Two of Concerned Women for America’s (CWA’s) experts are attending the 50th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), held February 27-March 10 at United Nations headquarters in New York. Wendy Wright, CWA’s President, will be directing efforts of the pro-life, pro-marriage, and pro-family citizen lobbyists during the session’s second week. Miss Wright has attended and reported on U.N. conferences on women, population and cloning since 1997.
Dr. Janice Crouse, who heads CWA’s think tank, The Beverly LaHaye Institute, will report on and analyze the current CSW sessions. Dr. Crouse has particular expertise on emphases at this year’s CSW: violence against women, sex trafficking, Convention to End All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), women’s empowerment, and women’s political participation. Her report follows.
At the 50th session of the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women, members of the Pro-life, Pro-family Coalition for Non-Government Organizations are distributing vital information about abortion — information that flies in the face of the conventional leftist wisdom. More importantly, it is information that could mean the difference between life and death for women around the world who hear nothing except positive portrayals of abortion by “women’s rights” advocates. In fact, women around the world hear a constant refrain that abortion is essential to “empowering” women and creating “gender equality.”
The counterbalancing information about abortion and its negative impact on women’s health and well-being from pro-life and pro-family advocates is carefully, meticulously documented. It often comes from the liberal organizations that promote their agenda though headlines that contradict their own research and facts.
Here are some little-known facts about abortion that directly impact women’s health and well-being.
Abortion data is incomplete and/or inaccurate. While abortion is one of the most frequently performed surgical procedures in the United States, it is the least regulated, has less follow-up care, and is remarkably protected from the usual accountability for complications. In fact, abortion has escaped the thorough review, regulation and accountability to which other medical procedures are subjected.1 Doctors report that abortion is seldom identified as the source of problems or death: a medical diagnosis might indicate “severe pain” when the real cause is abortion. The medical records might cite “vaginal bleeding” as the problem when that bleeding stems from an abortion. An operation might be indicated because of a “ruptured ectopic pregnancy and internal hemorrhage” after an abortion fails to end a pregnancy. An autopsy might list as the cause of death “overwhelming sepsis” after an abortion-gone-wrong.2
Medical progress, not the legalization of abortion, reduced maternal deaths. The decrease in maternal mortality coincided with the development of better obstetric techniques — antibiotics, blood transfusions and better management of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy– and improvements in the general health status of women.3 In fact, even the United Nations Population Division and World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledge that there has been no substantial increase in maternal mortality since 1995,4 even though more women than ever had access to legalized abortion. Sadly, they acknowledge that 99 percent of maternal deaths occur in developing countries and that those deaths could be prevented with adequate basic health care and good obstetric care before and after births. WHO also supports the view that improvements in general health and the development of modern obstetric techniques would dramatically (WHO’s word) decrease maternal mortality in developing nations.5
Worldwide data does not support the conclusion that legalizing abortion is responsible for reduced maternal mortality. Ireland, with one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world, has not legalized abortion. The United States, which “legalized” abortion in 1973 and has high general health standards, has a maternal mortality rate that is four times that of Ireland. In Finland, where abortion is legal, a study has shown that the risk of dying within a year after an abortion is several times higher than the risk of dying after miscarriage or childbirth.6
Abortion can be very dangerous for women. Three international health organizations — UNICEF, WHO, UNESCO — have published warnings on abortion. The major problems that women face from separation from the fetus (whether by delivery or abortion) are hemorrhage, infection and obstruction. These risks are relevant in both births and abortions — because the woman who aborts is already experiencing the changes of pregnancy and, thus, faces the risks associated with childbirth.7 Obviously, the risks are greater in developing nations where the general health care is poorer, antibiotics are limited, and clean facilities and drugs for hemorrhage are less available than in developed nations. Experts agree that the key to saving women’s lives — even in developing nations — is to improve overall health care for women rather than to legalize abortion.
Abortion is four times deadlier than childbirth. Abortion advocates routinely claim that childbirth causes six, 10, or 12 times more deaths than abortion. Abortion clinics advertise that legal abortion is many times safer than childbirth. The statistical analysis agency for Finland’s government conducted a very accurate and complete study that reveals: Out of 100,000 women there were 281 cases of maternal deaths; 27 were women who had given birth, 48 were women who had miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies, and 101 were women who had abortions.8 When the researchers calculated ratios, they determined that women who abort are 3.5 times more likely to die within a year than are women who carry to term. More startlingly, the researchers reported that the risk of death from suicide within a year of an abortion is more than seven times higher than the risk of suicide within a year of childbirth.9 A Canadian study revealed similar findings, as did a study of Medicaid payments in Virginia.
Sadly, many women have none of this information about the dangers of abortion. Instead, they know only the front-page information that has become conventional U.S. wisdom. Indeed, only a minute number of abortion deaths are classified as such in official data — which leaves women at the mercy of abortion lies instead of being well-informed about abortion realities.
Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., is a Concerned Women for America representative to the United Nations. She is reporting from New York on the 50th Session of the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women.
Dr. Lenora Benning, M.D., “Abortionists Not Held Accountable for Mistakes, Post-Abortion Review, Vol. 8, Num. 2, June 2000, p. 8. Ibid. A. Macfarlane and M. Mugford, “Birth Counts: Statistics of Pregnancy and Childbirth,” HMSO, London, 1984. Data for the United States (1940-1971) comes from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and from 1972-1985 (the last year for which such abortion data are available) is from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). World Mortality Report, UNDP, 2005; and also 57th World Health Assembly, Report by the Secretariat on Reproductive Health, 15 April 2004, p. 5. Maternal Mortality Global Fact Book, World Health Organization. Kevin Sherlock, Victims of Choice, Brennyman Books, Akron, Ohio, 1996, pp. 134-135. Donna Harrison, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., an obstetrician in the United States and Haiti. M. Gissler, et.al., “Pregnancy-Associated Deaths in Finland, 1987-1994,” Acta Obsetricia et Gynecolgica Scandinavica 76:651-657 (1997). Mika Gissler, Elina Hemmiki. Jouko Lonnqvist, “Suicide After Pregnancy in Finland: 1987-94,” British Medical Journal, 313:1431-4, 1996.