The Truth About Abortion, Childbirth and Maternal Mortality

Bradley Mattes   |   May 12, 2023

The debate over whether abortion is safer than childbirth increased in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan wrote in their dissenting opinion that laws protecting unborn children are killing women.

  • “An American woman is 14 times more likely to die by carrying a pregnancy to term than by having an abortion.”
  • “A ban on abortions increases maternal mortality by 21 percent.”

These far-left justices are good at regurgitating pro-abortion talking points, but how does their political hyperbole stand against sound scientific research?

According to Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie of Miami, it’s a simple scheme of overcounting the deaths related to childbirth and underestimating deaths from abortion. How they do this would be comical if it weren’t so detrimental to the health and wellbeing of American women.

In 2003, states began incorporating the “pregnancy checkbox” when reporting deaths. The box was checked if the woman was pregnant when she died or had been pregnant within the previous year. As this checkbox was incorporated by states, the rate of maternal deaths went through the roof.

Here’s one explanation.

187 women who died in 2013 at age 85 or older and had the pregnancy checkbox checked and were identified as “maternal deaths.”

Plus, women have died from a plethora of nonpregnancy-related causes in the year following a birth and should not be included in this statistic.

Inaccurate reporting is another reason for skewed data. Federal law does not require reporting on abortion, and California – one of the most populous states – does not. Added to that, 23 states don’t require reporting on abortion complications.

But what about research that gathers reliable information? A study in Finland looking at the death certificates of 9,192 women concluded that women are four times more likely to die following an abortion than those who give birth.

Dr. Monique Chireau Wubbenhorst, a former official with the U.S. Agency for International Development and current professor at Drake University School of Medicine, knows the numbers. While testifying before Congress she said, “There are no studies that show that increasing rates of abortion decrease maternal mortality.” She said countries that protect the unborn have the lowest rates of maternal mortality in the world, citing Ireland 5 (2017) and Cyprus 6 (2017).

The Justices’ statement that ending abortion will increase maternal mortality 21 percent is equally vulnerable to close scientific scrutiny.

Most of Europe’s laws on abortion were more protective of unborn babies than America under Roe v. Wade. Further, America had a much higher rate of maternal mortality than the European Union. In 2017, one had to compare Moldova – one of Europe’s poorest countries – with the United States to equal our high rate of maternal mortality (19), even though America spent 41 times more money per person on healthcare than this impoverished nation.

These European nations, which all protect their unborn citizens, have the lowest levels of maternal mortality: Andorra 0, Malta 6 (2017), Monaco 0, and Poland 2 (2017).

A factor unrelated to abortion law increased the U.S. rate of maternal mortality. Last August the Journal of the American Medical Association published a report by lead researcher Rose Molina, MD, a gynecologist and teacher at Harvard Medical School that found a “small but significant increase” in maternal mortality and pregnancy complications during the COVID lockdown. Researchers studied over 1.6 million pregnant women and found that deaths during hospital delivery increased from 5.17 to 8.69 deaths per 100,000 pregnant women.

Regardless of how often abortion advocates repeat the claim that pro-life laws kill women, it remains nothing more than political hyperbole. The empirical evidence shows that women’s lives and health benefit when unborn babies are protected.

Defending life,

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5 thoughts on “The Truth About Abortion, Childbirth and Maternal Mortality

  1. The mother does not own that part of her body where her baby is growng, but God and her husband own it, It is dishonest for her to chose abortion. And God has a purpose for every baby that is conceived and He desires for them to be born to grow into that putpose.

  2. Dear Mr. Sproull,
    First I would like to say that if you have lost a child to abortion, that I grieve for you and your child, and pray that God will send you His peace and consolation.

    While it is true that, in marriage, a wife gives herself to her husband (giving him both rights and responsibilities) and that a husband gives himself to his wife (giving her both rights and responsibilities); I don’t think that “a husband owns a wife’s womb” is a good argument against abortion.
    Many wives get abortions because their husbands bully them into it, acting as though their wives are merely their property and leaving God out of it entirely. And of course, God does not will that the children of the unmarried should be aborted. Every pregnancy confronts us with a choice between good and evil, life and death.

    Also, if feminists read what you said, they will just say: “See, we need abortion to combat patriarchy!” You can’t expect them to have a nuanced understanding of marriage.

    You are absolutely right that God has a purpose for every baby. God bless you in your fight for life.

  3. Dear Mr. Mattes,
    So are you telling me that if a woman gets an abortion and dies from it, that the doctor will check the “pregnancy checkbox” since she was pregnant before the abortion, and the death will be counted as both an abortion death and a maternal death?

    1. Meredith,
      Thank you for your question. If a woman has an abortion and dies from it, it would not be reported as both an abortion death and a maternal death. It would be reported as a maternal death only because the place where the woman dies doesn’t necessarily know what caused the complications that led to death. Women are discouraged at the abortion facilities from telling emergency room personnel that they had an abortion.

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