NEW YORK, April 28 (C-FAM) – Nearly three million children die every year during labor and delivery or in the weeks just before birth, more than all deaths by HIV/AIDS. The UN does not even count them. A new study says abortion politics is one reason why. 

“In an era of global efforts for maternal health, a woman’s own aspiration of a live baby is missing from the world’s health agenda,” say the authors of a study in the prestigious medical journal Lancet.

About 98% of the 2.6 million yearly stillbirths occur in low- and middle-income countries, mostly due to complications during delivery. One in every 300 babies is stillborn in high-income countries, owing to a rise in obesity, smoking, and delayed childbearing. Unlike maternal and child deaths, the rate of stillbirths has not declined appreciably in decades.

One of the reasons stillbirth remains “in the shadows,” is because of pro-abortion sentiments, the report says. The World Health Organization (WHO) does not count unborn children who die before 28 weeks as stillborn, even though stillbirth of viable 22-week babies is common in the developed world. Shoring the data gap could lead to a 40% increase in the number of recorded stillbirths.

Lancet’s editor, Richard Horton, says not counting these children denies parents “the gravitas their grief demanded,” but “when one considers that in many countries abortion is allowed up to and sometimes beyond 24 weeks, one can begin to understand authorities’ reluctance to pursue the point.” Horton nevertheless finds no dilemma: “Every woman has the right to a safe abortion…but she also has the right to have the death of her [wanted] baby counted.” 

One of Horton’s strongest adversaries in his quest to advance better data has been the pro-abortion lobby. They opposed him last year when he published an independent study challenging WHO data and methodology on maternal health statistics they had been using to promote abortion.

Horton told the New York Times that many called him and urged him not to publish the study. When he did, abortion activists worked to discredit it, openly laughing when the report was mentioned at a UN-backed maternal and child health conference last June. WHO quietly adjusted its faulty data last September to put it in line with the Lancet figures, but in a way that has raised questions about the objectivity of WHO research.

The president of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), Gamal Serour, commented on the Lancet stillbirth study, saying family planning and reproductive rights should be the primary response since stillbirths have decreased where fertility has fallen, mainly in China.

By contrast, the study’s authors find that what reduced stillbirths by two-thirds in the developed world between 1950 and 1975 was “prevention and treatment of infection and improved obstetric care.”

The authors emphasize that, “This reduction occurred before more complex fetal surveillance and diagnostics and also coincided with major reductions in maternal and neonatal mortality. 60 years later, the poor progress to reduce all three of these pregnancy outcomes in low-income countries is not a knowledge gap but an action gap.”

This article reprinted with permission from