Justice Sotomayor is Wrong: Women Are Not Fourteen Times More Likely to Die from Pregnancy

Charlotte Lozier Institute  

Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan Include Debunked Statistic in Dissent


Washington, D.C.Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan included a thoroughly debunked statistic in their dissent of the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe, claiming that “an American woman is 14 times more likely to die by carrying a pregnancy to term than by having an abortion.”


Dr. James Studnicki, Sc.D., M.P.H., who serves as vice president of data analytics at Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI), replied:


“Anyone who takes that figure seriously has never looked at a statistics book in his or her life.  U.S. maternal mortality data is seriously flawed.  Several states don’t report abortion statistics at all, and in many of the states which do report, the data is inconsistent.


“In countries with comprehensive data on all pregnancy outcomes, study after study has shown that women who get abortions have much higher mortality rates than women who give birth.  In some of these studies based on comprehensive, real-world data, each abortion is linked to a 50 percent increase in the risk of a woman’s premature death.”


A 2017 peer-reviewed systematic analysis from CLI associate scholar Dr. David Reardon found 11 separate studies that examined death certificates linked to reproductive health records, and every one of the 11 studies showed elevated risks of death among women following abortion.  One example is from the Finnish government’s National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health, which found that women who had abortions were 3.5 times more likely to die in the subsequent year compared to women who gave birth.


Dr. Ingrid Skop, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., a board-certified OB/GYN who serves as CLI’s director of medical affairs, questioned the Justices’ premise that “abortions are medically necessary to prevent harm”:


“The reality is that medical care in America is now so advanced, even in high-risk pregnancies, that the usual result is the safe delivery of a healthy baby alongside a healthy mother.  There are rare cases where it’s necessary to deliver a baby pre-term to save the life of the mother, and sometimes the baby doesn’t survive.  But that’s not an abortion, where the intent is to take the life of a baby.  What I’m talking about is compassionate medical care that seeks to save both mother and baby, and if the baby doesn’t survive, to at least treat both mother and baby with dignity and respect.”


More information is available in CLI’s “Medical Indications for Separating a Mother and Her Unborn Child” fact sheet.


Charlotte Lozier Institute was launched in 2011 as the education and research arm of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. CLI is a hub for research and public policy analysis on some of the most pressing issues facing the United States and nations around the world. The Institute is named for a feminist physician known for her commitment to the sanctity of human life and equal career and educational opportunities for women.




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