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Monday, July 02, 2012

Killing Them Softly

I've written here, here and here on the connection between infant mortality, abortion and economics.
Today, I'm going to take a slightly different emphasis by adding in the problem of maternal mortality.

By clicking on this link to the UN Chart, and this one to the CIA chart, you can follow along with how maternal mortality fits into this discussion and verify what I'm saying. The headers on each table are sortable - just click on the header and it will sort by that column.

Before I begin the discussion, a few things should be mentioned.

1) Infant mortality
Infant mortality is usually defined as the number of children who die in their first year per 1000 live births. Numbers on infant mortality are not apples-to-apples - the United States counts any child born breathing as a living child, but most countries don't. If the child is below a certain weight, below a certain gestational age or dies within the first day or week of life, it is often not counted in infant mortality statistics. In Russia, if it dies in the twelfth month, the death is often transferred into child mortality statistics.

Many countries do not keep hard statistics - the numbers we have for them are guesswork based on various known models and factors, like the number of hospitals, midwives, doctors, obstetrics wards, general level of medical care, etc.

2) Maternal mortality and abortion
Maternal mortality is the number of women who die per 100,000 childbirths. Notice the difference. Infant mortality uses a scale 100 times smaller than maternal mortality uses.

But, like infant mortality, maternal mortality numbers are also not apples-to-apples, and for many of the same reasons. For instance, in the United States, women who die of a botched abortion are often classified as being a maternal death instead of an abortion death. We can assume maternal deaths in other countries are often wrongly classified or not kept up-to-date. For instance, abortion is a killer of both women and children, but the only numbers we have for Venezuala's "abortion rate as a percentage of pregnancy" date from 1968.

In short, countries often have a difficult time tracking this kind of information or don't track it at all. Again, maternal mortality is often generated by modeling, because it is simply not possible to accurately count maternal deaths in most circumstances.

3) Different countries are tracked differently
Finally, the UN and the CIA track different countries - the CIA tracks any self-governing body, but the UN only tracks member nations. So, for instance, Monaco shows up in the CIA list, but not in the UN list.

And different models give different results for the same country: Finland is ranked fifth in infant mortality on the UN list, but twelfth on the CIA Factbook list. Luxembourg is seventh on the UN list, but 32nd on the CIA list. And these disagreements are just in the top 30, where statistics are pretty solid. You can imagine how uncertain the rank is for countries farther down on the list.

In short, don't treat the decimal points and the rankings as hard and fast. Assume a general grouping is roughly accurate and that's the best anyone can do. Now, on to the discussion.

The Discussion
Scan through either table when it is sorted by infant mortality, and you instantly see what abortion supporters have all along claimed: generally speaking, countries with no restrictions on abortion have the lowest infant mortality.

Now, there are exceptions. On the CIA table, for instance, in the top 50 countries, six absolutely prohibit abortion. Likewise, on the same table, in the bottom 50 countries, seven have either no restrictions, or have relatively loose restrictions like "mental health" and "socio-economic" reasons. Still, the top 50 countries list 44 whose who have no restrictions on abortion, but who have low infant mortality rates.

How do they do it?
They cheat.

Consider: prior to the advent of modern medicine, children with serious abnormalities or born into seriously dysfunctional families would die in their first year. Indeed, this is the rationale for legal abortion in many countries, including our own: we euthanize the child in the womb because the physical problems would kill the child soon after birth anyway, or the parents would be so disgusted with the child that neglect or active abuse would soon result in the child's death.

Let us accept such arguments on their face. If this is true, then when we take abortion out of the infant mortality calculation, we artificially lower the infant mortality rates. We actively kill children BEFORE birth who would not long have survived AFTER birth. Properly speaking, if we take abortion proponents at their word, abortion should be counted as part of infant mortality statistics.

Now, in order to do this, we have to know what percentage of pregnancies are being aborted. Not all countries track this number, but many attempt to. If you click on the "% of Pregnancies that end in abortion" column header twice,  you'll see them all there, listed in descending order.

Now, "percent" means "per one hundred". So, since infant mortality is counted in deaths per 1000, and number of aborted pregnancies is per 100, we would have to take the "% of Pregnancies that end in abortion" and multiply it by ten to get the number of abortions per thousand pregnancies.

I did that and added it to the infant mortality rate to get "Total Infant Death Rate per thousand".

Click on "Total Infant Death Rate per thousand" to see what happens.
Notice that infant mortality for all countries now sends the countries with no restrictions to the bottom of the heap. For instance, the United States moves from about 49 to around 199 out of 222 countries.

The Effect of Maternal Mortality

But this is unfair. Pro-lifers are always accused of ignoring the women who die due to pregnancy and childbirth, so we need to factor that in. We will. Keep in mind that any death due to a botched abortion is going to get counted as "maternal mortality", so we aren't missing any deaths when we do this calculation. 

Now, the maternal mortality rate (MMR) is figured in deaths per 100,000 births. We need to get the number of maternal deaths per 1000 births. That is, we need to use the same scale we use for infant mortality. So, we have to divide the maternal mortality figure for each country by 100, then add the result to the number of infant deaths to get the true body bag count for both mother and child from pregnancy and birth.

That's what I did. I added the new "MMR per 1000" figure to the "Total Infant Death Rate per thousand" and generated the "Mother and infant deaths: Total per 1000 births" column.

So, sort the tables by the last column "Mother and infant deaths: Total per 1000 births" and you'll see the result. Notice it has changed virtually nothing.

Even though countries like Afghanistan and the Central African Republic see tremendous mortality - over 1500 women die per 100,000 births - the number of mothers who die per 1000 births is a drop in the bucket compared to the number of babies being aborted.  

According to the Lancet, a woman in the hell-hole of Afghanistan has about 1.5% chance of dying as a result of becoming pregnant or giving birth (15 per 1000). There are only five countries in the world where that chance is above one percent. 


So, once everything is added in, a remarkable view emerges. Afghanistan is about as sophisticated as Germany, Finland and Iceland when it comes to preventing pregnancy-related deaths. The Central African Republic is actually doing quite a bit better than any of the European luminaries that they are told to imitate. Indeed, there's only one significant difference between the Afghanis and Africans versus the Europeans: the Afghanis and Africans have a high death rate, but don't intend it. The Europeans? Well...

Two centuries ago, infant mortality ranged from 100 to 250 per 1000 live births. Today, nearly every "advanced" country with unrestricted abortion has an infant death rate above that level. Maternal death rates are high in countries which prohibit or severely restrict access to abortion. However, if we don't cheat on the infant mortality equations, the total pregnancy-related death rate is typically higher in "legal abortion" first world countries than it is in "abortion prohibited" third world countries.

The "civilized" world is actively killing it's own at a rate greater than or equal to the worst hell-hole on this planet. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes us civilized.

1 comment:

serket said...

I found you through Instapundit. There is an error in your book description on Amazon:

"remained" should be "remainder"