|Abortion and Health Risks for Women|
See also: Catholic Church's teaching on Abortion |
Abortion: an overview |
Abortion: a comprehensive study
HLI (Ireland) understands the many pressures that compel women to have an abortion. The father of the child, or the woman's parents may not be supportive, they may be in difficult financial circumstances, or the timing may be totally unplanned.
HLI (Ireland) is aware of the agonising dilemma that faces most women who decide to abort. On the one hand the maternal instinct seeks to nurture and protect the life growing in the womb. However her life at that time may seem so overwhelming that it may seem impossible with a new baby. As the baby grows within her, the moral dilemma gets worse, and the decision becomes more difficult.
HLI (Ireland) do not believe in burdening a woman with guilt, if she has had an abortion. The Lord gives unquestioning forgiveness to those who seek it. Guilt is for those who cannot understand this. HLI is pro woman. There are many pro life feminists, though that may appear hard to believe from media coverage.
Germaine Greer and Norma Mc Corvey are two women who were pivotal figures in the 'women's movement' in the 60's and 70's. Both have now adopted essentially prolife positions. Emily Pankhurst an original founder of the Womens Rights movement, was also vehemently anti abortion. She described it as another evil committed by men on women. This is an irony given the pro abortion stance of 'Emily's List' in the Labour party of the UK.
Despite being the most common type of operation in many countries that have legalised abortion, it is the only operation where the practitioners very often have a constitutional and legal right not to tell the victims of the risks involved. There are many so called 'feminists' who have resisted every effort to educate women of these risks. HLI(Ireland) believes that there are at least two victims of abortion- one wounded, one dead. There is no doubt that not only does the unborn child suffer an agonising death, but that abortion itself causes physical and psychological damage to women. Abortion is also big business.
Not only do women suffer physical and emotional trauma, they take the risk of aborting the only child they may ever conceive, due to subsequent fertility problems.
Let us consider all the main facts in view of the pro abortion slogan "freedom of choice". What about the women who may no longer be able to have children again, and who was never told all the facts? After the experience of millions of women who have experienced abortion, any pro abortion advocate who fails to acknowledge the extent of abortion trauma, can justifiably be accused of indifference to women's suffering.
The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) the main global promoters of abortion, have no interest at all in authentic women's health. Their main agenda is obvious in poor countries like India, Indonesia, Peru, China and elsewhere, where they have been allowed to have an influence. Their polices have resulted in millions of forced sterilisation's, millions of forced abortions and incalculable misery, coupled with untold physical and psychological trauma.
The table below outlines all the main risks. Each item in the table has a link to more information on the subject and the scientific references and source of materials.
Women who have had an abortion have increases in
|Post Abortion Syndrome||
This is real and serious. Studies in Finland found that the rate of suicide among women who had an abortion was 6 times that of women who had never had one.
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What is the connection between breast cancer and abortion?
The Likely Abortion-Breast Cancer Mechanism.
Cancers seem to begin in immature, undifferentiated breast cells, which are those that have not yet specialized. These cells proliferate in the first trimester of pregnancy, stimulated by increased concentrations of the female hormone estrogen. In the second half of pregnancy, these tissues grow under the influence of human placental lactogen and other hormones, and differentiate rapidly into specialized milk-producing tissue which is less susceptible to malignancies than undifferentiated cells.
This process is cut short if the mother has an abortion. Some studies show that miscarriages do not appear to increase the risk of breast cancer, possibly because a miscarriage is a natural process that takes place over several days, whereas abortion is an abrupt interruption of the pregnancy that does not allow the body's hormones enough time to adjust properly.
The Increased Risks of Breast Cancer
More than 50 studies on a possible abortion-breast cancer link have been performed as of August of 1996, and the medical community is beginning to lend greater credence to the possibility of a connection between the two, despite the loud protests of pro-abortion groups.
None of these studies have shown a conclusive link between abortion and breast cancer because of the extraordinary difficulties inherent in carrying out such an investigation. These problems arise from several sources;
The abortion-breast cancer link has been suspected since about 1970, but since the methodology for the study of such a connection is only now being developed, the 50 studies mentioned above have yielded understandably varied results. Some have shown an increase in risk, some have shown no statistically significant connection, and a few have even shown a small decrease in breast cancer risk among women who have had abortions.
However, a careful review of the studies reveals that the largest and most rigorously-conducted investigations - and those performed by organizations without a vested interest in the abortion industry - imply a definite link between abortion and breast cancer.
A 1994 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute concluded that, if a woman aborts her first pregnancy, her chances of developing breast cancer before she turns 45 increase by 50 percent. Because about 10 percent of women contract breast cancer, and because about 1.6 million women have surgical abortions in the United States every year, this would mean that abortion ultimately causes about 80,000 'surplus' cases of breast cancer each year(1).
An earlier study found that if a woman aborts her first baby after the age of 30, her chances of getting breast cancer jump 110 percent. If she has an abortion before the age of 18, her risk escalates by 150 percent(2).
The results of these studies were confirmed by a 1993 survey of African-American women. Those women who abort a child at any time in their lives had a 180 percent greater risk of developing breast cancer by age 40 and a 370 percent greater risk by age 50(3).
Will the Public Learn the Truth?
Although the results of the body of studies on the abortion-breast cancer link have been inconclusive as of mid-1996, this certainly does not rule out proof of a definitive link in the future. At the very least, the medical community is acknowledging that a connection may indeed exist.
However, pro-abortionists strenuously deny that such a link is even theoretically possible, even though there is no way that their conclusion can possibly be proven at this time.
This reaction is very interesting, considering that liberals and the media immediately sound a general alarm over any suspected cancer cause, no matter how tenuous the connection may be. This has happened repeatedly with Alar, electromagnetic fields (EMFs), saccharine, cellular phones, chlorine, and asbestos, to name just a few.
Only continued neutral study by epidemiologists will ultimately prove or disprove the suspected abortion-breast cancer link.
See also Somerville Scott Esq, on our main page for an excellent paper, and also Time Magazine Nov 7 1994 ( Do Abortions cause Breast Cancer? )
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What are common physical dangers of surgical abortion?
It is interesting to note that pro-abortionists exaggerated the physical risks of illegal abortion for the purpose of political gain, and now understate and cover up the dangers of legal abortion for exactly the same reason.
Warren Hern, one of the most prolific abortionists in the United States, has admitted that
"in medical practice, there are few surgical procedures given so little attention and so underrated in its potential hazards as abortion. It is a commonly held view that complications are inevitable"(1)
Despite what Hern and other abortionists have revealed, many pro-abortion organizations - including the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARRAL) and the National Abortion Federation (NAF) - circulate glossy fact sheets purporting to show that abortion is extremely safe for the mother, both physically and mentally.
These groups do not mention that their fact sheets include only very conservative estimates of those injuries that occur during or immediately after the abortion itself in countries with modern medicine. These are commonly referred to as "on-the-table" complications. The pro-abortion "fact sheets" also ignore problems that occur after women leave abortion centers, and do not mention those due to ancillary causes such as resulting ectopic pregnancies and severe nervous system and brain damage from anesthetic misadventures.
Some of the more common physical dangers of abortion are(2)
There are two primary reasons why the rates of legal abortion injuries are always underreported.
First, abortion centers do not legally require licensing, and most states (including California, New York, Texas and Florida, which account for 40 percent of all abortions in the United States) do not require the reporting of abortion-related injuries. This allows many abortion deaths and injuries discovered after the woman leaves the abortuary to be attributed to other causes. Therefore, any rate of legal abortion morbidity and mortality in many states must necessarily be an estimate and must therefore be suspect.
Second, less than 40% of women who require post-abortion emergency care return to the abortionist, but instead go to their own gynecologist or to an emergency room when they begin to suffer delayed abortion problems such as infections(3). Aggravating this situation is the fact that only 30% to 40% of women who have had abortions return for the abortion center's follow-up examinations (even if required), thereby letting many injuries go undetected until they cause serious problems(4).
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Does PAS Exist?
Pro-abortionists often simply deny that women suffer at all as a result of abortion. For example, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) has claimed that
"[Post-abortion syndrome is a] largely non-existent phenomenon [circulated by] anti-family planning extremists ... emotional responses to legally induced abortions are largely positive(1)"
Other pro-abortionists, despite evidence to the contrary, simply insist that there are absolutely no adverse psychological impacts from abortion and claim that PAS is a myth(2).
Their allegations were buttressed in January of 1989 when then-Surgeon General C. Everett Koop reported on the psychological and physical impacts of abortion. His report, which had been ordered by the Reagan Administration, concluded that not enough data currently existed on the harmful effects of abortion to make a firm conclusion either way.
Pro-abortionists and media spokespersons immediately twisted the conclusions of the report. While the report claimed 'inconclusive' or 'insufficient' evidence on the matter of PAS, the media reported instead that the report found no evidence.
Dr. Koop was enraged by this deception and manipulation. He told an interviewer that instead of saying the Surgeon General could not find sufficient evidence to issue a scientifically statistically accurate report that could not be assailed, the Associated Press said,
"He could find no evidence.""I know there are detrimental effects [from abortion]. I have counseled women with this problem over the last fifteen years. There is no doubt about it"(3).
Many leading pro-abortionists admitted the existence of psychological trauma from abortion even before it was legalized. In 1960, Dr. Mary Calderone, the founder of the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), said that
"Aside from the fact that abortion is the taking of a life, I am mindful of what was brought out by our psychologists - that in almost every case, abortion, whether legal or illegal, is a traumatic experience that may have severe consequences later on"(4).
Thirty years later, The Journal of Social Issues confirmed this conclusion when it stated that
"There is now virtually no disagreement among researchers that some women experience negative psychological reactions postabortion"(5).
In light of this unanimity, it is grossly unethical, uncaring and typically irresponsible for pro-abortionists to blithely insist that a problem does not exist.
Stresses Caused by Abortion
In 1986, J. Lawrence Jamieson and Martin H. Stein of Dominion Hospital and Sleepy Hollow Psychiatric Center in Falls Church, Virginia, produced a fascinating scale of stress caused by various events in the lives of American women. This 'stress ladder', entitled 'The Holmes Personal Stress Scale', ranked all events that a woman might encounter.
Abortion ranked ninth on this scale, behind such events as forcible rape, suicide of a husband or lover, divorce, sexual abuse, or death of a parent, and above pregnancy, fear of nuclear war, breakup with a steady boyfriend, and rejection by a college(6).
Other surveys and studies have confirmed that abortion consistently ranks at or near the top of the scale as a life event that causes extremely high levels of emotional distress. A 1992 Gallup Poll showed that, of all events or situations that would make a person feel 'bad about himself', 67% of the women questioned and 55% of the men questioned in the age group 18 to 29 years old stated that having or being involved in an abortion tops the list(7).
More than 400 studies on the psychological effects of abortion have been performed over the last two decades. The findings of these studies have ranged from those alleging that few women suffer from abortion to those that claim that all women suffer to some extent.
A comprehensive analysis of 239 articles on the psychological effects of abortion showed that reports with a greater number of methodological flaws (such as small sample size, attrition, and invalidity) tended to produce lower percentages of women suffering from abortion, and the more rigorous studies produced higher percentages.
The ranges of psychological stress quoted by the studies varied from 6% to more than 80%(8).
There are several reasons why pinning down the exact percentages is very difficult. Most women are ashamed of their abortions and feel guilt because they believe that abortion represents a failure of some kind. Most women also basically believe abortion is wrong (nearly two-thirds of all women who obtain abortions give false phone numbers to their abortion centers). Also, more than half of all women who have had abortions conceal this fact when completing even anonymous surveys(9).
As shown above, there is a huge amount of conflicting evidence available on PAS. Therefore, although there is little doubt that many or most women suffer emotionally after abortion, very little solid evidence exists regarding the exact percentages of women who incur this harm. This is due to many factors, chiefly the reluctance of women to participate in studies of the psychological impacts of abortion, and their hesitation to give accurate answers for various reasons.
However, perhaps the figures given by PPFA can be taken as baseline, because the PPFA operates the largest chain of abortion centers in the United States and can be expected to try to protect its sources of income.
Planned Parenthood admits that 'Women can have a variety of emotions following an abortion (grief, depression, anger, guilt, relief, etc.)(1.10
Although there is disagreement on the percentages of women who suffer psychological harm from abortion, most researchers agree that certain factors increase the probability of damage. The PPFA states that about five percent of all women who abort will endure severe psychiatric disturbances, and that several categories of women are at high risk.10
These categories include;
Judging by the high-risk categories outlined above, virtually every woman who has an abortion in the United States is at risk for subsequent psychological trauma. Many (such as unmarried teenagers whose contraception failed) may fall into three or more high-risk categories.
Despite these obvious risks to women's mental health, every major pro-abortion group continues to fight any attempt to enact laws that allow women more time or information to further consider their abortion decisions, such as 24-hour waiting periods, mandatory counseling, or even informed consent provisions that outline the physical and psychological risks of abortion. This proves that these organizations are truly so pro-abortion that they do not care at all about the health of women, but only for the continued availability of abortion.
Because of the very nature of the study material, it is very difficult to prove that a precise number of women suffer a specific psychological consequence of abortion. However, even with a moderately-sized study sample, we can make reasonably accurate comparisons between groups of women who abort and groups of women who do not abort.
It is an axiom of psychotherapy that it is not healthy to 'bottle up' one's emotions.
There is no doubt that most women who have abortions feel ashamed of their decisions and believe that they must keep their secrets to themselves.9
This is not surprising in light of current attitudes in Western society. How can a woman share her mourning or negative feelings over having removed a 'blob of tissue' that is morally equivalent to (as the pro-abortionists like to say) 'fingernail clippings' or 'warts' After all, women do not mourn over having an appendix removed. When an aborted child cannot be discussed or even acknowledged, when she cannot talk to her husband or boyfriend, fellow churchgoers, pastor or co-workers about the child, when everyone tells her that she has done the 'best thing she could do at the time,' a woman who has had an abortion lives in total isolation with her feelings.
Her friends may tell her to 'buck up,' because it was only 'a little blob' that she had removed. And when a woman cannot or does not admit or acknowledge having killed her own child and feels that she does not have 'permission' to mourn, her bottled-up emotions may lead to multiple consequences later.
And so the conspiracy of silence claims another victim.
The Role of the American Psychiatric Association.
One particularly curious sequence of actions by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) inevitably comes up in any protracted discussion about PAS.
In 1987, the APA listed abortion as a psycho-social stressor in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - III-Revised (DSM-III-R). This meant that abortion can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The APA did not specifically mention PAS in its 1987 DSM-III, but many women who have had abortions met every one of the criteria listed therein for PTSD.
The APA apparently was deeply troubled by pro-lifers drawing parallels between PAS and 'traditional' PTSD, since it vocally supports every part of the abortion agenda.
Therefore, the APA took the easy way out: It purged its 1994 DSM-IV of any references to abortion, miscarriage, children, and surgery of any type. The APA even went so far as to completely redefine the categories of psychosocial stressors that cause mental trauma (i.e., problems associated with the economy, family, litigation, education, access to health care, and so on). The APA seems to have done this in order to make it more difficult to categorize abortion as a stressor.
The obvious question is this: Why did the APA consider abortion to be a psychological stressor in 1987 but not in 1994? This change was certainly not due to the findings of new medical studies on PAS, because no conclusive research was done during this period.
The only logical explanation is that the APA could not continue to endorse something that is generally admitted to cause significant psychological damage. Therefore, it took the easy way out. The APA simply removed all evidence of psychological trauma caused by abortion from its DSM-IV, thereby 'erasing' the problem from its professional consciousness.