A new paper published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology found that Texas recently experienced an unusual uptick in maternal mortality. The paper, entitled Recent Increases in the U.S. Maternal Mortality Rate, found that the number of women who died during or shortly after pregnancy doubled from 2010 to 2012. Although the journal concludes that further research is required to investigate the cause of this “puzzling” increase, abortion advocates have already – and wrongly – blamed Pro-Life legislation for the change.
The paper studied maternal mortality rates throughout the United States between the years of 2000-2014. Here we have to pause to consider the definition of maternal mortality. According to the World Health Organization, which provides the most widely-accepted definition:
Maternal death is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes…
In other words, maternal mortality is the pregnancy-related death of any woman who is pregnant at the time of death or who dies within 42 days of the end of her pregnancy (for the purposes of this definition, “termination” simply means the ‘end’ of the pregnancy, regardless of how that end occurred). The definition’s absorption of almost any death during or shortly after the end of pregnancy (including following an abortion) may be one of the abortion industry’s biggest allies because they can claim there are no deaths or notable complications from botched abortions.
Texas data proved the most bewildering of the research, with data showing a “modest increase in maternal mortality from 2000 to 2010,” but a doubling from 2011-2012. Study authors note “some changes in the provision of women’s health services in Texas” during that time, but acknowledge that future analysis is needed to examine these findings.
Abortion activists, on the other hand, concocted a narrative in which Pro-Life laws are the culprit of the staggering uptick in maternal mortality.
Representatives from NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas have faulted the state for removing abortion-affiliated businesses from the taxpayer-funded Women’s Health Program – a change that did not take effect until 2012. The goal of the change was to provide Texas women with clean healthcare options disentangled from the anti-Life philosophies that dominate abortion businesses. In fact, a host of federally-qualified healthcare providers unaffiliated with the devastating practice of abortion were ready to provide professional Pro-Life medical care at the time of the change.
But Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses were still part of the Family Planning program through most of 2011, and the abortion industry was part of the Women’s Health Program until November 2012, so the uptick in maternal mortality from 2011-2012 predated the abortion industry’s exodus from the taxpayer-funded health services.
Thus, implications that the bizarre increase in maternal mortality resulted from the changes to women’s health programs defy the timeline of the change.
Furthermore, even though the abortion industry continued to shutter across the state, the maternal mortality rate decreased after 2012. If there were a relationship between maternal mortality and reduced access to abortion facilities masquerading as women’s health clinics, the mortality rate would have soared in tandem with these closures.
State and federal reporting laws must seek to better serve pregnant mothers, meaning that maternal mortality reporting must be consistent and regular. And women deserve to know when maternal mortality is attributable to elective abortion – something that is nearly impossible to monitor today. Don’t be fooled: there is no benefit to women when foes of Life crusade against comprehensive reporting regulations, safety provisions, and abortion industry oversight.