Abortion Is 14 Times Safer Than Childbirth (No Surprise)


Written by Carol King

Last week the world was stunned by the announcement that the much-lauded, seemingly apolitical and altruistic Susan G. Komen for the Cure cut off funding for breast cancer screenings for poor women at Planned Parenthood health centers. Even though Komen is now backing off the decision, the curtain has been pulled back to reveal the far reach of the anti-choice far right into every corner of American society.

Komen’s story that the decision wasn’t a political one was a hard sell, especially after it was reported that Karen Handel, the senior vice president of public policy, retweeted (and later deleted), “Just like pro-abortion group to turn a cancer orgs decision into a political bomb to throw. Cry me a freaking river.” Sure, it’s not political.

Anti-choice zealots have been gunning for Planned Parenthood and reproductive health care providers for years now. They’ve created obstacles to women’s reproductive health care by misconstruing, misinterpreting, misrepresenting and misusing facts to try to convince women that they don’t know what’s good for them.

Some of their favorite “facts” are that abortions threaten women’s physical and mental health–despite years of peer-reviewed studies overwhelmingly showing abortions to be safe.

Now, an unbiased scientific study once again shows definitively that abortion is much safer than childbirth. It is 14 times less likely to lead to death.

I don’t expect anti-choice zealots to suddenly change their tune about the supposed dangers of abortion. I’ve been reading studies demonstrating that legal abortion is safer than childbirth since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. Over that time, legal abortion has only become safer. The authors of this study, Dr. Elizabeth G. Raymond and Dr. David A. Grimes, found that:

The relative safety of abortion has increased substantially since the first decade after nationwide legalization, when child birth-related mortality was approximately seven times the mortality related to abortion.

These statistics and scientific facts don’t jibe with what the anti-choice forces want to believe. So they manufactured some “facts” of their own and proceeded to get legislators and policymakers to believe them–or at least pretend to believe them–and enact laws to protect women from themselves.

Anti-choicers have succeeded in getting laws passed in 22 states that require women seeking abortions to receive information about the procedure’s “risks.” Such information is often misleading, inaccurate and designed to frighten women away from terminating their pregnancies. A pamphlet mandated in Texas, “A Woman’s Right to Know,”  lists over 30 potential complications of medical abortion–but only six potential complications of vaginal delivery and eight of cesarean delivery.

The pamphlet also raises the specter of breast cancer. The anti-choice crowd has been trying to sell the idea that abortions raises breast-cancer risk for a long time, although any link between the two has been refuted in study after study. The American Cancer Society states that, “At this time, the scientific evidence does not support the notion that abortion of any kind raises the risk of breast cancer or any other type of cancer.” (Perhaps the Komen organization could focus its efforts on debunking this mythology instead of undermining Planned Parenthood.)

Raymond and Grimes’ report concludes:

Laws that compel exposure of women to such biased material thwart informed choice and contravene the ethical principle of autonomy. Moreover, they put clinicians in the untenable position of having to be complicit in misleading their patients. Since the early 1970s, the public health evidence has been clear and incontrovertible: induced abortion is safer than childbirth.

It is unconscionable that our health care providers should have to misrepresent medical facts to women seeking abortions because of a vocal anti-choice minority. When will Americans acknowledge that, in the words of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts”?

This post was originally published by Ms. Magazine.


Related Stories:

The GOP’s 10 Most Extreme Attacks On A Woman’s Right to Choose An Abortion

Victory! Komen Reverses Planned Parenthood Decision

Susan G. Komen’s Cozy Relationship With Anti-Choice Groups


Photo from sea turtle via flickr


Ashley D.
Ashley D.5 years ago

Dear Jane B,
as Sousou pointed out being legal does not make abortion moral. What about the physical and psychological results of abortion, not least a third of breast cancers caused by abortion? Have you consulted wit hwomen who have had terminations and lived to regret it afterwards?
FYI I have prayed outside abortion clinics, and will do so again.

Mark S.
Mark S5 years ago

What is WRONG is forcing a woman to carry a potential baby against her will. There are plenty of wanted babies. So why worry about a few?

vicky t.
vicky T5 years ago

Very interesting opinions on both sides, but when I read (rational comments), I tell myself pro-lifers and pro-choicers aren't that different, except for extremists of course.
Pro-lifers do believe it should be the woman's decision after all, and pro-choicers do believe that a fetus is a life, and not some parasite they should hate.

Jane B, you seem to be led by very personal issues which makes your comments very unconvincing. Logic does wonders. Pure hate, on the other hand, isn't impressive at all. Chill!

bob m.
bob m5 years ago

Well I guess were just gonna have to accept that where life is concerned , in just about every situation ; were're going to have to ascribe to the likelyhood that right from the UNLIKELY beginning it's 14 times more likely not to happen....
nope...don't go there...nope....
talk about fear mongering....

Zana Zatanique
Jan Alexanian5 years ago

hmmmmmmmmm...more food for thought. Proponents for both sides are going to argue that their statistics are right.

Sousou C.
Sousou Ch5 years ago

Legal doesn't make it moral! In Saudi Arabia it is legal for a man to rape or beat his wife, does it make it right?

FYI in most cases abortion is more convenient for men than it is for women.

Just to be clear I'm not fighting so that abortion becomes illegal, but so that women be aware of what they are really doing before taking any decision they might regret later.

I'm not taking sides with any religion! I was only arguing using science, logic and morals. You Jane couldn't beat common sense which made all your replies an unexplained channeled hate toward Christians!
Well here's a news flash for you, you wouldn't be free or living in a free country if it wasn't for Christianity. Study your history well and you'll find out that Christianity was first to put "LOVE, FORGIVENESS AND EQUALITY" above everything else. How Christians misused their religion to kill "witches" or declare wars was unethical and if I'm not mistaken there's a papal apology for all this wrong doing.

The point is some Christians misuse their religion when they forget to use "Brain Heart" so don't be like them and misuse science. No matter what your believes are, learn from history, don't repeat the same mistakes and please have some morals, it's as simple as that!

Jane Barton
Jane Barton5 years ago

Abortion is legal. Hateful death obsessed Christians will have to get over it. Don't you people have some praying to do?

Rebekah O'brien
Rebekah Obrien5 years ago

Such a hateful world we live in. Makes me very sad that people act like, or actually worse than animals! @ Jane, I hope you 1 day find peace with whatever issues you have. You are a very angry person who has probably been very hurt in the past. Just something for you to think about: What if your mother had aborted you?

Ainsley Chalmers
Ainsley Chalmers5 years ago

I always laugh at the comment "Unbiased scientific study". scientists will find something which goes along with their world view. for example take climate change and evolution studies. the climate changers will always see evidence for climate change in their data. likewise the evolutionists will always see data to support evolution. I have been in medical research over 50 years and know what i am talking about. One wise Professor in science once said wisely that 80% of the science we teach today will be shown to be in error in the years ahead.

Sousou C.
Sousou Ch5 years ago

PS: For all those who're gonna start bitching my last comment read the previous ones before judging :P