September 28 was International Safe Abortion Day. The abortion advocacy group Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network (PINSAN) held an online event called “Decriminalize Abortion Now.” They said abortion must be legalized to “Save People’s Lives.”

That is false. 𝗠𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗵 𝗱𝗲𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗱𝘀 𝗳𝗮𝗿 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗾𝘂𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝗺𝗲𝗱𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗰𝗮𝗿𝗲 (𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗿𝗲𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗳𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗼𝗿𝘀) 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝗻 𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗹 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝘁𝘂𝘀 𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝘃𝗮𝗶𝗹𝗮𝗯𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻. Consider:

  • Maternal mortality declined dramatically in the developed world as a result of advancements in modern medicine that took place before the widespread legalization of abortion.¹
  •  Ireland,² Malta, Poland³, and Chile⁴ significantly restrict or prohibit abortion and yet have very low maternal mortality ratios.
  • •Among the few countries that achieved a 75 percent reduction in their maternal mortality ratios by 2010, Maldives, Bhutan, and the Islamic Republic of Iran did so while generally prohibiting abortion.⁵
  • After Chile banned abortion in 1989, its maternal mortality ratio continued to decline significantly and at about the same rate, dropping 69.2 percent over the next 14 years, according to a 2012 study by Elard Koch, et al.⁶ Even maternal deaths due specifically to abortion declined—from 10.78 abortion deaths per 100,000 live births in 1989 to 0.83 in 2007, a reduction of 92.3 percent after abortion was made illegal.⁷

Legalizing abortion, the Chilean study’s authors conclude, is demonstrably unnecessary for the improvement of maternal health and the saving of women’s lives.⁸

In fact, legalizing or expanding abortion can be detrimental to the health and safety of pregnant women. Abortion poses physical and psychological risks.⁹ These risks include immediate complications such as hemorrhage, infection, and death as well as long-term risks such as breast cancer.¹⁰ A wealth of worldwide research has established that abortion increases the risk of subsequent preterm birth, which can cause death or disability in newborn children.¹¹ Abortion is also associated with a variety of psychological and social problems, including depression, drug abuse, and suicide.¹²

The health risks of abortion are exacerbated in developing countries like ours where basic health care is lacking. Decriminalizing abortion in the Philippines will only increase the incidence of abortion, thus, increasing the number of Filipino women subjected to the risks of abortion.

The evidence shows that better maternal health care, not abortion, is the way to save lives.¹³ Both unborn children and their mothers deserve our care and support. #LoveThemBoth

Isaiah Ceasar B. Bie
ALFI Youth Member


¹ World Health Organization (1991), Maternal Mortality: A Global Factbook. Decline in maternal mortality rates in the developed world coincided “with the development of obstetric techniques and improvement in the general health status of women.” This took place (from 1935 to the 1950s) well before the widespread legalization of abortion.

² Byron Calhoun, John Thorp and Patrick Carroll (2013), “Maternal and Neonatal Health and Abortion: 40-Year Trends in Great Britain and Ireland,” Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 18(2).

³ Margaret Hogan, Kyle Foreman, Mohsen Naghavi, et al. (2010), “Maternal Mortality for 181 Countries, 1980-2008: A Systematic Analysis of Progress Towards Millennium Development Goal 5,” The Lancet 375(9756): 1609-1623.

⁴ Elard Koch, John Thorp, Miguel Bravo, et al. (2012), “Women’s Education Level, Maternal Health Facilities, Abortion Legislation and Maternal Deaths: A Natural Experiment in Chile from 1957 to 2007,” PLoS ONE 7(5).

⁵ World Health Organization (2010), Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2010.

⁶ Koch, Natural Experiment in Chile, 2012.

⁷ Ibid.

⁸ Ibid.

⁹ Elizabeth Ring-Cassidy and Ian Gentles (2003), “Women’s Health After Abortion: The Medical and Psychological Evidence,” The deVeber Institute. See summary here:

¹⁰ Ibid. Alleged refutations of the evidence for the abortion-breast cancer link have been proven flawed. See Joel Brind (2005), “Induced Abortion As An Independent Risk Factor for Breast Cancer: A Critical Review of Recent Studies Based on Prospective Data,” Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 10(4):105-110.
¹¹ Ibid. See also Prakesh Shah and Jamie Zao (2009), “Induced Termination of Pregnancy and Low Birthweight and Preterm Birth: A Systematic Review and Meta-analyses,” BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 116(11):1425-1442.

¹² Ibid. See also Priscilla K. Coleman (2011), “Abortion and Mental Health: Quantitative Synthesis and Analysis of Research Published 1995-2009,” British Journal of Psychiatry 199:180-186; and David M. Fergusson, et al. (2013), “Does Abortion Reduce the Mental Health Risks of Unwanted or Unintended Pregnancy? A Re-appraisal of the Evidence,” Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 47(9):819-827.

¹³ No, abortion is not health care: