Having a legal abortion is up to 14 times safer than giving birth, a controversial new study claims.
American researchers from the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, suggest that women are more likely to die during or after childbirth than from complications of an abortion.
Researchers came to this conclusion after studying data from a leading sexual and reproductive health research centre, the Guttmacher Institute, on live births, pregnancy and abortion-related deaths.
The group of researchers discovered that between 1998 and 2005, one woman died during childbirth for every 11,000 babies born. In comparison, one woman in 167,000 died following a legal abortion procedure.
Although these findings will no doubt stir a heated debate among mothers and pro-life campaigners, the researchers add that their study wasn’t conducted to promote abortions.
The overall message, according to the researchers, is that both abortions and giving birth are safe.
"We're trying to help women who are having all reproductive experiences, know what to expect” and that abortion risks are often "exaggerated", says a spokesperson from the study, according to Reuters.
"Abortion care and pregnancy care should not really be any different than consenting people for any other procedure."
Leading provider of sexual and reproductive healthcare services, Marie Stopes International agrees with these findings.
A spokesperson told The Huffington Post: "We know from experience that abortion is a safe and straightforward procedure for women who choose not to continue with a pregnancy."
"We are pleased that this new research confirms this. Abortion is one of the safest health interventions and evidence repeatedly shows that it not linked with any short term or long term side effect.
"Unfortunately we also know that there are still too many abortions being carried out by unsafe providers, particularly in the developing world. Unsafe abortions are entirely preventable yet annually leave 8.5 million women in need of urgent medical care and cause 47,000 deaths – 13% of all maternal deaths globally.
"Organisations such as Marie Stopes International must continue to work in partnership with governments, donors, advocates and other service providers to make sure women all over the world are able to access safe abortion services when they choose, irrespective of where they live".
Anthony Ozimic of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) disagrees: "Whatever the merits or otherwise of this study and its authors’ conclusions, the fact remains that the Republic of Ireland, where abortion is banned, has one of the world’s best records on maternal health, better than the US or the UK where abortion is available easily.
"The key to saving pregnant women's lives, whether in the developed or developing world, are improvements in primary healthcare and specialist pregnancy care. Abortion neither treats conditions nor cures illness," Ozimic told The Huffington Post.
In the UK, there are roughly 189,574 abortions a year and of these abortions, 2,085 took place for children who would've been born with a disability, 775 for chromosomal abnormalities including Down's syndrome and 496 for problems with the nervous system.
Although the total number of deaths caused by abortions is not known, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), 8.2 women die from childbirth in every 100,000 babies born.