MEXICO CITY, December 19, 2012, ( – Mexico City’s abortion rate has risen following the legalization of abortion-on-demand during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, according to a new study published in this month’s International Journal of Women’s Health.

However, the shift from illegal to legal abortions is not likely to have had a significant effect on the level of maternal mortality, the authors conclude, because the maternal mortality due to abortion is a tiny fraction of the total. They added the number of illegal abortions in Mexico has been vastly overestimated.


The conclusion contradicts the claims of pro-abortion groups, which claim that outlawing abortion will not reduce the number of abortions, and will only result in illegal and dangerous ones being performed.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers led by Dr. Elard Koch of Chile’s Catholic University of the Immaculate Conception, notes, “The abortion registry in Mexico DF suggests that abortion legalization is associated with an increase in the number of legally induced abortions. This is not surprising and has been well documented in developed countries. For example, induced abortion figures in Spain have steadily increased between 1987 (two years after its legal­ization) and 2008, from 16,728 to 115,812.”

The authors also found that the number of abortions in Mexico City, and in the country as a whole, have been exaggerated, calling into question statistics used by the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute to promote legalization of the killing of the unborn.

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“We found significant overestimations of abortion figures in the Federal Dis­trict of Mexico (up to 10-fold), where elective abortion has been legal since 2007. Significant overestimation of maternal and abortion-related mortality during the last 20 years in the entire Mexican country (up to 35 percent) was also found,” the authors write.

Although the category of “other abortions” rose between 2002 and 2008, the year following legalization, the authors cast doubt on the claim that this represented an increase in illegal abortions in Mexico, noting that violence against women increased dramatically during the period, and the abortions may very well have been induced by such violence.

“Thus, the observed 3.1 percent to 7.7 percent increase in the relative contribution of maternal deaths due to other abortion (O05) between 2002 and 2008 might be partially explained by an increase in violence towards women rather than an increase in illegal abortion,” the authors write. “Although a more in-depth analy­sis is required to evaluate this postulate, if correct, mortality by illegal abortion would be even lower than current figures.”

In contrast to the doomsaying of the Guttmacher Institute and other organizations that have sought to portray Mexico as suffering dire consequences from the failure to legalize abortions, the study’s researchers “found important progress in maternal health, reflected by the decrease in overall maternal mortality (30.6 percent) from 1990 to 2010.”  Maternal mortality from induced abortions plummeted in the period before abortion was legalized in Mexico City, from 2002 to 2008, when “the mortality ratio associ­ated with induced abortion decreased 22.9 percent.”


“The use of specific ICD codes revealed that currently, approximately 98 percent of maternal deaths in Mexico are related to causes other than induced abortion, such as hemorrhage, hypertension and eclampsia, indi­rect causes, and other pathological conditions,” the authors observe. “Therefore, only marginal or null effects would be expected from changes in the legal status of abortion on overall maternal mortality rates. Rather, maternal health in Mexico would greatly benefit from increasing access to emergency and specialized obstetric care. Finally, more reliable methodologies to assess abortion-related deaths are clearly required.”

The conclusions of the study, which was sponsored in part by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, were not received well by the Guttmacher Institute, which defended its method of supplementing government statistics with its own estimates of abortion.

“It is the same methodology that we have used in 20 countries since 1990, and our statistics are used by other organizations, including the UN, to calculate the incidence of safe and unsafe abortions in the world,” a representative told the BBC.