Pregnancy Is a Medical Condition

And like any medical condition, it can cause you irreparable harm.

Note: I originally published this article back in 2012, but earlier this year I updated the statistics in it with some newer data, just to have in my writing samples folder under medical/science based articles I’ve written. But today I read an important piece on Medium, by @Cecilyk (, that got me thinking I wanted to post the more recent version of this article. Because those who dare to speak out against abortion and birth control rights, while being utterly ignorant to the harm pregnancy and childbirth can cause, need to shut up until they’ve educated themselves. Especially the politicians, who are too often the most ignorant of all.

It seems that the GOP thinks pregnancy is a benign condition. Why shouldn’t women be forced to endure something like that, if they dare have unprotected sex, are raped, or just have protected sex where the protection fails? It’s not that big a deal, it’s not that difficult, it’s not THAT dangerous. So let’s examine this notion with some random (but all back-link traced) facts.

  • Up to 85% of women experience nausea during pregnancy[1].
  • Hyperemesis gravidarum [2], also known as severe morning sickness, affects up to 13% of those women. This can lead to weight loss, dehydration, and hospitalization. In most cases, these women continue experiencing severe nausea through their entire pregnancy.
  • Women who have had gestational diabetes have up to a 35–65% percent chance of developing diabetes in the next 10–20 years, based on other risk factors.[2]
  • New diagnostic criteria for gestational diabetes will increase the proportion of women diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Using these new diagnostic criteria, an international, multicenter study of gestational diabetes found that 18 percent of the pregnancies were affected by gestational diabetes [3].
  • Preeclampsia affects 2–8% of pregnancies each year[3]. Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy (of which preeclampsia is one) are responsible for 76,000 deaths a year[4]. Possible effects of preeclampsia are bleeding problems, placental abruption, rupture of the liver, stroke and HELLP syndrome. Women who suffer from preeclampsia also have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, later in life — in some cases it can double their risk.[5]
  • HELLP syndrome occurs in about 1 in 1600 pregnancies[6], but in 10–20% of women who experience preeclampsia. Possible effects of HELLP syndrome include disseminated intravascular coagulation (a clotting disorder that leads to excess bleeding, i.e. hemorrhage), pulmonary edema, kidney failure, liver hemorrhage and failure, placental abruption and ultimately death.
  • Deep vein thrombosis has an incidence of 1 in 1,000 to 2,000 pregnancies in the United States, and is the second most common cause of maternal death in developed countries, after bleeding.[7]
  • Ectopic pregnancies, where a pregnancy develops outside the uterus, account for about 1–2% of pregnancies in the developed world — which comes out to about 2 million women a year.[8] Ectopic pregnancies are almost never viable. The most common effect on the mother is internal hemorrhaging which can, in rare cases, lead to death.
  • Based on 2009 statistics, each year approximately 950,000 women (low estimates say) are suffering postpartum depression.[9] That just being women who will admit to it, by the way. About .1% of those women will experience postpartum psychosis, a condition which has led to suicides and infanticide.
  • More mothers will suffer from postpartum depression and related illnesses this year (from 2009) than the combined number of new cases for any gender of tuberculosis, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy.
  • The United States spends more on health care than any other country in the world, and the highest percentage of those dollars (about $86 billion) is spent on maternity care; yet, two to three American women die per day of pregnancy-related causes, making women in the United States — particularly minorities — more likely than their counterparts in 40 other countries to die having a baby.
  • The WHO estimates that 1000 women a day die from complications due to pregnancy. For every 100,000 live births in the United States, 14 mothers will die. There are about 4 million live births in the US every year.
  • More than 600 women in the U.S. will die this year, as a result of pregnancy. If birth control and/or abortion were made illegal, that number would increase significantly [10].

So, who wouldn’t want to be pregnant, right? What a benign and safe activity some people feel they have the right to force on others. Can you just imagine what health care mandates would look like if men could experience the “joys of childbirth?”

And for the record…

If any of those 600+ women were forced to have a baby, by direct legislation restricting birth control options or other sanctioned forms of intimidation, that would amount to the government killing those women. At the least I would call that state-sanctioned manslaughter (and yes, I see the irony of the word). Actually, in some states you could probably make a case for depraved indifference to human life, which brings the charge up to second degree murder.

It doesn’t matter what you think about abortion, about birth control, about sex, about non-procreative sex, or anything else on this subject. You can think anything you want, and make any personal decisions you choose. But you have no right to make life and death decisions for another human being while actively ignore the facts and the risks. And if the government tried to do that to you in any other capacity, you’d flip your fracking lid (as evidence by the “death panel” hysteria over HCR).

Yes, pregnancy can be a blessing, but it can also be fatal.









[9] My postpartum depression included random bouts of uncontrollable crying, panic attacks and (sometimes severe) paranoia. I experience this for a few weeks before I finally got help. I had to be medicated until my son was about 6 months old. Though I was a single mother, I was lucky enough to have family that helped me — and my son — through that. Not all women are so fortunate.

[10] Don’t pretend that’s editorializing, it’s not. If birth control or abortion were made illegal, the number of women getting pregnant could go down (though highly unlikely), but not enough to prevent the incidence of completed pregnancies from going up. There is NO statistic that would suggest otherwise — people are not going to stop having sex because they take away birth control. The number of pregnancies would increase, and the maternal mortality rates (without some medical breakthrough) would increase in proportion. This is just common sense and the very basics of statistical analysis.