Women who have had abortions suffer an increased risk of anxiety, depression, and suicide. A study published in a recent edition of the Journal of Anxiety Disorders found that women who aborted their unintended pregnancies were 30 percent more likely to subsequently report all the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder than those women who had carried their unintended pregnancies to term.
A study of a state-funded medical insurance program in California published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry in 2002 showed that the rate of mental health claims for women who aborted was 17 percent higher than those who had carried their children to term. And, according to a 1996 article in the British Medical Journal and a 2002 article in the Southern Medical Journal, the risk of death from suicide is two to six times higher for women who have had abortions when compared, again, with women who have given birth.
Several studies analyzed in a landmark 2003 article in the Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey show that induced abortion also increases the risk of placenta previa by 50 percent and doubles the risk of pre-term birth in later pregnancies. Placenta previa – where the placenta implants at the bottom of the uterus and covers the cervix – places the lives of both mother and child at risk in that later pregnancy.
Pre-term birth is associated with low birth-weight babies, and very low birth-weight babies (those born between 20 and 27 weeks) have 38 times the risk of having cerebral palsy – not to mention medical costs 28 times greater — than full-term babies. According to Dr. Byron Calhoun, director of the Antenatal Diagnostic Center at Rockford Memorial Hospital in Illinois, approximately 30 percent of pre-term births – which now account for 6 percent of all births — are attributable to prior abortions. But that’s just the beginning.
The link between abortion and breast cancer has attracted much media attention. It is important to understand that there are two different mechanisms by which abortion can increase the risk of breast cancer – one is beyond dispute, the other hotly contested. It is now common medical knowledge that a full-term pregnancy, especially before the age of 32, acts as a protective mechanism against breast cancer. Thus, research shows that teenagers with a family history of breast cancer who have abortions before their 18th birthday have an incalculably high risk of developing breast cancer.
Indeed, an abortion clinic in Portland, Oregon, recently settled a lawsuit with a 19-year-old woman who claimed the clinic had failed to inform her of this link between abortion and breast cancer – especially since she’d indicated a family history of breast cancer on her intake form. Approximately one-fifth of women procuring abortions are teenagers, and half are younger than 25 years old. The risk of breast cancer is high for those young women who are delaying their first full-term pregnancy through abortion, yet such women are rarely informed of this indisputable link.
The more hotly contested link – though one supported by numerous epidemiological studies and breast physiology – is that abortion itself can cause breast cancer. Through abortion, a woman artificially terminates her pregnancy at a time when her breast cells have been exposed to high levels of potentially cancer-initiating estrogen but before those cells have matured into cancer-resistant cells (as they ultimately do in a full-term pregnancy). According to breast surgeon Dr.
Angela Lanfranchi, “The same biology that accounts for 90 percent of all risk factors for breast cancer accounts for the abortion–breast cancer link. ” Astonishingly, many states do not require that abortion-related complications be reported to their health departments. Nevertheless, a review of available data reveals that thousands of women are injured each year from short-term complications such as hemorrhaging, uterine perforation, and infection. The U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approximates that one woman in 100,000 dies from complications associated with first-trimester abortions.
A 1997 study reported in Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey, however, found maternal deaths from abortion to be grossly underreported to the CDC – probably because such reporting is entirely voluntary. Further, a 1994 article in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology revealed that abortions performed at more than 16 weeks’ gestation have 15 times the risk of maternal mortality as those performed during the first trimester. The same study also showed that black women and other minorities – who have a disproportionate number of abortions when compared with white women – are also 2. 5 times more likely than white women to die of an bortion. Finally, due to the FDA’s rush to get RU-486, the so-called abortion pill, onto the market quickly, three American women have already died, and scores of others have suffered serious drug-related complications. When Planned Parenthood estimates that 43 percent of women will have abortions before they turn 45 years old, and with more than a million abortions performed each year, these collected data reveal a serious women’s health issue that must be addressed. Yet all too often, the evidence is simply denied or ignored. Is Legal Abortion ‘Rare and Safe’? One of the common arguments used in the run-up to Roe v.
Wade was the claim that legal abortion would be safer than the “back alley” abortions that – advocates alleged – killed 5,000 to 10,000 women each year. As many now know, one of the two men leading the change, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, OB-GYN and co-founder of NARAL Pro-Choice America, later recanted the claim, admitting that he and other pro-abortion activists simply fabricated the figure to further the cause of abortion rights. This is not, of course, to say that illegal abortions were safe; though the actual data are nowhere close to the 10,000 claimed, at least 39 women died from illegal abortions in 1972.
But an additional 24 women died that year from legal abortions in states that had weakened their laws in the years before Roe came down. As the medical data above reveal, more than three decades of legal abortion have not made the procedure much safer – women are still dying or suffering serious harm. Even Warren Hern, noted abortionist and author of Abortion Practice, a leading medical textbook, writes, “[T]here are few surgical procedures given so little attention and so underrated in its potential hazard as abortion. ”