Monday, June 20, 2011

How safe is abortion?

While abortion advocates frequently claim abortion is one of the safest surgical procedures, the lack of accurate complication reporting makes it difficult to know how safe abortion really is. Donna Harrison (a doctor from Michigan and a former president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists) and Clarke Forsythe (senior counsel for Americans United for Life) explain:
Abortion advocates commonly claim that "abortion is safer than childbirth." But is that true? Little published information exists in the United States on deaths and complications resulting from abortion.

In the U.S., there are two sources of data on abortion deaths and complications, both equally unreliable: the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Alan Guttmacher Institute. Both rely on voluntary (not mandatory) reporting. Neither has any reliable mechanism for double-checking the accuracy of the submitted information.

The CDC gets its data on the number of abortions from state public-health departments; the reporting is completely voluntary. In contrast to most important health indicators - births, deaths, cancer, HIV, STDs, etc. - there is no national reporting law requiring that abortions or their complications be reported to national health officials or agencies.

Most state abortion-data collection is haphazard and relies on the willingness of abortion providers to share their records voluntarily. Some states, like California - which has a quarter of all abortions annually (300,000) - don't report at all. California, New Hampshire, and Alaska haven't reported their abortion data to the CDC since 1998. So the CDC data is not much better than "garbage in, garbage out."

This nonchalance about deaths and complications from a procedure performed on one out of every three pregnant women in the United States is unconscionable, especially in light of a study in the April 2010 Lancet showing that maternal mortality in the United States has increased.