energies of those deeply concerned about maternal health would be far better spent on promoting sound nutrition, proper birthing procedures and better medical care.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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