Luther College student researches link between restrictive abortion laws and maternal mortality

August 9, 2017

Latin America possesses some of the world’s most restrictive abortion laws and also some of the highest maternal mortality rates. Rebecca Buse, Luther College junior of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, is researching the possible connections between these two phenomena for her summer student-faculty collaborative research project at the college.

Buse, the daughter of Pat and Cathy Buse, of Eden Prairie, is a 2015 graduate of Eden Prairie High School. She is majoring in international studies at Luther.

“I have learned that I work well on my own and have a lot of inner motivation and drive to get work done,” said Buse. “I have enjoyed focusing on one topic and learning as much about it as possible. I hope to take what I have learned and apply it to the rest of my studies at Luther, and maybe even my senior paper as well.”

Buse is working with Victoria Christman, Luther associate professor of history, on her project titled “Pro-Choice for Life? A Statistical Analysis of Abortion Law and Maternal Mortality.”

Maternal mortality rate is the annual number of female deaths per 100,000 live births from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy or its management, excluding accidental or incidental causes. Studying maternal mortality rate is especially important in Latin American countries where the Catholic Church has long encouraged stringent anti-abortion laws. The duo is using information from Latin America and around the globe to analyze what would happen if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned in the United States. They seek to emphasize the complexities of this issue, which is far less back and white than the simple pro-life vs. pro-choice language success. Their analysis so far indicates that allowing some provision for legal abortions might save a significant number of maternal and fetal lives.

The group’s collaboration is one of 26 summer student-faculty research projects funded through Luther’s College Scholars Program and Dean’s Office. Student-Faculty Summer Research projects provide students an opportunity to research topics of interest alongside Luther faculty. This program is one of a wide selection of experiential learning opportunities at Luther intended to deepen the learning process and that are part of Luther’s academic core.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,150, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college’s website: