John-Henry Westen
Special to The Interim

The population control arm of the United Nations, UNFPA, and its abortion-pushing allies, most notably International Planned Parenthood, relentlessly press for legalizing abortion with the claim that it is needed to reduce maternal mortality by reducing “unsafe” abortions, particularly in the Developing World. However, Jeanne Head, R.N., the chief pro-life lobbyist at the United Nations, and herself a former labor and delivery nurse says the reality is quite different from the UNFPA claims. She told that statistics from the United Nations World Health Organization itself demonstrate that maternal mortality decreases with the overall improvement of national health care and the general health status of women rather than with legalization of abortion. Moreover, UN figures demonstrate that the legalization of abortion can lead to an increase in maternal mortality.

“The legalization of abortion does nothing to solve the underlying problem of poor health care in the developing world.” Head added: “Women generally at risk because they lack access to a doctor, hospital, or antibiotics before legalization will face those same circumstances after legalization. And if legalization triggers a higher demand for abortion as it has in most countries (as Stanley Henshaw of Planned Parenthood’s research arm, the Guttamacher Institute, admits it does), more injured women will compete for those scarce resources.”

She explained that even in the United States, with some of the best medical care in the world, official figures indicate that over 300 women have died from legal abortions since the procedure was legalized nationwide in 1973.

Head, the UN representative for the National Right to Life Committee and the International Right To Life Federation, points out that the combination of poor medical conditions in the developing world and the increase in abortions which inevitably result from the legalization of abortion, are a deadly combination for mothers. The UN Population Division publication, World Population Monitoring 2002, notes several countries in which abortions rose rapidly after the law’s liberalization.

In a research paper published in the magazine “The World and I”‘ in June, Head compared UN statistics on Britain, where abortion has been broadly legal for decades, and the nearby Republic of Ireland, which has long banned the practice. “According to the 1990 UN Demographic Handbook, Ireland’s maternal morality rate for 1988 was some three and a half times lower than Britain’s,” wrote Head.

In her paper, Head also points out that the UN Population Division report Abortion Policies: A Global Review reports that in India, where abortion is broadly allowed, the procedure is still practiced under dangerous conditions and the maternal mortality rate remains high. However, the same report notes that in Paraguay maternal mortality rates have been declining, even though abortion is generally prohibited and “clandestine abortion is common.”

Head, who co-authored the paper with PhD student Laura Hussey, concludes, “Despite these facts, arguments about high levels of ‘unsafe’ abortions and the need to legalize abortion to decrease maternal mortality still dominate the international abortion debate. Yet the facts suggest that maternal morality can be reduced in the developing world the same way it has been done in the developed world since 1935 (long before any legalization of abortion) – by improving basic and maternal health care and the general health status of women, not by legalizing abortion.”