National Academies of Science: Abortion Linked to Premature Birth Problems

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 27, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

National Academies of Science: Abortion Linked to Premature Birth Problems Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 27, 2006

Washington, DC ( — A new report from a committee of the National Academies of Science finds that a first-trimester abortion, the most common abortion procedure, is linked to an increasing risk of premature birth. The report comes from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a NAS organization.

The IOM published a report this month titled "Preterm Birth: Causes, Consequences, and Prevention."

In the report is a list of "immutable medical risk factors associated with preterm birth" and "prior first-trimester abortion" is listed third among other risk factors that increase the risk of having a subsequent premature birth.

The report has huge consequences for abortion because premature birth can lead to a host problems, including cerebral palsy for the child and breast cancer for the mother.

The IOM reported that premature births before 37 weeks gestation represent 12.5 percent of all U.S. births, a 30% increase since 1981. Abortion became legally accessible in 1973 and the number of abortions peaked in the early 1980s as it became more ingrained in society.

The IOM said premature birth cost U.S. society $26.2 billion in 2005.

This isn’t the first time a study has found that abortion increases the risk for premature birth. A 2003 article in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons finds at least sixty significant studies published since 1963 report an abortion-premature birth link.

The Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, a group that monitors the link between abortion and breast cancer for women, says the "IOM’s findings provide further support for an abortion-breast cancer link."

"If, after having had an abortion, a childless woman is unable to carry subsequent pregnancies, then she could remain childless for the remainder of her life. Cancer organizations say childlessness (nulliparity) is a risk factor for breast cancer," the group said in a statement provided to

Other research shows that a premature birth before 32 weeks gestation increases the mother’s breast cancer risk, including articles in the British Journal of Cancer and Lancet, both in 1999.

The biological reasons for this are the same as for the abortion-cancer link, the Coalition explained.

"Breast tissue is only matured from cancer-susceptible tissue into cancer resistant tissue during the last eight weeks of a full-term pregnancy. During this time, women receive protection from estrogen overexposure experienced during the first two trimesters of pregnancy," the group said.

Meanwhile, teenagers who have an abortion also have a higher premature birth risk than adults, according to several research articles, because of the higher risk of infection and weakened cervix.

The abortion-premature birth link also has legal ramifications.

The Coalition says abortion practitioners "may be sued for causing cerebral palsy, but non-abortion-performing obstetricians can use the IOM’s report to defend themselves against cerebral palsy lawsuits."

The group points to a decision by an Australian court in 2004 that Dr. Alan Kaye was not responsible for Kristy Bruce’s cerebral palsy because her mother had had an abortion shortly before she became pregnant with Kristy.

Ultimately, the group suggests that lawmakers in Congress and state legislatures pass legislation making sure that women are informed of the abortion-premature birth risk before having an abortion.

Related web sites:
IOM Report –
Coalition on Abortion-Breast Cancer –