Here’s a tidbit you are unlikely to get from the Women’s Studies Center: Mothers in countries with restrictive abortion laws are healthier than those in nations which have abortion on demand. Indeed, a new study by a trio of academics asserts that lack of access to abortion is a problem for women even while displaying data that lead to the opposite conclusion.
In fact, the authors of the study, Measuring the Global Gender Gap , observe that:
- “Approximately 80% of maternal deaths could be averted if women had access to essential maternity and basic healthcare services”; and
- “The five major direct causes of maternal death in developing countries are severe bleeding, infection, hypertension, complications from unsafe abortion and prolonged/ obstructed labour.”
The report was compiled by Ricardo Hausmann of Harvard , Laura D. Tyson of Berkeley  and Saadia Zahidi of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Geneva-based (Switzerland, that is) group that published the study. Tyson very famously served in the Clinton Administration, chairing the Council of Economic Advisors.
Ironically, the authors show in tables that the country with arguably the toughest abortion laws in the world—Ireland—also boasts the best record on maternal health and that’s not all. Looking at those same UN numbers used by the WEF, Samantha Singson of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute found that :
- “The African nation with the lowest maternal mortality rate is Mauritius, a country with some of the continent’s most protective laws for the unborn;
- “On the other end of the spectrum is Ethiopia, which has decriminalized abortion in recent years in response to global abortion lobby pressure. Ethiopia’s maternal death rate is 48 times higher than in Mauritius;
- “South Africa has the continent’s most liberal abortion laws and also a high maternal mortality ratio of 400 deaths per 100,000;
- “Chile, with constitutional protection for the unborn, outranks all other South American countries as the safest place for women to bear children;
- “The country with the highest maternal mortality is Guyana, with a 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 for liberalizing Guyana’s law was to enhance the ‘attainment of safe motherhood’ by eliminating deaths and complications associated with unsafe abortion.”
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia .