How many abortions are for the health of the mother?

Abortion is called a woman’s health issue, with the right to abortion necessary to protect a woman’s life, in many instances, and physical well-being in many more.  So what percentage of abortions are to save a mother’s life or to protect her health?  Not very many, according to a British study of abortion in that country:

A report to Parliament has revealed abortions performed in the United Kingdom to save the life of the mother are a stunningly low 0.006 percent of procedures.

David Alton, who for 18 years was a member of the House of Commons, wrote, “When the case for allowing legal abortion was first placed before Parliament it was argued that the law needed to be changed to deal with extremely serious situations.

“More than six million abortions later the figures reveal that in 99.5 percent of the cases where an unborn child’s life is ended there is no risk to the health of the mother,” he said.

The details came in a response from Earl Howe, the parliamentary undersecretary of state in the nation’s Department of Health, to Parliament. He confirmed from 1968 through 2011, the last year for which details were available,there were 6.4 million abortions for women in England and Wales.

“Of these, 143 (0.006 percent) were performed under Section 1(4), i.e. where the termination is immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman or to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman,” he wrote.

He noted another 24,778 were done on the grounds that a continued pregnancy would involve more risk to the mother than if the unborn child were destroyed.

via 0.006% of abortions to save mom’s life.

UPDATE:  Thanks to Todd in the comments for doing the math:  If there were 143 abortions to save the life of the mother out of 6.4 million, that would only be 0.002% of the total number of abortions, an even smaller figure than 0.006%, which would come to 384.  Whichever is the correct number, the percentage is miniscule.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Orianna Laun

    I used to think that abortion to save the life of the mother was completely permissible. Then I met my husband’s uncle. Grandma had a health issue when she was pregnant with her second child. The doctors told Grandpa that if she went through the surgery, there was a risk that neither might survive, but the chances were better if the baby was aborted. Grandpa said no. The surgery was done, both lived. Grandma passed away just recently: she lived to see her son’s four children grow up and her daughter’s first grandchild, Grandma’s first great-grandchild, and the very last person to whom she responded to at the end.

  • Orianna Laun

    I used to think that abortion to save the life of the mother was completely permissible. Then I met my husband’s uncle. Grandma had a health issue when she was pregnant with her second child. The doctors told Grandpa that if she went through the surgery, there was a risk that neither might survive, but the chances were better if the baby was aborted. Grandpa said no. The surgery was done, both lived. Grandma passed away just recently: she lived to see her son’s four children grow up and her daughter’s first grandchild, Grandma’s first great-grandchild, and the very last person to whom she responded to at the end.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Yeah, almost all babies killed by abortion are just being sacrificed to Mammon.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Yeah, almost all babies killed by abortion are just being sacrificed to Mammon.

  • http://christandmarriageagree.blogspot.com Harlan

    I remember a dear pro-life obstetric doctor who had one of those life threatening situations–he hospitalized the mother and when she tipped into serious danger took the baby and did all life saving things possible. It was sad, the baby was too young to survive, but I cannot see that as an abortion.

  • http://christandmarriageagree.blogspot.com Harlan

    I remember a dear pro-life obstetric doctor who had one of those life threatening situations–he hospitalized the mother and when she tipped into serious danger took the baby and did all life saving things possible. It was sad, the baby was too young to survive, but I cannot see that as an abortion.

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  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I know this is nitpicking, but given that the statistic is the headline (and the point of the piece), did anyone else notice that 143 is not 0.006% of 6.4 million?

    Which makes me wonder: which number is wrong? If 143 is correct, then 0.002% of abortions were to save the mom’s life. But if 0.006% is correct, then there were 384 abortions performed to save the mother’s life.

    Or, of course, neither could be correct. Which is why I hate it when the math doesn’t pan out. You just don’t know what the reporter did wrong.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I know this is nitpicking, but given that the statistic is the headline (and the point of the piece), did anyone else notice that 143 is not 0.006% of 6.4 million?

    Which makes me wonder: which number is wrong? If 143 is correct, then 0.002% of abortions were to save the mom’s life. But if 0.006% is correct, then there were 384 abortions performed to save the mother’s life.

    Or, of course, neither could be correct. Which is why I hate it when the math doesn’t pan out. You just don’t know what the reporter did wrong.

  • Joe

    Assuming some of the numbers are correct, is this really a new revelation to anyone? I have seen lots of numbers and statements from doctors making the case that the abortion is almost never required to advert death or serious health consequences to the mother over the years.

  • Joe

    Assuming some of the numbers are correct, is this really a new revelation to anyone? I have seen lots of numbers and statements from doctors making the case that the abortion is almost never required to advert death or serious health consequences to the mother over the years.

  • chuck

    100% of abotions wealth of the physicians

  • chuck

    100% of abotions wealth of the physicians

  • rlewer

    Abortions to actually save the mothers life have always been legal.

    The current practice has nothing to add to saving a mother’s life.

    It is all about keeping the baby from being born alive.

  • rlewer

    Abortions to actually save the mothers life have always been legal.

    The current practice has nothing to add to saving a mother’s life.

    It is all about keeping the baby from being born alive.

  • SKPeterson

    Todd – I noticed and refrained. 99.5% doesn’t work either and if you add in the ~25,000 additional you get another value (0.4% if irc). Govt. stats or public official. Take your pick.

  • SKPeterson

    Todd – I noticed and refrained. 99.5% doesn’t work either and if you add in the ~25,000 additional you get another value (0.4% if irc). Govt. stats or public official. Take your pick.

  • Bob

    Todd and SKP and Mr. Veith,
    I was just about to repost this and did the math as well. Not Good. Credibility really suffers when the math requires more questions. We (Christians) get ripped for this stuff.
    -Bob

  • Bob

    Todd and SKP and Mr. Veith,
    I was just about to repost this and did the math as well. Not Good. Credibility really suffers when the math requires more questions. We (Christians) get ripped for this stuff.
    -Bob

  • WisdomLover

    Well, the math was done by a member of the British Parliament, not any Christian organization. Here is the actual text. In a follow up remark he notes the number of abortions performed where “the continuance of pregnancy would involve the risk to the life of the woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated.” He correctly works out the percentages there 23,778 (not 24,778…that’s a typo in subsequent repetition of the figure) or 0.37%.

    Obviously, one of his clerks did a typo on the 0.006% figure (the actual percentage being about 1/3 of that.) And that typo made its way to us.

    Either way, the number of abortions done for the sake of the mother’s life is tiny.

    The 99.5% figure is obviously approximate. It sticks in the head better than 99.62%.

    I’d be interested to know how many abortions performed in the 99.62% of the cases result in the death of the mother. And is that number higher or lower than deaths due to ‘back alley’ abortions in the bad old days.

    My guess is that there are a lot more dead mothers now than then. Legalization of abortion has had this unintended, but utterly foreseeable consequence: There are a lot more abortions.

    My guess is that there are so many more that even with the reduced risk of the death of the mother as a result of the better practices available with legal abortion, there are more dead mothers.

    (RU-486 does not fall under the guess above….but not every abortion can be done with RU-486)

    And, of course, the death rate for infants as a result of abortion (by any means) is almost 100%.

  • WisdomLover

    Well, the math was done by a member of the British Parliament, not any Christian organization. Here is the actual text. In a follow up remark he notes the number of abortions performed where “the continuance of pregnancy would involve the risk to the life of the woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated.” He correctly works out the percentages there 23,778 (not 24,778…that’s a typo in subsequent repetition of the figure) or 0.37%.

    Obviously, one of his clerks did a typo on the 0.006% figure (the actual percentage being about 1/3 of that.) And that typo made its way to us.

    Either way, the number of abortions done for the sake of the mother’s life is tiny.

    The 99.5% figure is obviously approximate. It sticks in the head better than 99.62%.

    I’d be interested to know how many abortions performed in the 99.62% of the cases result in the death of the mother. And is that number higher or lower than deaths due to ‘back alley’ abortions in the bad old days.

    My guess is that there are a lot more dead mothers now than then. Legalization of abortion has had this unintended, but utterly foreseeable consequence: There are a lot more abortions.

    My guess is that there are so many more that even with the reduced risk of the death of the mother as a result of the better practices available with legal abortion, there are more dead mothers.

    (RU-486 does not fall under the guess above….but not every abortion can be done with RU-486)

    And, of course, the death rate for infants as a result of abortion (by any means) is almost 100%.

  • SKPeterson

    WL – I was thinking he probably should have said something on the order of “less than one-half of one percent of all abortions have been done for the health of the mother.” That would have been more accurate and would have stuck in the head just as good as “99.5%”. But, as you say, somewhat trivial differences, which is why I held off on commenting originally.

  • SKPeterson

    WL – I was thinking he probably should have said something on the order of “less than one-half of one percent of all abortions have been done for the health of the mother.” That would have been more accurate and would have stuck in the head just as good as “99.5%”. But, as you say, somewhat trivial differences, which is why I held off on commenting originally.

  • Michael B.

    @Harlan

    “but I cannot see that as an abortion.”

    How is that not an abortion?

  • Michael B.

    @Harlan

    “but I cannot see that as an abortion.”

    How is that not an abortion?

  • Michael B.

    “Or, of course, neither could be correct. Which is why I hate it when the math doesn’t pan out. You just don’t know what the reporter did wrong.”

    I’m shocked. A factual error on WND?

    Seriously, Fox News probably has more professional reporters than WND.

  • Michael B.

    “Or, of course, neither could be correct. Which is why I hate it when the math doesn’t pan out. You just don’t know what the reporter did wrong.”

    I’m shocked. A factual error on WND?

    Seriously, Fox News probably has more professional reporters than WND.

  • helen

    Michael B a@ 12
    Perhaps because the baby was given as much of a chance as possible,
    instead of being put in a trash can or drowned or had its head crushed (as in “partial birth” abortion).
    [So called "partial birth" abortion is riskier for the mother than normal birth at the same stage!]

  • helen

    Michael B a@ 12
    Perhaps because the baby was given as much of a chance as possible,
    instead of being put in a trash can or drowned or had its head crushed (as in “partial birth” abortion).
    [So called "partial birth" abortion is riskier for the mother than normal birth at the same stage!]

  • johnincolorado

    Peace to all off you but allow me to focus the issue. Why are you splitting hairs on the numbers? DEAD children – that’s the issue. Murder for convenience. That’s the issue. Justifying aborting the life of babies for the sake of making sex more convenient. That’s the issue.

    I think pro-abortion advocates consider the back alley abortion issue as a women’s health issue, too.

    The stats are shocking and remarkable. Completely disheartening. Incredible tragedy. This is a messed up world we live in. My heart breaks.

  • johnincolorado

    Peace to all off you but allow me to focus the issue. Why are you splitting hairs on the numbers? DEAD children – that’s the issue. Murder for convenience. That’s the issue. Justifying aborting the life of babies for the sake of making sex more convenient. That’s the issue.

    I think pro-abortion advocates consider the back alley abortion issue as a women’s health issue, too.

    The stats are shocking and remarkable. Completely disheartening. Incredible tragedy. This is a messed up world we live in. My heart breaks.

  • Michael B.

    @johnincolorado
    @helen

    Either abortion is killing a baby or it isn’t. The reason for the abortion doesn’t change this. That is, the most compelling reason for an abortion kills just the same as the most frivolous reason. If abortion is killing a baby, then a mother who has an abortion to save her life is killing her baby to save her own life. For you, the personhood of the fetus diminishes as the reason for an abortion becomes more compelling. What would you say about a parent who kills their born child to save their own life?

  • Michael B.

    @johnincolorado
    @helen

    Either abortion is killing a baby or it isn’t. The reason for the abortion doesn’t change this. That is, the most compelling reason for an abortion kills just the same as the most frivolous reason. If abortion is killing a baby, then a mother who has an abortion to save her life is killing her baby to save her own life. For you, the personhood of the fetus diminishes as the reason for an abortion becomes more compelling. What would you say about a parent who kills their born child to save their own life?

  • Elvis

    So you proclaim Pro Life? I am fascinated by the Pro Life stance as it is intriguing by the reasons and mere definition most support it. I find it utterly appalling that anyone of sound mind and spirit would support bringing children into this world that are unwanted, unloved, go to sleep frightened, hungry and alone nearly every night.

    I do not find it morally or ethically appropriate to use abortion for regular birth control practices however no crime worse than birthing a child into an ugly world to fend for themselves. Who takes care of them and loves them as they bounce from home to home and school to school?

    I spare you the details of a child in the “system” as the naivety of your bubble is impenetrable but I would say for every orphan Annie there are millions of children living nightmarish lives across the world born by undeserving parents into a unforgiving world.

    Sadly it seems that God is too busy guiding the life of your children, of those parents of sound mind and moral rigidity instead of those of moral turpitude.

  • Elvis

    So you proclaim Pro Life? I am fascinated by the Pro Life stance as it is intriguing by the reasons and mere definition most support it. I find it utterly appalling that anyone of sound mind and spirit would support bringing children into this world that are unwanted, unloved, go to sleep frightened, hungry and alone nearly every night.

    I do not find it morally or ethically appropriate to use abortion for regular birth control practices however no crime worse than birthing a child into an ugly world to fend for themselves. Who takes care of them and loves them as they bounce from home to home and school to school?

    I spare you the details of a child in the “system” as the naivety of your bubble is impenetrable but I would say for every orphan Annie there are millions of children living nightmarish lives across the world born by undeserving parents into a unforgiving world.

    Sadly it seems that God is too busy guiding the life of your children, of those parents of sound mind and moral rigidity instead of those of moral turpitude.

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  • sherry

    So, by your rationale for the murder of millions of innocents given neither voice nor vote in the decision to exterminate them ‘for their own good to avoid a lifetime of fear and misery and rejection’, the logical extension of your reasoning would apply not just to unwanted infants in the womb, but to those already born.. at any age… who find themselves trapped in a life of comparable misery.

    Interesting view, and not a new one at that. Feel your life is a fruitless existence devoid of the love and attention you want and no doubt deserve… don’t worry, murder for hire will send a compassionate hit’man to save you from further distress, whether you actually want to be bumped off or not… but after all, it’s really for your own good.

    You are the one living in an impenetrable bubble if you truly do not know that abortion has become very big business… one that involves billions of dollars and makes not only abortionists, but lawyers, supposedly pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood, and politicians both richer and much more powerful.

    Let me be clear… what an individual decides to do with his or her own life should be entirely up to that individual. However, make no misguided mistake about it. Doing what you want to do with your own life is one thing…. Doing whatever you want to do to another individual, particularly forced extermination of life itself, regardless of your reason, is an entirely different matter.

    Only arrogance on the scale of flat-out hubris allows one to feel such an astonishingly superior sense of entitlement.

    The impersonal and ever-consistent laws of the cosmos no doubt have your name and the names of like-minded others on the karmic pay-back list already… but don’t worry, no matter how unfair you may find karma’s kick to be, it will really be for your own ‘good.’

  • sherry

    So, by your rationale for the murder of millions of innocents given neither voice nor vote in the decision to exterminate them ‘for their own good to avoid a lifetime of fear and misery and rejection’, the logical extension of your reasoning would apply not just to unwanted infants in the womb, but to those already born.. at any age… who find themselves trapped in a life of comparable misery.

    Interesting view, and not a new one at that. Feel your life is a fruitless existence devoid of the love and attention you want and no doubt deserve… don’t worry, murder for hire will send a compassionate hit’man to save you from further distress, whether you actually want to be bumped off or not… but after all, it’s really for your own good.

    You are the one living in an impenetrable bubble if you truly do not know that abortion has become very big business… one that involves billions of dollars and makes not only abortionists, but lawyers, supposedly pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood, and politicians both richer and much more powerful.

    Let me be clear… what an individual decides to do with his or her own life should be entirely up to that individual. However, make no misguided mistake about it. Doing what you want to do with your own life is one thing…. Doing whatever you want to do to another individual, particularly forced extermination of life itself, regardless of your reason, is an entirely different matter.

    Only arrogance on the scale of flat-out hubris allows one to feel such an astonishingly superior sense of entitlement.

    The impersonal and ever-consistent laws of the cosmos no doubt have your name and the names of like-minded others on the karmic pay-back list already… but don’t worry, no matter how unfair you may find karma’s kick to be, it will really be for your own ‘good.’

  • sherry

    So, by your rationale for the murder of millions of innocents given neither voice nor vote in the decision to exterminate them ‘for their own good to avoid a lifetime of fear and misery and rejection’, the logical extension of your reasoning would apply not just to unwanted infants in the womb, but to those already born.. at any age… who find themselves trapped in a life of comparable misery.

    Interesting view, and not a new one at that. Feel your life is a fruitless existence devoid of the love and attention you want and no doubt deserve… don’t worry, murder for hire will send a compassionate hit’man to save you from further distress, whether you actually want to be bumped off or not… but after all, it’s really for the best.

    You are the one living in an impenetrable bubble if you truly do not know that abortion has become very big business… one that involves billions of dollars and makes not only abortionists, but lawyers, supposedly pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood, and politicians both richer and much more powerful.

    Let me be clear… what an individual decides to do with his or her own life should be entirely up to that individual. However, make no misguided mistake about it. Doing what you want to do with your own life is one thing…. Doing whatever you want to do to another individual, particularly forced extermination of life itself, regardless of your reason, is an entirely different matter.

    Only arrogance on the scale of flat-out hubris allows one to feel such an astonishing sense of superiority and entitlement.

    The impersonal and ever-consistent laws of the cosmos no doubt have your name and the names of millions of like-minded others on the karmic pay-back list already… but don’t worry, no matter how unfair you may find karma’s kick to be, it will really be for your own ‘good.’

  • sherry

    So, by your rationale for the murder of millions of innocents given neither voice nor vote in the decision to exterminate them ‘for their own good to avoid a lifetime of fear and misery and rejection’, the logical extension of your reasoning would apply not just to unwanted infants in the womb, but to those already born.. at any age… who find themselves trapped in a life of comparable misery.

    Interesting view, and not a new one at that. Feel your life is a fruitless existence devoid of the love and attention you want and no doubt deserve… don’t worry, murder for hire will send a compassionate hit’man to save you from further distress, whether you actually want to be bumped off or not… but after all, it’s really for the best.

    You are the one living in an impenetrable bubble if you truly do not know that abortion has become very big business… one that involves billions of dollars and makes not only abortionists, but lawyers, supposedly pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood, and politicians both richer and much more powerful.

    Let me be clear… what an individual decides to do with his or her own life should be entirely up to that individual. However, make no misguided mistake about it. Doing what you want to do with your own life is one thing…. Doing whatever you want to do to another individual, particularly forced extermination of life itself, regardless of your reason, is an entirely different matter.

    Only arrogance on the scale of flat-out hubris allows one to feel such an astonishing sense of superiority and entitlement.

    The impersonal and ever-consistent laws of the cosmos no doubt have your name and the names of millions of like-minded others on the karmic pay-back list already… but don’t worry, no matter how unfair you may find karma’s kick to be, it will really be for your own ‘good.’

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  • Rita

    Wow, Sherry. Thank you for stating my thoughts so much more descriptively and articulately than I could have.

  • Rita

    Wow, Sherry. Thank you for stating my thoughts so much more descriptively and articulately than I could have.

  • http://mizjo.hubpages.com Joanna Moran

    Well put, Sherry. Abortionists, lawyers, Planned Parenthood, politicians et al, are positively enriched by this heinous practice. No matter how thick a defence they put up that the murder of the unborn is to protect the health of the mother. Unadulterated hog-wash.
    Why doesn’t mommy practise some preventive measures instead of finding later that baby is so inconvenient?

  • http://mizjo.hubpages.com Joanna Moran

    Well put, Sherry. Abortionists, lawyers, Planned Parenthood, politicians et al, are positively enriched by this heinous practice. No matter how thick a defence they put up that the murder of the unborn is to protect the health of the mother. Unadulterated hog-wash.
    Why doesn’t mommy practise some preventive measures instead of finding later that baby is so inconvenient?

  • HHH

    Well, math is not my strong point, but when I run the numbers… 143/6,400,000 my result is 0.000022343 abortions are done “for the health of the mother” and 24, 778/6,400,000 results in 0.003871562 abortions being done because of the perceived risk of continuing the pregnancy. If I add the 143 and 24,778 the result is 24,921 which when you divide by 6,400,000 the result is 0.003893906 – no matter how I do the math, it seems that abortion cannot be condoned.


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