Studies - General Research

Abortion Deadlier For Women Than Childbirth (STAKES,1997)

FINISH STUDY SHOWS ABORTION DEADLIER FOR WOMEN THAN CHILDBIRTH — The study results were released in 1997 by STAKES, the statistical analysis unit of Finland's National Research and Development Center for Welfare and Health, but are only now attracting attention in the USA.

These studies are all based on computerized  medical records, i.e., they depend on written records rather than potentially erroneous patient interview material:
References: Gissler, M, et.al., “Pregnancy associated deaths in Finland 1987-1994, Acta Obsetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica 76:651-657 (1997); Gissler, M., et.al.,,”Suicides after pregnancy in Finland: 1987-1994: register linkage study.  British Medical Journal 313:1431-34, (1996); Summarized in The Post-Abortion Review, Vol 8, No. 2, April-June 2000, from Elliot Institute, PO Box 7348, Springfield, IL 62791: Examines records of all women ages 15 to 49 who died in Finland from 1987 to 1994, includes in the study those who died within 1 year of their last pregnancy event: 281 deaths. Of these 281 women dying within 1 year of  pregnancy event (ie, liveborn delivery, stillborn, miscarriage, or induced abortion), 27% died by suicide, 20 % died due to “accident,” 5% died by homicide,  45% died due to “natural cause,” 3%”violent-unclear cause—either accident, suicide, or homicide..” These are compared to non-pregnant age matched women. For purposes of meaningful comparison, maternal deaths are expressed  as # of deaths/100,000, and are compared to similar age women who are not pregnant.

The study involved maternal post-abortion deaths of 9,192 Finnish women, aged 15-49, during the period of 1987-1994. The researchers pulled death certificates and reproductive health records and then narrowed the study to women who had a pregnancy related event (birth, miscarriage, abortion) in the twelve months prior to their deaths. The deaths included suicide, accidental death, homicide and natural causes.

The results are startling. A woman's risk of dying within a year after an abortion was 3.5 times higher than the risk of dying after childbirth, according to the study.

Finland has socialized medical care, with accurate record-keeping. STAKES researchers identified 281 women who had died within a year of their last pregnancy.

The unadjusted mortality rate per 100,000 cases was 27 for women who had given birth, 48 for women who had miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies, and 101 for women who had abortions.

The researchers then calculated the age-adjusted odds ratio of death, using the death rate of women who had not been pregnant as the standard equal to one. The age-adjusted odds ratio of women dying in the year they give birth was half that of women who were not pregnant; however, women who had abortions were 76 percent more likely to die in the year following abortion compared to non-pregnant women. Compared to women who carry to term, women who aborted were 3.5 times more likely to die within one year.

Using a subset of the same data, STAKES researchers had previously reported that the risk of death from suicide within one year of an abortion was more than seven times higher than the risk of suicide with a year of childbirth.

The same finding was reported in STAKES' more recent study. Among the 281 women who died within a year of their last pregnancy, 77 (27%) had committed suicide. The risk of suicide following a birth was about half that of the general population of women. This finding is consistent with previous studies that have shown that an undisturbed pregnancy actually reduces the risk of suicide.

The original publication of the STAKES suicide data prompted researchers at the South Glamorgan Health Authority in Great Britain to examine their own data on admissions for suicide attempts before and after pregnancy events. After their pregnancies, there were 8.1 suicide attempts per thousand women among those who had abortions, compared to 1.9 suicide attempts among those who gave birth.

In the most recent study from Finland, the STAKES researchers also reported that the risk of death from accidents was over four times higher for women who had aborted in the year prior to their deaths than for women who had carried to term.

Of the 281 women who died within a year of their last pregnancy, 57 (20%) died from injuries attributed to accidents. Women who had borne children had half the risk of suffering a fatal accident compared to the general population. Women who aborted were more than twice as likely to die from a fatal accident than women in the general population.

In a study of government-funded medical programs in Canada, researchers found that women who had undergone an abortion in the previous year were treated for mental disorders 41% more often than postpartum women, and 25% more often for injuries or conditions resulting from violence.

Similarly, a study of Medicaid payments in Virginia found that women who had state-funded abortions had 62% more subsequent mental health claims and 12% more claims for treatments related to accidents, compared to a case matched sample of women covered by Medicaid who had not had a state-funded abortion.

The STAKES study also found that the risk of dying from homicide for post-abortive women was more than four times greater than the risk of homicide among the general population.

This finding, especially when combined with the suicide and accident data, seems to indicated that women who abort are more likely to engage in risk-taking behavior.

The results contradict statements made by the pro-abortion movement that abortion is safer than childbirth for women. The National Abortion Federation, a group of 200 abortion facilities, says, "Abortion is one of the safest types of surgery. Complications from having an abortion…are less frequent and less serious than those associated with having birth."

Dr. David Reardon, Exec Dir of the Elliot Institute, a post-abortion resear

ch organization, believes the Finnish study is reliable. "…it's impeccable, primarily because of the data base that's used…they actually had medical records. Because they have socialized medicine they have complete medical records on women," Reardon said. [Post-Abortion Review, Apr-Jun 00; Conservative News Service, July 8, 2000; FRC News, 10/00]