Legalized abortion has reduced maternal mortality


“Troubling news: Maternal mortality is on the rise,” by Robert L. Barbieri, MD (October Editorial)

In 1972, the year before Roe v. Wade, the rate of maternal mortality in the United States was 34 deaths for every 100,000 births. In 1973, after legalization of abortion, the rate declined by 50%. Therefore, to the list of strategies to reduce maternal mortality, I would add: secure access to safe and legal abortion, when needed.

According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York, 1 of every 550 women who underwent illegal abortion died of complications. I think this point will be of interest to your readers.

E. Hakim-Elahi, MD
Elmhurst, NY

Dr. Barbieri responds: Safe abortion is important

I appreciate Dr. Hakim-Elahi’s important reminder that illegal abortions are associated with a high rate of maternal death. Dr. Hakim-Elahi has made major contributions to women’s health by leading efforts to make pregnancy termination as safe as possible. I deeply appreciate all his contributions to our field.

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