National Right to Life Committee/April 16, 2014/New York --
The 47th Session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development (CPD) closed this past weekend in a stalemate after several closed-door, late-night sessions, and a final all-night session on Friday. Pro-abortion forces had apparently hoped to use this CPD session, observing the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Cairo Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), to once again promote what they were unable to achieve in Cairo or since--an international right to abortion. In spite of the fact that there had been an agreement not to do so, they continued to push to enshrine abortion as a "right" worldwide under the guise of preventing maternal death.
In a statement submitted to this delegates, Jeanne E. Head, R.N., National Right to Life vice president of international affairs stated "Most maternal deaths can be prevented with adequate nutrition, basic healthcare, and good obstetric care throughout pregnancy, at delivery, and postpartum. Legal abortion does not mean safe abortion and the evidence shows that lack of modern medicine and quality healthcare, not the prohibition of abortion, results in higher maternal mortality. Women of the developing world need healthcare, not abortion."
Complications from abortion are not a function of the legality of the procedure, but of the overall medical circumstances in which abortion is performed. Indeed, no direct relationship exists between the legal status of abortion and maternal mortality, or even between the legal status of abortion and maternal death caused specifically by abortion. For example, a 2012 study of maternal mortality in Chile indicates that maternal mortality is simply not related to the legality of abortion. The maternal mortality ratio in Chile declined 93.8 percent from 1961 to 2007. Abortion was prohibited in 1989, and the mortality ratio continued to decline, falling 69.2 percent over the next 14 years. Maternal deaths caused by abortion also declined.
The ICPD Programme of Action (IPOA) urges governments to help women avoid abortion and firmly rejects abortion on demand. The facts of science demonstrate that the unborn child (i.e., the human embryo or fetus) is a distinct, living, and whole human being at a very early stage in his or her development. Further, it is a basic moral principle--affirmed in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments--that all human beings are equal in fundamental dignity and ought to be respected and protected. This is also stated in the ICPD POA. Justice requires that governments protect the basic rights of every member of the human family.
"Because of the pre-occupation of a few to push for abortion-on-demand worldwide, the world has failed to properly direct resources to save women's lives," Head added. "Legalizing abortion does nothing to fix the underlying problem of poor medical care in the developing world. We must strive to give women in the developing world access to the same standard of care that has been available to women in the developed world for decades--care that results in a healthy outcome for mother and child."
For more information on National Right to Life's international efforts, see: www.nrlc.org/international.
A brochure detailing why abortion is not the answer to solving maternal mortality in the developing world is available here (also available in French, Spanish and Swahili)
See also this brochure on how abortion hurts women.