Autor: Austin Ruse Fuente: C-FAM (Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute)

At an international conference on population held in Washington,
DC last week, an official from the World Health Organization (WHO) made an
admission that undermines one of the most common arguments for the
worldwide legalization of abortion on demand. Dr. Gunta Lazdane, European
Regional Advisor to WHO on Reproductive Health and Research, said that,
"up to 20% of maternal deaths are due to abortion, even in those
situations were abortion is legal.there is a question whether 'safe'
abortion is safe."

However, international pro-abortion advocates often claim that
only illegal abortions are unsafe. Thus, to address maternal deaths due to
unsafe abortions, they argue that nations should recognize a broad right
to abortion.

This reasoning is even found in WHO's own reports on reproductive
health. In a 1997 document entitled "Unsafe Abortion: Global and Regional
Estimates of Incidence of Mortality Due to Unsafe Abortion," WHO states
that, "Estimates for 1990 indicate that almost 30 million legal
terminations of pregnancy were performed. Millions of abortions, however,
were performed outside the legal system, often by unskilled providers, and
these abortions are unsafe."

The document then goes on to assert that laws against abortion
result in a massive increase in maternal deaths. According to WHO,
"Restrictive legislation is associated with high rates of unsafe
abortion.In the case of Romania, for example, the number of
abortion-related deaths increased sharply after November 1966 when the
government tightened a previously liberal abortion law.Abortions were
legalized again in December 1989 and, by the end of 1990, maternal deaths
caused by abortions dropped to around 60 per 100 000 live births." WHO
does not explain why Romania, with its extremely tumultuous social and
political history, holds lessons for international policymakers.

However, based upon this information, WHO seems to call for the
worldwide legalization of abortion, stating that nations should "frame
abortion laws and policies on the basis of a commitment to women's health
and well-being rather than on criminal codes and punitive measures." If
Lazdane is correct, however, and legal abortions are also unsafe for
women, then these arguments would appear to lose much of their weight.

Lazdane was speaking at the Global Population Forum 2004, which
was organized by the Population Institute and Population 2005, an alliance
of reproductive rights groups. The Board of Directors of Population 2005
includes former high-ranking officials of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA),
and UN Under Secretary General H.E. Anwarul Chowdhury.

Other speakers at the conference were more typical. Alfonso Lopez
Juarez, former head of the Mexican Family Planning Association, called the
Catholic Church and the "religious right" "fanatics." He also said that,
"Nothing is sinful about sexuality if you avoid pregnancy and STD's
[sexually transmitted diseases]."

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