At least, it’s deadly when it’s performed in unsafe conditions. Every year, 68,000 women die due to unsafe abortions, of which there are 19 million. In addition, 5 million women have to be hospitalized due to complications arising from unsafe abortions.
Lead researcher Dr Susheela Singh said: “The evidence shows that the health burden of unsafe abortion is large.
“The most effective way of eliminating this highly preventable cause of maternal illness and death, would be to make safe and legal abortion services available and accessible.
“A second, more immediately achievable, goal is to prevent unintended pregnancies in the first place through improved contraception use.”
Also writing in The Lancet, Marge Berer, editor of the journal Reproductive Health Matters, said the study painted a grim picture.
“The burden of injury and hospital admission are all the worse for being almost always avoidable.
“When legal restrictions on abortion are reduced, the rate of deaths and morbidity decreases greatly.”
Predictably, the wingnuts are going crazy because of the study; Lifesite’s article puts scarequotes around the word “study” and says that it’s “based on pro-abortion guesses,” even though the WHO reached the exact same numbers in a study from 2004 based on figures from 2000.
Like the previous controversial study published in the Lancet, this study is facing criticism that’s long on ideologicaly platitudes and short on facts. The only concrete piece of evidence anti-choicers are fielding in opposition to the study’s conclusion that legalization of abortion increases its level of safety is the experience of Poland, which “imposed new legal restrictions on abortion in the mid 1990s and consequently showed improved maternal and infant health.”
Poland outlawed abortion in almost all cases in 1993. Its infant, child, and maternal mortality rates had been falling before 1993 and kept falling afterward, because of the tremendous economic growth that followed the fall of communism. Similar trends in maternal mortality can be observed in Romania, Hungary, and the three Baltic states.
In fact, Romania, where this trend was strongest, achieved it mostly due to legalizing abortion. The WHO report linked above has a nifty graph of Romania’s maternal mortality rate (p. 3 on paper, or 9 in the PDF file), which went up by 50% of almost two in the four years following Ceausescu’s ban on abortion, with the rate of abortion-related deaths going up by 200%, and then crashed by 50% in the first year after abortion was legalized.
The bodies of women who died in self-induced abortions look more horrific than aborted 22-week-old fetuses. The only differences between the two are that you don’t need to magnify a picture of a dead woman ten times for people to be able to see it, and that pro-choicers have enough scientific facts behind them that they don’t need to resort to these emotional appeals.
Like an individual fascist or communist, an individual anti-choicer need not be a murderer. But the policies he supports usher in millions of injuries and myriads of deaths every year, and retard the development of tens of third-world countries. Suppressing individual rights is murderous regardless of whether it’s in the name of some god, the state, the working class, or the rights of blastulas.