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Susan Roylance: Susan Roylance: Stats not an excuse for abortion

Published: Friday, April 23 2010 11:46 a.m. MDT

A surprising drop in maternal deaths related to pregnancy was reported this week in a British medical journal, The Lancet.

The 324,900 deaths is a significant drop from the 535,900 deaths

previously reported by the UN World Health Organization — and reported

in my blog "Giving Birth or Not" The new data assessed levels and trends in maternal mortality for 181 countries.

This new data represent a drop in the "Maternal Mortality Rate" from 422 to 251 MMR — which represents significant progress.

International advocacy groups and several UN agencies have used the

previously assumed "lack of progress" toward reducing maternal

mortality to promote "safe" abortions — claiming that fewer women die

from abortion than from childbirth. The U.S. government sponsored a

resolution at the recent Commission on the Status of Women that

asserted that "complications due to unsafe abortions" are a major cause

of maternal mortality — promoting legal abortions in all countries.

This is strongly opposed by Catholic and Muslim countries.

According to an April 13 New York Times article,

pro-choice advocacy groups pressured Lancet's editor, Dr. Richard

Horton, to delay publication of the report until later this year —

"after the current UN Commission on Population and Development (CPD),

the Women Deliver Conference scheduled for this June in Washington D.C.,

and the next UN General Assembly, which is also scheduled to address

maternal mortality." The delay would allow advocacy groups to continue

to use the higher (and deceptive) numbers to push for legalizing

elective abortions at these international policy conferences.

Maternal mortality has become a major focus for achieving one of the

UN's Millennium Development Goals; goal No. 5 focuses specifically on

maternal health. A recent UN Secretary General Report says "there has

been little progress in reducing maternal mortality" in the last 10

years.

Some of you may remember my reports from the Berlin Conference

last year — a 15-year review of the International Conference on

Population and Development. Both UNFPA and International Planned

Parenthood bemoaned the lack of funding for their programs and promoted

a "Call to Action" to be used for increased funding for "reproductive

health services" — including abortion.

However, "This new evidence suggests there is a much greater reason

for optimism than has been generally perceived, and that substantial

decreases (in maternal mortality) are possible over a fairly short

time," according to the Lancet report.

The World Health Organization reports that "History and research

have shown that, although all women and babies need pregnancy care,

care in childbirth is most important for the survival of pregnant

women." Maybe now we can turn our focus toward increasing trained

medical attendants at a live birth, rather than promoting "safe"

elective abortions.

Interestingly, "death among men before age 60 is far more common than among females," according to data released this month by the UN Population Division. Obviously, pregnancy is not the only, or most serious, cause of death — since men cannot get pregnant.

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