Medical Codings for Abortion-Related Deaths

In the World Health Organisation's computer programme for coding deaths, deaths that occur following an abortion are coded under maternal deaths resulting from pregnancy.

  • The WHO is the source of statistics for mortality comparisons between childbirth and abortion.
  • By including deaths following abortion in with deaths resulting from pregnancy, the figures can be extremely inaccurate.
  • An attempt to code a death due to abortion under an abortion category yields a "reject message"
  • Only a small number of abortion-related deaths actually qualify to be declared under abortion.
  • Women who have legal induced abortions face elevated mortality rates.
WHO International Coding for Death
The WHO (World Health Organization), whose computer program for coding deaths is used by many countries including NZ, is frequently the source of statistics for mortality comparisons between childbirth and abortion.

The WHO's coding rule no. 12, together with its recommendation no. 7, states that deaths due to medical and surgical treatment must be reported under the complication of the procedure and not under the condition or reason for treatment.

The WHO's maternal death definition is: "The death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management, but not accidental or incidental causes."
If abortion is mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, on the underlying cause line, the death gets coded as something else.
"The risk of mortality increases by almost 30% with each week of gestation, and approximately doubles for every two weeks after eight menstrual weeks" (p. 94);

"Ten to fifteen percent of all deaths due to abortion are caused by haemorrhage", [pp.77].

"Embolism accounts for 24% of abortion deaths". [pp.87].

"Infection accounts fully for 25% of all deaths resulting from abortion". [pp. 85].

"Mortality due to hysterectomy [caesarean section for termination of pregnancy] is quite high." [pp.61].

"The reason why pregnancies of less than six weeks carry a higher risk of major complications is that before seven to eight weeks, the cervix has not softened enough and dilatation, therefore, is more difficult and carries more risk of perforation and cervical injury. Also, menstrual extraction, done early in pregnancy, has a high rate of incomplete abortion with retention of tissue." [pp.69]

Delay of abortion from eight to sixteen weeks gestation increases the risk of a major complication by 300 to 1,300%. "Delay of suction curettage from eight to ten weeks gestation increases the risk of a major complication by 60%. Delay of abortion from eight to sixteen weeks gestation increases the risk of a major complication by 300 to 1,300%." [pp.71].

Abortion Inherently Unsafe
According to Dr David Reardon, director of the Elliot Institute:

"The percentage of maternal deaths due to abortion in undeveloped countries is unclear, and often exaggerated. Where abortion has been legalized, however, we know as certainty that legalization has not made it safe.

Legalisation has only served to expose a larger number of women to the physical and psychological complications associated with abortion. "Instead, legalization has only served to expose a larger number of women to the physical and psychological complications associated with abortion."

Reardon went on to say, "In the most basic measure, that of mortality, we know that women who have legal abortions face elevated mortality rates compared with women who have not been pregnant, women who carry to term, and women who miscarry," Reardon explained. "Abortion is inherently unsafe."

The Elliot Institute, which was founded in 1988, is a non-profit organisation dedicated to research, education and outreach regarding the effects of abortion on women, men, families and society.

Jeanne Head, R.N., the UN representative for the National Right to Life Committee, and International Right To Life Federation, and herself a former labor and delivery nurse says:

"The legalization of abortion does nothing to solve the underlying problem of poor health care in the developing world. Women generally at risk because they lack access to a doctor, hospital, or antibiotics, before legalization will face those same circumstances after legalization. And if legalization triggers a higher demand for abortion as it has in most countries, (as Stanley Henshaw of Planned Parenthood's research arm, the Guttamacher Institute, admits it does), more injured women will compete for those scarce resources." Read more here...