By Peter J. Smith
NEW YORK, July 28, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pro-life human rights advocate and U.S. Congressman Chris Smith testified at a U.N. subcommittee hearing on the Millennium Development Goals, where he argued that strong evidence indicates that encouraging legal abortion would harm the U.N.‘s commitment to reducing maternal and child mortality rates all over the world.
The U.N. is deep in negotiations over the Outcome Document for the High-Level Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in which pro-abortion advocates are trying to include “reproductive health services”– language that can serve as a Trojan horse to introduce legal abortion into signatory countries with pro-life laws.
Smith, a member of the U.S. Foreign Affairs committee, and ranking member of the Africa and Global Health Subcommittee, spoke Tuesday before a hearing conducted by the International Subcommittee on International Organizations, telling committee members that the spread of legal abortion would actually undermine MDGs 4 and 5, goals dedicated respectively to reducing child and maternal mortality.
“The inclusion of legalized abortion or ‘reproductive health services’ defined as abortion in the Outcome Document would be unjust to the littlest humans, intellectually dishonest, and counterproductive to these successful efforts,” said Smith.
The congressman referenced the April 2010 Lancet medical journal, which published a study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation that indicated worldwide maternal mortality had been declining since 1980. As of 2008, the number of maternal deaths per year had dropped to 342,900 – a 40 percent decline from 526,300 in 1980. The report noted that had not the HIV/AIDS pandemic broken out, that drop could have been as much as 50 percent.
But Smith also pointed out that the Lancet study showed no correlation between the expansion of legal abortion and the drop in maternal mortality. He told the committee that the study showed, “Many of these countries with very low maternal mortality rates have laws that restrict abortion.”
Real success, he indicated, was due to governments improving basic, life-affirming health care services and conditions that encourage the socio-economic advancement of women.
“While still too high, this landmark report is encouraging to governments who have been seriously addressing maternal mortality in their countries by increasing the number of skilled birth attendants, the availability of c-sections for women with obstructed labor, access to health care including safe blood, education of women, and economic development,” he added.
However, Smith also pointed to evidence from studies showing that abortion itself can harm the chances of survival for subsequently born children by sharply increasing the risk of pre-term birth and low birth rate.
“Preterm birth is the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States, and causes one-fourth of infant mortality in the world,” Smith pointed out.
He said that at least 113 studies “show a significant association between abortion and subsequent premature and low birth weight births.”
One such study in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found that women with one abortion had a 36 percent increased risk for preterm birth; but for women who had two abortions, that statistic leapt to a 93 percent chance . It added that the risks for children being born with low birth weight were also comparable, increasing 35 percent after one abortion, and 72 percent after two abortions or more.
“Abortion is child mortality for the child aborted, and can be mortality or morbidity for future children,” continued Smith, adding that for these and other reasons, the term “safe abortion” is a misnomer.
Smith also said at least 102 studies show that women who abort set themselves up for “significant psychological harm, major depression, and elevated suicide risk.” He pointed to a comprehensive 2006 New Zealand study which “found that almost 80 percent of the 15-18 year olds who had abortions had major depression as compared to 31 percent of their peers.” Additionally, it found that 27 percent of 21-25 year olds who had aborted their children had seriously contemplated suicide, compared to 8 percent of their peers.
The congressman then recommended the international panel to seek to improve medical care for mothers and newborns, especially, in the “golden minute” right after birth, where birth asphyxia is a real danger. The condition he said is a major cause of infant mortality, killing one million newborns each year.
“Skilled attendance at birth, temperature support, stimulation to breathe and assisted ventilation through the use of low cost resuscitators are interventions we can and should be made available to achieve MDG 4,” he said.
Smith concluded his remarks by saying the MDG Summit Outcome Document “will be very important for guiding our steps as an international community over the next five years” and he exhorted those present to use their influence “to ensure the Outcome Document keeps us on the path of saving both mother and child.”
See related coverage by LifeSiteNews.com:
Planned Parenthood Leads Push for Abortion at UN High-Level MDG Review
From the Experts: The Keys to Ending Maternal Mortality
New Global Study Shows Maternal Mortality Significantly Lower Than Previously Thought
Chilean Maternal Mortality Study Undercuts Pro-Abortion Claims
New Zealand Study Finds Abortion Increases Risk of Mental Health Problems