Deirdre McQuade, an official for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has criticized a recent study by the Allan Guttmacher Institute on global abortion rates for its circular definitions, inaccurate analysis, and advocacy of legalized abortion.
The study, "Induced Abortion: Estimated Rates and Trends Worldwide," was published in the October 13, 2007 issue of The Lancet. It was written by researchers from the World Health Organization and the Allan Guttmacher Institute, a research organization affiliated with Planned Parenthood.
Ms. McQuade argued the study began by defining 'safe' abortions as 'those that meet legal requirements' in countries with permissive abortion laws. She found this definition suspect: "...by this unusual definition, legal abortions are 'safe' even if they kill women as well as their unborn children." The study also defined illegal abortions as 'harmful,' even when women experience no medical complications, because the women have to violate the law. "This is a closed semantic circle into which no fact about real-life women can intrude," McQuade said.
She also criticized the Lancet's editorial, which claimed the United States' Mexico City policy had worsened the worldwide abortion situation. The Mexico City policy forbids federal funding of organizations that perform or actively promote voluntary abortions. Ms. McQuade explained that according to the study itself, worldwide abortion numbers had substantially decreased even during the years when the policy was not in force.
Ms. McQuade concluded with a pro-life appeal: “Lost in the authors’ ideological fog is the fact that abortion always kills; legal or illegal, it sometimes also kills women, especially when they are poor and have a terrible health care system. Promoting more abortions will not change this. Rather than pitting women and their children against each other, we need to stand in solidarity with both and focus on improving the quality of global health care.”