In the pre-antibiotic era prior to World War II, sepsis was the principal cause of maternal mortality and abortion related mortality. Even during this period hospitals which did no abortions (e.g. Margaret Hayne Maternity Hospital during the time when Dr. Cosgrove was in charge) had maternal mortality rates that were no higher than other institutions where so-called "therapeutic" abortion was practiced.
In this era of modern obstetrics, including the availability of modern technologies, including a vast array of antibiotics and other effective therapeutic agents, this situation still prevails. This is not because institutions not doing abortions are being selected out of high risk complicated cases but rather because alternative managements to abortion are equally effective in preventing maternal mortality.
During the time when laws proscribed abortion "except to save the life of the mother", abortions to save the life of the mother became virtually non-existent over a 100 year epoch. If "the life of the mother" is properly construed and not broadly defined to include nebulous threats to the quality of life or health, then the "life of the mother" exception should not result in an increase of abortions over a "no exceptions" statute.
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