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UN Health Data Show Liberal Abortion Laws Lead
to Greater Maternal Death
By Aracely Ornelas
(NEW YORK – C-FAM) The world’s largest abortion provider, International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), has recently acknowledged an alarming “surge” in maternal deaths in South Africa, challenging the pro-abortion mantra that liberal abortion laws decrease maternal mortality. Maternal deaths increased by twenty per cent in the period 2005-2007 in South Africa, a country that since 1996 has had one of the most permissive abortion laws on the African continent.
While deaths attributable to HIV/AIDS account for the biggest portion of maternal deaths in South Africa, IPPF acknowledges that a portion of deaths are “due to complications of abortion” in a country where the procedure is legal and widely available.
Developing countries have been badgered in recent years by various United Nations agencies and pro-abortion civil society organizations, including IPPF, to decriminalize abortion as a measure to reduce maternal mortality rates. However, the latest IPPF revelation is the latest fact in a growing body of evidence showing the opposite relationship in which legal abortion and high maternal deaths coincide.
To illustrate, the nation with the lowest African maternal mortality rate is Mauritius, according to a 2009 World Health Organization (WHO) report. Mauritius’ laws are among the continent’s most protective of the unborn. The report further shows how countries that have decriminalized abortion in recent years in response to pressure, such as Ethiopia, have failed to lower dramatic maternal death rates. Ethiopia’s maternal death rate is 48 times higher than in Mauritius.
According to WHO, the country with the lowest maternal mortality rate in South America is Chile, which protects unborn life in its constitution. The country with the highest is Guyana, with a maternal mortality rate 30 times higher than in Chile. Guyana has allowed abortion without almost any restriction since in 1995. Ironically, one of two main justifications used in liberalizing Guyana’s law was to enhance the “attainment of safe motherhood” by eliminating deaths and complications associated with unsafe abortion.
Nicaragua has been in the crosshairs of the international pro-abortion lobby since it amended its law three years ago to grant full protection to prenatal life. Sweden, for example, reportedly cut over $20 million in foreign aid as a result. More recently, Amnesty International issued a report claiming maternal death rates increased following Nicaragua’s law going into effect. Media critics, however, have contested the veracity of Amnesty’s claims , and Nicaraguan government statistics show a decline in maternal deaths since 2006.
Similarly, WHO statistics for the South East Asia region show Nepal, where there is no restriction on the procedure, has the region’s highest rate of maternal mortality. The lowest in the region is Sri Lanka, with a rate fourteen times lower than that of Nepal. According to the pro-abortion public interest law firm Center for Reproductive Rights, Sri Lanka has among the most restrictive abortion laws in the world.
Worldwide, the country with the lowest maternal death rate is Ireland, a nation that prohibits abortion and whose constitution explicitly protects the rights of the unborn