NOT SAFE Even If Legal: Doctor’s Study Shows that Legal Abortion is Bad for Women’s Health

Caroline Wharton - 29 Apr 2022

Guest post by Students for Life of America’s Contributing Writer Anna Reynolds

GUEST POST: A recent study published in the Ethiopian Medical Journal shows that legal elective abortion does not decrease maternal morbidity and mortality. Pro-life doctor and ethicist Calum Miller, who lives in the United Kingdom, studied statistics from Ethiopia before and after the legalization of elective abortion in 2005. His work gives an empirical response to the talking points of the abortion lobby, which is pushing to legalize abortion in pro-life countries the world over. 

Miller demonstrated that illegal abortions did not decrease after abortion became legal. Often abortion activists claim that if abortion is legal there will be fewer “dangerous” illegal abortions, which, as Miller shows, is simply not the case. While illegal abortions, in fact, increased, legal abortions skyrocketed and with them the number of complications, many of them severe. For example, Miller notes, “The proportion of women admitted to intensive care tripled. And in the following years, there was a further 50% increase in severe complications, and the proportion of women with organ failure quadrupled.” 

Legal Abortion Bad for Women's Health

The abortion lobby has insisted that abortion has to be legal in order to protect women. Without legal abortion, supposedly bad illegal abortionists would prey on vulnerable women and commit dangerous back-alley abortions. “Safe, legal, and rare” is the lie that sold many people on legal abortion with the false belief that legal abortion is good for women. 

The past decades have demonstrated just how misguided these rosy notions about legal abortion were. Legal abortionists are still responsible for mother’s deaths and abuse. As for the supposed “life-saving” quality of abortion, no amount of cognitive dissonance can erase the fact that in a successful abortion at least one person—the baby—loses her life. 

Legal Abortion Bad for Women's Health

Miller explained the importance of his research in an interview with pro-life advocate Jonathon Van Maren. He notes that pro-lifers recognize that if abortion is illegal, some mothers will still die in abortions. In response to this reality, pro-lifers often respond that protecting the life of the preborn child is important enough to still outlaw abortion.

 Miller continued, “I began to notice that we were conceding the empirical claims too easily – and in fact, as I began to read more, I found that they were almost always false. But very few academics had looked into this in detail. So I wanted to look at a modern-day example in detail and see whether legal abortion had delivered on its promises – unfortunately all it achieved was more lives ended and more women hospitalized.” 

Legal Abortion Bad for Women's Health

As Miller’s research shows, when elective abortion is legal, many more women will end a baby’s life in abortion exposing them to the risk of severe complications and death. These are not only statistics backed up by empirical evidence but they also represent real people whose lives matter. Miller told Van Maren, “Within months of Argentina legalising abortion, a leading abortion advocate died from an abortion. Her life mattered infinitely, and it was a tragedy that she was misled by other abortion advocates propagating these myths.” 

Miller’s research on Ethiopia is important because it is not an outlier but a representation of the experience of many pro-life countries succumbing to intense international pressure to legalize the killing of the preborn. He said, “What I found in the Ethiopia study is that – as in many countries – legalizing abortion doesn’t reduce illegal abortions; it only increases legal ones in addition, putting more women at risk.” Miller’s research is not groundbreaking, and his findings were known in the 1960s and ‘70s when many countries began decriminalizing elective abortion. Miller said, “The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in England actually debunked all these myths back in 1966, but sadly they and other organizations have turned to propagating this misinformation.” Thanks to Miller’s work, these statistics showing the ugly reality of abortion are once again becoming accessible to the public. 

Legal Abortion Bad for Women's Health

medical doctor and researcher at the University of Oxford, Miller gained international attention with his calm and well-reasoned defense of Texas’s life-saving Heartbeat Act. In an appearance on the BBC, Miller gave a well-articulated expression of the pro-life position and had statistics to support his claims. Miller’s work confirms what pro-lifers already know: scientific advancements have convinced more people of the reality of preborn life and abortion hurts women and babies.  

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