Chile: New study found that education level is the most important factor in reducing maternal deaths, not legal abortion.
A new Chilean study reaffirms that legal abortion does not reduce maternal deaths, and in fact, Chile has seen a significant decrease in maternal mortality since enacting pro-life laws. The study, conducted on behalf of the Chilean Maternal Mortality Research Initiative (CMMRI), analyzed 50 years of maternal mortality data in Chile and found that education level is the most important factor in reducing maternal deaths. “Educating women enhances women’s ability to access existing health care resources, including skilled attendants for childbirth, and directly leads to a reduction in her risk of dying during pregnancy and childbirth,” said Dr. Elard Koch, epidemiologist and lead author of the study. While Chile has seen a declining rate of maternal mortality since it prohibited abortion in 1989, countries with abortion-on-demand like South Africa, Canada and the United States have seen an increase in the rate of maternal deaths. “Definitively, the legal prohibition of abortion is unrelated to overall maternal mortality rates,” said Koch.
Pro-abortion response to the Koch study was swift with attempts to discredit the findings. However Dr. Koch stands behind his research and responded: “Not surprisingly, we found that the methodology developed by scientists from the Guttmacher Institute appears to grossly overestimate the number of possible induced abortions in developing countries. For instance, induced abortion estimates by Koch et al. in Colombia (21,978) indicate that the Guttmacher Institute likely overestimates figures in this region (400,400) at least by 18-fold. In other words, estimates drawn through the methodology developed by the Guttmacher Institute is beyond what is empirically possible.”
In their full point-by-point rebuttal document to the criticisms by the Guttmacher Institute, Koch and colleagues conclude that “it is imperative to remark that, because abortion restrictive law in Chile is unrelated to maternal mortality and this country reached one of the lowest rates of maternal-related and abortion-related deaths of the world (at the present, 16.9 and 0.39 per 100,000 live births, respectively) without legalizing abortion, the Chilean fifty-year natural experiment provides strong evidence, for the first time, that a liberal law of abortion is unnecessary to improve maternal health: it is a matter of scientific fact in our study.”