". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13

Commentary

Killing Unborn Children Will Never Solve Maternal Mortality

December 15, 2022

Since its founding, the abortion industry has always targeted minority and economically disadvantaged women as its prime sources of profit. Today, this anti-life narrative often takes the form of arguing that protecting life in the womb will exacerbate the nation’s maternal mortality crisis — a lie that a bogus new study from Boston University and the Commonwealth Fund attempts to perpetuate.

In the study, titled “The U.S. Maternal Health Divide,” the researchers claim that passing pro-life laws in the states will lead to an increase in maternal mortality and the disintegration of existing maternal health care. The legacy media wasted no time in elevating the report, with outlets like The Hill writing, “The new findings from The Commonwealth Fund confirm what many advocates feared: scrapping Roe v. Wade would have a disproportionate impact on women of color and worsen maternal health overall.”

The pro-abortion narrative is set — the only problem? The study doesn’t actually provide evidence or statistically significant data backing up the claim that protecting life in the womb augments maternal mortality. Rather, the study attempts to correlate the pre-Dobbs maternal and infant mortality rates between 2018 and 2020 with where the state laws now stand on protecting life in the womb in a post-Roe America.

One glaringly obvious issue with the narrative portrayed by this study is that under Roe v. Wade, no state had the ability to enforce a meaningful protection for life in the womb prior to viability. This means that during the period studied, practically speaking, the states now enforcing pro-life protections were indistinguishable from the states that currently allow abortion through 40 weeks of pregnancy.

Furthermore, during the three-year period studied, 20 of the 26 pro-life states reported at least a one-year increase in abortions, with several seeing increases across both years. If abortion were negatively correlated to maternal mortality, then an increase in abortion would cause a decrease in maternal mortality; however, increased rates of abortion in states that are now pro-life did nothing to alleviate the maternal mortality crisis in these states.

The study ignores regions such as our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., where women are almost twice as likely to die from pregnancy complications as mothers in the rest of the nation. The city also maintains one of the most liberal abortion laws in the United States; an abortionist in D.C. can kill a child in the womb at any point in pregnancy, and the abortionist does not need to be a doctor. The D.C. Abortion Fund directly finances abortions for abortion-minded mothers who struggle financially. If abortion were the solution to maternal mortality, why does unlimited abortion fail to remedy the maternal mortality crisis in areas like D.C.?

The answer, of course, is that killing a child in the womb is not a valid solution to any problem — nor is pregnancy itself the problem when addressing maternal mortality. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 63.2% of all pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. Treating abortion as the solution to the maternal mortality crisis is a waste of time, money, and energy that would be far better directed to addressing real disparities in human flourishing.

For example, limited access to convenient and quality health care plays a major role in whether a woman is healthy before, during, and after her pregnancy. The Commonwealth Fund study attempts to characterize abortion as a solution to maternity care deserts. Of the 26 pro-life states analyzed, the majority are predominately rural, making the solution to a maternity care desert much more complex than simply opening a new hospital. Innovative medical resources, like telehealth services and mobile maternity care units, would go a long way in addressing the maternal health care disparities that abortion attempts to camouflage.

Likewise, abortion is not the solution to poverty. Nine of the top 10 states with the highest poverty rate in the country are states with pro-life protections in place. Poverty often predicts a mother’s ability to access quality health insurance, healthy food, and pharmaceutical resources. In these instances, mothers require assistance to access the resources needed to experience a healthy pregnancy and postpartum lifestyle — not abortion.

A quick glance under the hood of the Commonwealth Fund study reveals the major logical leaps that a reader must make in order to accept the claim that pro-life laws increase maternal mortality. Beneath the misleading pro-abortion framing, however, the report holds some truth: our nation really is suffering from a maternal mortality crisis. But one must only look around the abortion propaganda to recognize that telling poor and minority women that their safest pregnancy outcome is to kill their child is not a real solution.

Joy Stockbauer is a policy analyst for the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

Connor Semelsberger is Director of Federal Affairs - Life and Human Dignity at Family Research Council.