Earlier this year the website Upworthy blasted this wild headline into the social media universe: Every 10 Minutes, a Woman Dies Because She Can’t Get an Abortion. It Sent This Woman to Sea. The woman is Rebecca Gomperts, and she’s made a name for herself by committing abortions on a ship in international waters. For now let’s deal with the blatant lie in the headline: that women die because they can’t get abortions. Maternal death from lack of abortion is not just uncommon; the phenomenon is nonexistent.
Nonetheless, facts do not deter radical abortion activists from making this false statement on a daily basis. Specifically, the fudged statistic in this piece was that “47,000 women die every year” in countries where mothers cannot legally kill their children in abortion.
The fact that some pregnancies are life-threatening to the mother is very real. The fact that thousands of pregnant women die because they cannot access adequate medical care is very real. The fact that women die because they cannot kill their children, however, is very fake. This latter belief stems from a notion that abortion is the healthcare method par excellence for coping with medically dangerous pregnancies. (Think ectopic pregnancies, pregnancies involving severe preeclampsia, pregnancies during which mothers develop diseases or cancer, etc.)
Here’s the fact: sometimes, ending a pregnancy is the only way to preserve a mother’s health. The problem is that, with their anti-Life blinders on, abortion advocates do not acknowledge that abortion is not the only way to terminate a pregnancy. In actual fact, there are Life-affirming alternatives. The removal of fallopian tubes, for example, in an ectopic pregnancy, may be necessary to save the mother from imminent death. An ectopic pregnancy is in many cases a ticking time bomb until the pregnancy ruptures, killing both mother and child. The removal of a fallopian tube in which the baby is growing will indirectly cause the baby to die, but not by directly killing or intending to kill – the child. And that is a crucial difference between Life-affirming maternal care and abortion.
In other cases, when pregnancy needs to end to preserve maternal well-being, babies can be delivered alive. They may or may not be able to survive long outside the womb, but healthcare providers can undertake every method at their disposal to save the child’s life. The child may die naturally following delivery – or he may not! A live delivery in those circumstances is the only option affirming the dignity of both the mother and child. After all, who can honestly say that killing a mother’s innocent child is a pro-woman act?
In the face of these facts, how can abortion advocates say that lack of access to legal abortion is killing women? In reality, lack of good maternal healthcare, and botched self-induced abortion attempts are what kill women in countries where abortion is illegal. Their solution? Make abortion legal; doing so will allow women to end their pregnancies and prevent some of the deaths suffered by women who try to self-induce abortions.
But abortion is not a magic bullet. Even when committed by a skilled abortionist with high-tech equipment, abortion carries the risk of maternal death. Legalizing abortion in countries that currently prohibit the act will not eradicate the problem of maternal mortality in cases where pregnancy complications call for ending a pregnancy. Doing so will only mitigate efforts to provide mothers in underdeveloped nations with comprehensive and Life-affirming prenatal care, giving international leaders an excuse to shortchange mothers because they see abortion as an acceptable solution to pregnancy complications.
With regard to the notion that maternal deaths due to self-induced abortion attempts will decrease if abortion is legalized, again we see the narrow-minded agenda of the abortion industry at play. What else, we must ask, could reduce the demand for self-induced abortions and the subsequent high mortality rate of mothers who self-abort? Pro-Life advocates see the answer with clarity: creating a pro-woman culture in every country – one that does not penalize, ostracize, or marginalize any woman in any circumstance for being a mother. This is not easy, but justice demands that we try.
So next time you hear that women die without abortion, remember the reality that women live more fully without abortion.