Contrary to 60 Minutes, Abortion Does Not Improve Maternal Mortality Rates

Yesterday, 60 Minutes published a report on Louisiana’s high maternal mortality rate (MMR) with a biased perspective correlating the reversal of Roe v. Wade with continued health problems, even dire ones, for women. The interview featured Dr. Rebecca Gee, the former Secretary of Louisiana’s Department of Health. She alleged that our 2023 Human Life Protection Act has made Louisiana such a dangerous place for women that a pregnant woman facing a medical emergency has to be near-death to get medical care. This could not be further from the truth.

Our pro-life law states that, in cases of a medical emergency, a physician can help a pregnant woman, and it does not have to be at the last second before death as Dr. Gee implies. Just take a look at the way the law reads: 

RS 14.87.1(1)(b) says, “Abortion shall not mean any one or more of the following acts, if performed by a physician:” 

Then, section V reads:

“(v)The performance of a medical procedure necessary in good faith medical judgment or reasonable medical judgment to prevent the death or substantial risk of death to the pregnant woman due to a physical condition, or to prevent the serious, permanent impairment of a life-sustaining organ of a pregnant woman. However, the physician shall make reasonable medical efforts under the circumstances to preserve both the life of the mother and the life of her unborn child in a manner consistent with reasonable medical practice.” 

As you see, Louisiana law allows a physician, in their good faith medical judgment, to perform a medical procedure to end a pregnancy to prevent the death, substantial risk of death, OR the serious impairment of a life-sustaining organ of the pregnant woman.  The law does not state she must wait until the last minute. Dr. Gee is creating a problem where one does not exist. Louisiana defers to the medical judgment of a doctor to care for the mother and the baby in a manner consistent with reasonable medical practices, even if the state of the pregnancy means that the baby will sadly not survive.

It does not surprise Louisiana Right to Life that Dr. Gee is criticizing pro-life laws.  Before she was the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health, Dr. Gee was a long-time advocate for abortion-on-demand.  In 2016, Louisiana Right to Life released a detailed overview of Dr. Gee’s history of abortion advocacy.  Dr. Gee’s support of legislation that would gut Louisiana’s pro-life laws is no surprise.

The interview also featured the story of Kaitlyn and Landon Joshua, a couple that suffered a miscarriage that was handled incorrectly by Women’s Hospital in Baton Rouge. Prior to her incident at Women’s, her OBGYN  refused to see her because she was not further than 12-weeks gestation and cited Louisiana’s pro-life law. This was a misinterpretation of the Human Life Protection Act, and the actions taken by her practitioners were unjustifiable.

It is a tragedy that Louisiana has a high MMR among pregnant women. However, legal abortion does not improve these rates. For example, when abortion was illegal in Ireland, they had some of the best maternal mortality rates in the world. The studies that indicate a correlation between high maternal mortality and abortion access fail to look at a number of important factors. For example, the recent study from Commonwealth Fund analyzed data from 2018-2020 while abortion was legal. They allege that where pro-life laws are in place women and infants fare worse than places where abortion is legal. However, they fail to consider that states with high MMR are ones with lower per capita incomes and higher poverty rates. Studies show significant correlation with income and public health.

Legal abortion causes the death of innocent unborn children and often results in negative physical and psychological effects for the mother. Louisiana’s pro-life post-Roe laws provide provisions to save the life of the mother in life-threatening medical emergencies. Public and private agencies are available in Louisiana to help mothers, both before and after birth. Our hope is that healthcare professionals and policy makers can focus on improving maternal healthcare rather than permitting abortion-on-demand.

Visit to learn more about Louisiana’s pro-life laws.