Abortion Safer than Childbirth?

Posted on | February 22, 2012 by Lucia Muchova |

A widely cited study by Elizabeth Raymond and David Grimes published in the leading journal Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women were 14 times more likely to die during or after childbirth than from complications of an abortion.

That abortion is supposedly safer than childbirth is not a new argument. It played an important role in the Roe v Wade decision where the Court took as “established medical fact” that in the first 3 months of pregnancy “mortality in abortion is less than mortality in normal childbirth.”

Now, this argument is being rehashed to criticize state legislation that identifies abortions as high-risk procedures and to “dispel misinformation and lies” about abortion- related risks.

Independent researchers, however, find that the Raymond and Grimes study is the very source of such misinformation. It relies on “seriously incomplete data” and leads to faulty conclusions.

Priscilla K. Coleman, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, Bowling Green State University writes in her critical analysis:

In arriving at their conclusion that abortion is many times safer than childbirth, Raymond and Grimes relied only on data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to secure numbers of deaths related to childbirth and induced abortion. However, the data reported by abortion clinics to state health departments and ultimately to the CDC significantly underrepresents abortion morbidity.

The authors acknowledge underreporting, but they make no attempt to address the factors associated with this shortcoming, nor do they discuss the magnitude of the problem.

Raymond and Grimes also fail to address abortion-related deaths beyond the first trimester.

Further, the authors never mention the wealth of data showing childbirth is protective in the immediate and long-term against death from non-obstetrical causes, both from natural causes such as breast cancer and unnatural causes including suicide.

Pregnant women are 1/20th as likely to commit suicide when compared to non-pregnant women of childbearing age.


Raymond and Grimes aim to provide “pregnant women considering their options with accurate information about comparative risks.” The critique coming from independent researchers shows they are doing exactly the opposite.

For full critical analysis of the Raymond and Grimes study see:

Priscilla K. Coleman, “A Serious Misrepresentation of the Relative Safety of Induced Abortion Compared to Childbirth Published in a Leading Medical Journal”

and Physicians for Life, “Fact or Fraud: Is Abortion safer than Childbirth?” 




Turtle Bay and Beyond is a blog covering international law, policy and institutions. Our experts - at the UN, European Institutions, and elsewhere - explore an authentic understanding of international law, sovereignty, and the dignity of the human person. We expose those who would seek to impose a radical social vision that is contrary to these principles.


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