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Maternal Health II: The abortion lobby’s Trojan Horse

Posted by Fiorella Nash on 13 January 2016

Maternal mortality has been rightly described as 'an international disgrace' but almost as grave a disgrace is the determination by pro-abortion groups to hijack the issue in order to promote abortion around the world.

The abortion lobby has a long history of exploiting the suffering of women whilst claiming to act in their best interests. We are all familiar with this phenomenon as pro-life campaigners when it comes to subjects such as abortion and rape, for example. Abortion is touted as the compassionate response to rape, as though being physically invaded by a masked, anonymous male (in most cases) or given pills that cause bleeding and severe pain are cures for a brutal and traumatic act that will haunt a woman all her life.

Every abortion practitioner knows that the overwhelming majority of abortions are carried out on social grounds and the abortion lobby is unapologetic about its belief that abortion should be available 'on demand and without apology', but it uses rape survivors as an emotive smokescreen to cover its unsavoury agenda and exploits their suffering for political and ideological gain.

Abortion has nothing to do with saving women's lives

The same is increasingly true of maternal mortality. Abortion continues to be touted as a women's health issue, from pro-abortion marches entitled “March for Women's Lives” to the emotive slogan shouted at many a pro-life demonstration: “Right to life, that's a lie! You don't care if women die! Marie Stopes International's latest propaganda effort in the field of abortion and contraception promotion comes under the seemingly compassionate label of “Make Women Matter”.

But abortion has nothing to do with saving women's lives. As far back as 1992, a group of Ireland's top obstetricians and gynaecologists signed a letter in which they wrote:

"We affirm that there are no medical circumstances justifying direct abortion, that is, no circumstances in which the life of a mother may only be saved by directly terminating the life of her unborn child."

Tellingly, as I have already pointed out and can‘t resist mentioning again, countries such as Ireland and Malta where abortion is banned have some of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world.

Talk of 'unsafe abortion' is misleading

It is becoming harder and harder to justify abortion in terms of saving a mother‘s life, but abortion does sometimes kill women and it is the “unsafe abortion” argument that is being used most aggressively to promote abortion around the world. Our own Department for International Development (DFID) uses unsafe abortion as its major line of defence in promoting and funding abortion, claiming that unsafe abortion is a significant cause of maternal death.

International organisations including the World Health Organisation list 'unsafe abortion' as one of the major causes of maternal death after haemorrhage and sepsis, but the category is misleading for a number of reasons.

Firstly, this category may include deaths as a result of spontaneous abortion, otherwise known as miscarriage, giving a distorted picture of the number of women who are dying as a result of induced abortion.

All abortions are unsafe

Secondly, it should be noted that it can be extremely difficult even for a trained doctor to determine whether a woman in the first trimester of pregnancy is experiencing life-threatening complications as a result of miscarriage or abortion. The symptoms are so similar that an online abortion group which sell pills to women in pro-life countries, tells women who suffer complications:

"If you live in a place where abortion is a crime and you don‘t have a doctor you trust, you can still access medical care. You do not have to tell the medical staff that you tried to induce an abortion; you can tell them that you had a spontaneous miscarriage…The symptoms are exactly the same and the doctor will not be able to see or test for any evidence of an abortion."

Thirdly, we should note the loaded use of “unsafe” here. Any medical procedure which involves the ending of one or both human lives involved is by definition unsafe and it is unsafe whether it occurs in Nairobi or New York. The abortion lobby has been very successful in creating a false association between ‘safe’ and ‘legal’ abortion (a favourite line of pro-abortion politicians is that abortion should be 'safe, legal and rare') with the implication being that if abortion were only decriminalised in every country of the world, maternal deaths as a result of abortion would be virtually eliminated.

'Farcical to talk about safe abortions' 

However, any medical procedure involves a level of risk, and abortion, legal or otherwise, is no different. 8.2% of maternal deaths in developed countries (where abortion is most likely to be legal) are the result of abortion complications; in India where abortion is legal, the mortality rate from abortion counts for around 16% of all maternal deaths.

South Africa, which has had abortion on demand for years, has witnessed a fourfold increase in maternal mortality since a UK-funded abortion organisation set up clinics around that country. As SPUC‘s Peter Smith commented:

"It is farcical for the government to talk about safe abortions in situations without sterile surgical facilities, safe blood transfusion or emergency back-up. Running abortion clinics in slums, shanty towns and the bush will harm or kill women as well as killing babies."

Promotion of abortion can be a killer of women

Women in Britain and women in South Africa have access to legal abortion, but in the end, a woman experiencing abortion complications in Britain can get emergency help within minutes, while a woman living in an isolated settlement in South Africa can't.

If the abortion lobby is going to highlight the risks to women of unsafe abortion, the logical response would surely be to campaign against a medically unnecessary procedure and to work instead to offer women the assistance they need when facing a difficult pregnancy.

But the promotion of abortion can be a killer of women in a much more subtle and indirect way. Donna Harrison, president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has written:

"In addition to the direct effects of induced abortion on women, there is the dangerous diversion of financial resources from interventions known to reduce maternal mortality: skilled birth attendants, antibiotics, blood banking, and uterotonics. Abortion, spontaneous and induced, accounts for less than 5 percent of maternal mortality.

"It is scientifically, medically, and morally unacceptable to divert resources from interventions proven to reduce maternal mortality to the provision of abortion, under the guise of "decreasing unsafe abortion." The better way to reduce the human rights dimension of maternal mortality is to provide resources targeting the causes of 90 percent of maternal mortality."

Hypocrisy of the abortion lobby

I have always found it rather illogical when certain secularists accuse religious people of being fundamentalists blinded by doctrine or dogma – whatever word they think sounds more sinister – when it is perfectly possible to be blinded by a secular ideology. There can surely be no greater political fundamentalism than that which puts an ideology before the safety of the very women it claims to want to protect.

In their paper Safe Passages: Pro-Life Response to the Tragedy of Maternal Deaths, George Mulcaire-Jones, M.D., and Robert Scanlon, M.D. expose the hypocrisy of the abortion lobby with devastating eloquence:

"There remains a chasm between the villages of Africa and the cities of Geneva, Stockholm, London, and Washington, D.C. It is the chasm representing the distance between a woman dying in a birthing hut without sanitation, running water, or hope, and the carpeted board rooms where strategies are developed and priorities assigned. Vast resources, which should have been directed to funding improvements in essential obstetrical care, have gone to a different agenda – so called "reproductive health."

"Rather than focus on the real causes and solutions to maternal mortality, Safe Motherhood has become entangled within a "reproductive rights" agenda, which emphasizes access to contraception and promotes abortion.

"In the middle of the night, a woman bleeding to death from a postpartum haemorrhage cannot be saved by a contraceptive device or a reproductive health mandate. An asphyxiated newborn cannot be resuscitated by the failed intent to prevent his or her conception."

"They will do it anyway"? 

The western obsession with promoting its own vision of sexuality onto the rest of the world is not only costing the lives of the unborn; it is costing the lives of women through neglect.

The most desperate pro-abortion argument – 'they will do it anyway' - is illogical and insulting to women, but again, a very common argument in any debate on sexuality. But if it did not involve a western ideology about human sexuality, would we really be so defeatist? So cowardly?

Some 10% of 15- and 16-year-olds in this country self-harm, but it would be the height of heartless irresponsibility to respond by teaching them how to cut themselves as safely as possible. You don't hear the Government say: "Oh well, it's a pity depressed teenagers self-harm but we don't want to interfere with their choices and it's a losing battle. They'll find a way." The answer is prevention.

Ethical solutions to make childbirth safe

The difference here is that abortion is not regarded as a problem; it is regarded as an opportunity.

Childbirth is rendered safe by a range of entirely ethical solutions. No one has a problem with making available to women such lifesaving interventions as: antenatal monitoring, trained midwives, caesarean section, blood transfusion (and with it the ability to store blood safely), good sanitation and antibiotics.

There is no reason why there should be this massive ideological battle going on over the bodies of dead women and babies.

This is the second post in a 4-part series Fiorella is writing on maternal health - catch up on Part 1 or read ahead to Part 3.

Add your comment
  • Dominic said:

    19/01/2016 17:39

    Great post. Thanks.

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