In 2013, life-affirming federal and state legislation designed to protect women from the harms inherent in abortion has garnered increasing attention and support from legislators and the American public — and engendered increasing fear and consternation among abortion advocates and their allies.
This year, 48 states have considered approximately 360 measures related to abortion, most of which sought to protect women and their unborn children from a predatory abortion industry which, as the Kermit Gosnell case aptly demonstrates, places concerns for profit over women’s health and safety. Of those, 69 provisions were enacted. This continued a trend begun in 2011 when 70 life-affirming measures were enacted, and 2012, when 38 such measures were passed — a large number for an election year.
Clearly, this life-affirming trend has staying power, and Big Abortion is terrified.
The successful passage of common-sense, protective legislation demonstrates that elected officials have their pulse on the will of the people — not the abortion lobby. The more abortion advocates lose in the legislatures and in public opinion, the more outrageous their claims become.
For example, rather than focus on the protective effect pro-life legislation has on women’s health, abortion advocates wrongfully accuse pro-life legislators of ignoring the needs of women facing pregnancies conceived through rape. Sadly, the abortion lobby works for abortion with no regulations or limitations and without regard to its impact on the women who suffer them.
Abortion advocates appear particularly dismayed with recent legislative efforts to enact laws prohibiting abortion after five months of pregnancy. The reality is that a woman seeking an abortion at 20 weeks is 35 times more likely to die from abortion than she is in the first trimester. At 21 weeks or more, she is 91 times more likely to die from abortion than she is in the first trimester. Legislative efforts to limit abortion after this point directly protects maternal health, no matter how the pregnancy began. Even the liberal Huffington Post recently admitted that Americans overwhelmingly support limitations on such late-term abortions.
Yet abortion advocates oppose banning late-term abortion as well as laws requiring that women be informed of the health risks they face from abortion.
Another example is legislation requiring that physicians perform an ultrasound test prior to abortion. Ultrasounds serve an important medical purpose in determining the gestational age and location of the pregnancy — knowledge that is absolutely necessary before a physician can perform an abortion. In fact, the use of ultrasound is acknowledged by many as the “gold standard” for abortion care. Ultrasounds diagnose ectopic pregnancies which, if left undiagnosed, can result in infertility or even fatal blood loss. However, abortion advocates oppose lifesaving ultrasound requirements, going so far as to label ultrasound use as “rape.” Rape is, after all, their go-to political straw man of choice.
Because of the health risks to women from abortion, Americans United for Life has launched the Women’s Protection Project to recommend specific legislation to address these growing concerns.
The evidence of abortion’s devastating harms to women is overwhelming. Consider this partial list of the short-term and long-term physical and psychological risks associated with abortion:
• Short-term risks include blood loss, blood clots, incomplete abortion, infections such as pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical lacerations and other injuries to organs.
• Premature birth: At least 130 studies have shown an increased risk of subsequent premature birth and low birth-weight infants after abortion. The increased risk of these devastating complications is estimated to be approximately 37 percent after one abortion, 90 percent after two abortions, and further increased risk for each additional abortion.
• Placenta previa is the condition during pregnancy in which the placenta covers the cervix, increasing the risks of life-threatening maternal hemorrhage, premature birth and perinatal child death. Abortion increases the risk of placenta previa in subsequent pregnancies by from 30 percent to 50 percent, and much more so for women who have had multiple abortions.
• Breast cancer: It is undisputed that a woman’s first full-term pregnancy reduces her risk of breast cancer. Numerous studies show that abortion may increase a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer. In one study funded by the National Cancer Institute, pro-choice researcher Dr. Janet Daling found that “among women who had been pregnant at least once, the risk of breast cancer in those who had experienced an induced abortion was 50 percent higher than among other women.”
• Mental health: A 2011 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry examined 22 studies conducted from 1995 to 2009 and found that women face an 81 percent increased risk of mental health problems following abortion. Women experienced increased risks for anxiety at 34 percent, for depression at 37 percent, for alcohol abuse at 110 percent, and for suicide at 155 percent.
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• Maternal mortality: Abortion advocates wrongly assert that abortion is safer than childbirth. Many studies show the opposite, including one that found maternal death to be three times more likely from abortion than from childbirth.
• Risks of later-term abortions: Abortion’s risks increase the further into pregnancy it is performed. Beginning at five months of pregnancy, the risk of complications from abortion rises dramatically.
Abortion advocates cannot counter this growing medical data. Instead, they resort to outrageous arguments camouflaging the fact that they are ignoring the health risks of abortion to pregnant women, who deserve our protection.