Study: Abortion is safer than giving birth

A new study has revealed that abortion is a procedure that is not only safer than giving birth, but people are 14 times more likely to die during childbirth than during an abortion:

Dr. Elizabeth Raymond from Gynuity Health Projects in New York City and Dr. David Grimes of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, found that between 1998 and 2005, one woman died during childbirth for every 11,000 or so babies born.

That compared to one woman of every 167,000 who died from a legal abortion.

The researchers also cited a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which found that, from 1998 to 2001, the most common complications associated with pregnancy — including high blood pressure, urinary tract infections and mental health conditions — happened more often in women who had a live birth than those who got an abortion.

But what’s truly notable about the study is that the findings blatantly contradict state laws in place that not only restrict abortion on the premise that the procedure itself is not safe, but literally force doctors to give medically unsound information about (in other words, exaggerate the fuck out of) abortion health risks.

This hasn’t been the first time I’ve seen similar info about the risks of abortion v. childbirth, but considering the starkness of difference here, I can’t imagine that this study couldn’t be used as pretty powerful evidence to challenge some of these state laws.

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  • Stella

    I totally agree with this post. I just had to raise, as a side-note, that giving birth is very dangerous in the USA as compared to most of the rest of the developed world (of course it is far safer than in developing countries; see Amnesty International report below). This is despite the fact that we spend more on maternity care here in the US than anywhere else.

    Without getting into a debate on the reasons behind this, the fact is that maternal mortality is far higher here in the US than it needs to be. We need to make sure that both abortion and evidence-based, woman-centered (and therefore safer) maternity care are available to all US women. Many of our peer countries are doing this — we should look at their systems and fight to get here what they have!

  • Jack

    Yeah abortion is much safer. Except for the fetus, of course.

    • Stella

      It would be one thing if government-enforced pregnancy advocates always stuck to the argument that “abortion is murder,” like most Catholics do. I disagree with that argument, but I can respect it. The point of the original post is that these folks often use other arguments (i.e., abortion is an unsafe procedure, abortion hurts women’s mental health, etc) and those arguments are factually incorrect based on the data we have. Again, especially here in the USA where we have a broken maternity care system and next to zero support for women with children to earn a living.

  • F.Toth

    True, but anti-choicers DON’T CARE about women, only about fetuses. Their response is, “It’s not safe for your unborn BABY.”

  • Hari B

    Gah–I hate this kind of study. And being firmly pro-choice, that first statement has nothing to do with the ways the study can be used to support safe abortion. I suppose I can be glad enough that it does support safe abortion. Still, this kind of study is so extremely limited in scope as to be nearly useless as a measure of anything meaningful; for that reason it can be used in all kinds of unrelated and similarly political ways. Just one for-instance: to make womyn even more afraid of pregnancy/birth than we are already asked to feel everyday by the medical institution, for largely false reasons.

    Not to say that pregnancy/birth have no risks–as a mom and midwife, I know they do. In those same capacities I know as well how much fear-mongering pregnant/birthing womyn face–primarily for the profit-mongering purposes of the med/pharm complex, not for real reasons of safety. Another topic there, so I’ll leave it at that. Just saying, I see a great potential for mischief-making of various kinds with the stats from this study.

    Anyway, it’s a very limited-scope study, and therein lies the reason it can and doubtless will be used for all manner of other, and also highly political purposes. I can’t wait to hear from the anti-abortionists who will twist it to their own purposes, as I’m sure they will (probably on the side of fetuses, as an earlier poster immediately demonstrated). I understand the will to use ‘medical science’ on the side of pro-choice, since it seems to be our latest religion no matter how flawed it is. And I believe there is no way that abortion rights will ever be made secure on any basis other than constitutional grounds of separation of church and state and other inalienable individual rights.

  • Gwenfrewi Morgan

    Well, that’s odd. The Irish maternal mortality rate is only 1 per 100,000, – the lowest in the world – although abortion is severely restricted there.

    • Stella

      Just to offer some explanation in response to Gwenfrewi’s comment, this whole debate comes from the language of Roe v. Wade, the US Supreme Court case that said laws illegalizing some abortions are unconstitutional (link to case below).

      Part of the Court’s the reasoning for why laws restricting first trimester abortions are the most problematic under the Constitution was that (in 1973) during the first trimester, the risk of death from abortion was less than the risk of death from pregnancy. Since then, people looking to overturn Roe have focused on the fact that, due to “advances” in medical care, that is no longer true. If it is still true, that lessens the arguments for overturning Roe completely. Of course I am grossly oversimplifying the current state of constitutional law on abortion here.