A recent ABC segment on The Drum, discussed the issue of abortion. One of Australia's most prominent abortion advocates made some rather exaggerated claims that are of grave concern given the amount of misinformation fed to the general public about abortion in general.
On hearing Leslie Cannold claim that, '.... many, many, many millions of women die every year from highly preventable causes like unsafe abortion, like lack of access to contraception and unsafe motherhood..' I immediately wanted to find out where and why all these women were dying and began my own research, especially given Ms Cannold's oft made claims that greater access to abortion is the primary solution to so many of these tragedies facing women.
I figured the World Health Organisation was a pretty safe bet for some accurate figures, however I couldn't find anything even close to Ms Cannold's many, many, many millions. In fact I couldn't even find anything close to a single million.
In fact, the World Health Organisation's Fact Sheet on Maternal Mortality informs us that around 287,000 women died from pregnancy and childbirth related causes in 2010. More interesting is that the majority of these deaths occur in developing countries and are entirely preventable with WHO stating that:
'Most maternal deaths are avoidable, as the health-care solutions to prevent or manage complications are well known. All women need access to antenatal care in pregnancy, skilled care during childbirth, and care and support in the weeks after childbirth. It is particularly important that all births are attended by skilled health professionals, as timely management and treatment can make the difference between life and death.'
Whilst every one of these deaths is tragic, it would seem that greater access to abortion is NOT the primary solution for the majority of these deaths after all.
I guess this also must bring into question the recent commentary on the USA election debates, with Romney promising jobs for women that Ms Cannold claims women will not be able to fulfil 'without access to abortion'. It seems to me that if someone continues to push this idea that women can participate to their fullest potential educationally, socially and professionally, only if they can first abort their children, that something has gone fundamentally wrong with the upholding of women's rights.
To constantly suggest that the best solution to the social, health and professional challenges facing women is a surgical one that deprives women of their right to both bear children AND participate fully in life ensures that we will never have to address the practical aspects of these challenges.
We can just keep forcing women to 'choose', then denigrating and disparaging them when they don't experience that 'choice' as the positive, uplifting, dance in the streets, or even 'mundane' event that a small and loud minority are currently celebrating.
I wonder if The Drum, or Ms Cannold will offer a correction to her own misleading claim, unless my source at the World Health Organisation is incorrect of course, in which case I will gladly update here..