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August 26, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – An international host of pro-abortion organizations is urging the United Nations to make September 28 an official UN “Safe Abortion Day,” and pro-life leaders are warning their supporters around the world to prepare a counter-campaign with up-to-date data showing abortion is unsafe whether legalized or not.

A group self-publicizing itself as the “International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion with a network of almost 1,800 groups and individuals from 115 countries” has sent an open letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the heads of UN sub-agencies calling for the United Nations to recognize the initiative.

“Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures,” the letter declares. “Yet half of all abortions internationally are still unsafe, making the need for concerted action urgent. Women are still suffering and dying from complications of unsafe abortion. Globally, deaths from unsafe abortion were estimated at 43,684 in 2013, accounting for 14.9 percent of all maternal deaths.”

There is no mention of 40-50 million unborn children killed by safe and unsafe abortions every year.

What the letter also fails to point out is that maternal mortality has declined by 40 percent since 2005, and deaths caused by abortion complications have declined because of advances in literacy and health.

The letter, also citing the proliferation of regional non-binding covenants and treaties calling for decriminalization of abortion, urges the General Assembly to fall into line.

The campaign drew a sharp rebuke from Rebecca Oas, Ph.D., associate research director for pro-life organization C-Fam. She has done extensive research on maternal mortality causes.

“What women need is better maternal healthcare,” she told LifeSiteNews. She added that deaths of women after abortions are higher in countries where live births are also less safe. “But there are countries with good maternal health that also have strong legal protections for the unborn child.”

Steve Phelan of Virginia-based Human Life International also rejected the idea of the so-called Safe Abortion Day. “The call to make September 28 a kind of abortion holiday is, for the moment, confined to the far Left,” Phelan told LifeSiteNews. “They are poised for a big move at the United Nations. There will be opposition there, but pro-life NGOs cannot take this for granted.”

He added that he found it “amazing” that “these pro-abortion radicals deny the existence of the majority of women who are pro-life and who resent having their femininity reduced to the act of killing an unborn child. This is especially true when you see the very real problems women face around the world, from sex slavery to mutilation to genuine systemic inequalities. There could be so much for everyone to unite in supporting, then these radicals try to wrap death in the middle of legitimate needs and health concerns like the Zika virus, which abortion neither cures nor prevents. It is an injustice, and women will realize it as such.”

Phelan advised local and national pro-life organizations worldwide to be proactive in case the pro-abortion groups hold rallies that generate positive publicity in the local news media.

No research organization has done more to refute the alleged link between criminalization of abortion and high maternal mortality than the Chile-based Melisa Institute. It has tracked that country’s maternal mortality rate through both restrictive and permissive abortion regimes and found its MMR declined steadily regardless of the state of the abortion law.

Last year, Melisa released a study that compared 14 Mexican states that protected the unborn with 18 states where abortion was permitted. It found over a 10-year period that the more restrictive states had a 23 percent lower MMR and a post-abortive mortality rate up to 47 percent lower.

A Melisa researcher, Dr. John Thorp of the University of North Carolina medical school, said the study “pretty much refutes the conventional wisdom” that freer access to abortion will reduce maternal fatalities because abortions will be done in safe conditions.

Another tireless researcher for the truth about abortion’s health impact on women is Priscilla Coleman, professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University and founder of the World Expert Consortium for Abortion Research and Education (WECARE).

The WECARE site contains much of Coleman’s research on the dire mental health consequences of abortion, as well as her refutations of pro-abortion research from organizations such as the Guttmacher Institute. Coleman took apart Guttmacher’s 2014 report on declining abortion numbers both worldwide and in the United States.

Guttmacher argued that the U.S. decline had nothing to do with the increase in abortion restriction during the same period in many states (such as waiting periods, requirements that parents be informed of underage daughters’ intentions, requiring clients to be informed of health risks).

In a 2014 rebuttal, Coleman notes that the researchers at Guttmacher, which was founded by Planned Parenthood and still receives funding from the abortion provider, “prefer to attribute their findings to unmeasured factors (supposed declines in unintended pregnancy rates and increased use of contraception).”

But Coleman says the empirically measurable increases in legislative restrictions are the more likely cause of the 13 percent decline in abortions over six years from 2008 to 2014.

Then, Coleman notes, Guttmacher says the legislative changes “undoubtedly made it more difficult and costly for facilities to continue to provide services and for women to access them.” Because the number of abortion clinics declined steadily during the same period, why, Coleman asks, can’t Guttmacher admit the obvious: tougher laws make for fewer abortions.

Rosemary Westwood, while advocating for Safe Abortion Day in on August 22, leads off with statement as if it were uncontested: “Among the confounding aspects of anti-abortion laws is the fact that they have a negligible impact on actual abortion rates.”

C-Fam’s Oas said it would be a mistake for the Secretary General to endorse abortion and put himself “at odds with many member states and with the long-standing consensus in negotiated UN documents. If the SG and the heads of UN agencies were to grant this request, it would only further the impression that they are more beholden to a radical and divisive agenda than to the world's governments that make up the UN.  This is a desperate attempt to appeal to the elites for symbolic action after consistently failing to win their case in substantive negotiations.”