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It's Official: Abortion Is Safer Than Childbirth

By carolyncastiglia |

abortion, safe abortion, legal abortion, roe v. wade, childbirth

A study shows legal abortion is extremely safe.

A bit of news was released this week that is controversial for multiple reasons: “Getting a legal abortion is much safer than giving birth,” Reuters reports. They add, “Researchers found that women were about 14 times more likely to die during or after giving birth to a live baby than to die from complications of an abortion.”

The message, says Dr. Anne Davis of Columbia University Medical Center, is not that giving birth isn’t safe, but that contrary to what anti-choice advocates would have people believe, abortion is also safe.

Davis told Reuters, “We wouldn’t tell people, ‘Don’t have a baby because it’s safer to have an abortion’ — that’s ridiculous. We’re trying to help women who are having all reproductive experiences know what to expect.”

First of all, that Davis would feel like she has to justify the research is ridiculous and tells you a lot about the political climate we live in. Of course no one would ever advocate abortion over pregnancy. (It has been subtly suggested by “pro-life” groups that Planned Parenthood not only advocates abortion over pregnancy but specifically targets African-Americans. Remember this billboard from last winter?)

Secondly, you can’t talk about the safety of childbirth without bringing up the C-section epidemic in this country. It makes perfect sense to me that abortions are safer than giving birth because most abortions are performed surgically, hence the C-section tie-in: surgical births are considered less risky than natural births by many doctors, which is why so many doctors opt for scheduled C’s. Studies show conflicting results regarding maternal mortality rates and the safety of C-sections over vaginal delivery.

Reuters notes that “since the abortion drug mifepristone was approved for use in the United States in 2000, the number of medically-induced abortions has been on the rise.” So we’ll have to wait and see if abortion pill use winds up affecting the data. But for now, the numbers look like this:

Between 1998 and 2005, one woman died during childbirth for every 11,000 or so babies born. That compared to one woman of every 167,000 who died from a legal abortion.

Researchers complained that in various states, “doctors legally must go over the risks of abortion in language that may be misleading … with skewed lists of possible complications. Others require a 24-hour waiting period in between the counseling and the abortion itself.” In Texas, a law was just enacted which says “women must listen to the fetal heartbeat sounds before undergoing an abortion, and requires abortion providers to perform an ultrasound” and show the results to the patient 24 hours before an abortion can take place. Thank you, Rick Perry!

Davis thinks “state-mandated discussions have no place in abortion counseling” and says this study, published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, “helps dispel ‘misinformation’ and ‘lies’ about abortion risks included in some state laws — such as the idea that abortion is linked to cancer.”

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About carolyncastiglia

carolyncastiglia

carolyncastiglia

Carolyn Castiglia is a New York-based comedian/writer wowing audiences with her stand-up and freestyle rap. She’s appeared in TONY, The NY Post, The Idiot’s Guide to Jokes and Life & Style. You can find Carolyn’s writing elsewhere online at MarieClaire.com and The Huffington Post. Read bio and latest posts → Read Carolyn's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “It's Official: Abortion Is Safer Than Childbirth

  1. goddess says:

    Per the good pro-lifers concern: PLEASE educate all pregnant women! Let them know that abortion is safer than childbirth! @@

  2. Agnes says:

    Safer for whom? There is a 100% mortality rate for the baby.

  3. daria says:

    Yes, Agnes, because a woman’s life ranks even lower than an embryo’s.

  4. littlefrogs says:

    Abortion and birth control are not only safer than pregnancy and childbirth, they are cheaper.

    Oh and this study didn’t consider the women who died from pregnancy complications but didn’t give birth.

  5. goddess says:

    Agnes- how do you get that? Abortions Oh=- you must mean the zygotes, embryos and fetuses. Well, unfortunately they don’t get rights that supersede the rights of the woman who owns the body and must assume the risks and consequences involved in either continuing gestation and giving birth or aborting. . Period.

  6. Suzie says:

    Wow, what a twisted way to have to put this! I am all for a woman’s right to choose, but this is why I hate feminists and abortion trumpeters. There are other ways to get your message across. It’s a woman’s right because til that baby leaves her body, it’s IN HER BODY. Her body, her choice. Why there has to be any further debate, comparisons or X is safer than Y, is beyond me.

  7. Suzie says:

    Also, Carolyn, did you read the journal study? I didn’t because I’m not paying for another one to try to prove a point…BUT…did it actually mention C-sections because from the abstract it doesn’t look like they would. The Reuters article does not. So, why would you mention it? Lay writer drawing unscientific connections between things. You write “surgical births have been proven safer than natural births, which is why so many doctors opt for scheduled C’s.” Are you kidding? You are sooo not a scientist or science writer, so please reel yourself in. Don’t you have editors? I like your funnies and your bringing a slice of life to the posts thing, but this is pretty off base and misinformed, and rather off-topic for this particular post, too.

  8. Rosana says:

    That is just a stupid comparison. I thought they were smarter than that!!!!

  9. goddess says:

    Actually:
    Maternal mortality: The maternal mortality rate for a cesarean is greater than with a vaginal birth.
    For more facts: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/labornbirth/cesareanrisks.html
    Where did you get the support for the assertion that c sections were safer for the woman?

  10. victoria says:

    I did read the journal study (I have access through work), and two things to clear up that have come up in the comments:

    1.) Women who did not give birth are not included in the statistic Carolyn mentioned, but the researchers did consider them.

    Their search strategy would have included studies on pregnancy-related mortality, but there are some difficulties, which the researchers acknowledge, in getting accurate statistics on the latter (not all miscarriages are registered in the same way live births are). The researchers note that they actually probably underestimate pregnancy-related mortality (“Stillbirths and ectopic pregnancies are associated with higher risks of death than is live birth. We likely therefore underestimated the mortality associated with opting for pregnancy continuation.”)

    2.) Rising numbers of C-sections are only mentioned in passing, as a factor that has changed since the last time these sorts of statistics were examined.

  11. bunnytwenty says:

    Regardless of whether the pro-lifers and anti-feminists in the audience care to face up to this fact, pro-lifers throw a lot of scare tactics at pregnant women claiming that abortion is dangerous. As such, making sure that people know that abortion is actually safer than carrying to term is not about ideology – it’s about making sure that people know the actual FACTS. Are you folks opposed to people knowing FACTS, instead of ideologically-driven lies? What’s the problem with truth?

  12. carolyncastiglia says:

    There’s conflicting evidence about the safety of C-sections vs. vaginal birth: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/reality-check-with-polly-curtis/2011/nov/23/health

    “The evidence for maternal death is conflicting. One study found no difference; one found that in caesareans there were 1.8 fewer deaths per 10,000 women; and a third recorded nine deaths out of 737 caesareans (cases and controls) and 49 deaths out of 9133 vaginal deliveries (cases and controls), which suggests a slightly higher risk for caesareans.”

    I was referring to a statistic I’d heard at a March of Dimes conference about why doctors prefer C-sections. The claim was that C-sections are less risky, but that’s from the physician’s perspective, so I should have been more clear, and I’ll update the wording. Thanks.

  13. G says:

    A woman’s life should not rank lower than an embryo’s. But it’s not worth anything more, either.

  14. MendyLynn says:

    Just my opinion, if ur woman enough to get urself pregnant than be woman enough to give the child life. ADOPTION!!! People and u rarely hear childbirth ends in death these days. It should be illegal to have an abortion, rather 8 wks. or 8 months the baby is still a being with a soul!

  15. Suzie says:

    Thanks, Carolyn. Sorry to have been so bitchy. I just think it’s misleading to say C-sections are safer than birth the way the body is made to birth, and I think doctors encourage sections because they can control the process more, not because they are “safer.”

  16. goddess says:

    A woman’s life NOT worth more than AN EMBRYO? You have GOT to be kidding me????????

  17. goddess says:

    Mendylynn: Adoption is a parenting choice. Abortion is a pregnancy choice. In other words, Adoption does not address the issue of an unwanted PREGNANCY that the woman does not wish to continue. There is no way in HELL I would accept the risks of gestation and childbirth if I did not want to continue the pregnancy in the first place. I’m also not real fond of adoption. To each their own, but I’d never put a child of mine up for adoption, nor would I ever consider adopting a child that wasn’t mine.
    BTW, concerning the “soul” issue. That is YOU believe. Mine believes ensoulment happens with the first breath taken outside the womb. Neither belief should dictate law or women’s reproductive rights though.

  18. bunnytwenty says:

    “A woman’s life should not rank lower than an embryo’s. But it’s not worth anything more, either.”
    So you’re saying that an adult with thoughts, feelings, experiences, and a family who has known them for years doesn’t have more of a right to live than a being that has neither thoughts nor feelings, nor experiences, nor a personality, nor anything about them to know? What a bizarre, amoral universe you live in.
    In any case, I still want to know why people are so mad at the airing of FACTS. Do you think that the lie that abortion is dangerous should be permitted to stand?

  19. Shandeigh says:

    What a dumb compairson. And I bet my tax dollars paid for this idiotic research. Did they also do a study that show that using birth control properly was even safer? Of course not, because teaching people to be responsible for their own actions is crazy-right-wing-talk.

  20. goddess says:

    Except for right-wingers like Santorum, Perry, et al, who think birth control is evil ;-)

  21. bunnytwenty says:

    Shandeigh: again, what is your problem with people having correct information about their health?

  22. Suzie says:

    I don’t have an issue with facts, and sure they can say whatever they want to say, and yes, the pro-life crew twists their own facts and not-so-factual facts to make their own points. HOWEVER, I think it’s in poor taste and doesn’t do alot to support the power of womens bodies to perform their normal, biological functions to present data in this way. There’s something distasteful about it to me, a woman who celebrates the power of my female nature and everything my body can do. I think the standard feminist/progressive line on abortion needs some serious PR help.

  23. bunnytwenty says:

    Hey, sometimes reality is in “poor taste.” That doesn’t make it any less important for people to be informed about how their bodies work, especially when misinformation on the topic is rife.
    Also, it’s weird that in your mind the “power of women’s bodies” or whatever mumbo jumbo trumps the power of our brains to choose when to use that power. I mean, at the very least, I’m sure that you can agree that if you want an optimal outcome for your kids, it’s best to plan out when (and if) you’re going to have them and how you’re going to support them, no?
    Also, illness is a normal, biological function – should we be celebrating that, too?

  24. Suzie says:

    I personally think having an abortion just because “the time’s not right” is mis-using that power. But, it’s each woman’s decision and not one for the state to take away. It’s OK. I don’t expect you to understand. Most women are completely out of touch with this sort of thing…I mean you call it “mumbo jumbo”…

  25. Linda, T.O.O. says:

    “Just my opinion, if ur woman enough to get urself pregnant than be woman enough to give the child life. ADOPTION!!! People and u rarely hear childbirth ends in death these days. It should be illegal to have an abortion, rather 8 wks. or 8 months the baby is still a being with a soul!” @Mendylyn, what you fail to acknowledge is that when you make that jump from “just my opinion” to “it should be illegal to have any abortion,” you cross the line. You don’t get to make reproductive and medical decisions for anyone other than yourself and you don’t get to dictate other people’s religious beliefs (or lack thereof) by expecting them live their lives according to some magical mumbo jumbo about god and souls. Certainly, please feel free to give your own child up for adoption, if the situation ever arises, but don’t pretend that solution is all rainbows and unicorns. Being a part of the adoption triad is really, really difficult and fraught with issues of all sorts. It’s not a cure all. I’m adopted and, like @Goddess, I can honestly say that I would never place a child up adoption or adopt a child not my own. Also, I can’t take anyone seriously who can’t be bothered to writet out the three letter word “you.” I get the usage in a text, but not where people are attempting to have an intelligent conversation. Just… no.

  26. Jessica says:

    Life is precious no matter what. I find it interesting that everyone posting is, well, born! Its easy to say “do away with “it” when you or your child aren’t the one whose life is at risk. Lets face the truth here people. The pro abort movement is about allowing women to do whatever the hell they want and screw those it may hurt. Kill your baby, leave your spouse for another woman, or some young “stud”..whatever. If its “just a zygote”..why doesnt the dr just give the mom a pill to put the little thing to sleep? No, instead he forces labor, goes into the womb, hacks the baby to pieces so he/she will come out easier. Blood everywhere..a beating heart stopped. You momas who are for abortion are evil and selfish. You dont like what I have to say? Tough sh**!

  27. Jessica says:

    Linda..would you have been better off hacked to pieces in your mom’s womb? Just asking……

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