Mayo Clinic Doctor Admits Abortions Hurt Women, Cause Premature Births

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 20, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Mayo Clinic Doctor Admits Abortions Hurt Women, Cause Premature Births

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 20
, 2009

Rochester, MN ( — A physician who works for the prestigious Mayo Clinic has written a new factsheet that admits abortions harm women. Roger W. Harms, M.D., a Mayo Clinic obstetrician and medical editor-in-chief, also says abortions can cause women problems with subsequent pregnancies.

The Mayo Clinic posted Dr. Harms’ new article, with the title "Does it affect subsequent pregnancies?" on August 6.

Harm says there are definitely cases when physicians see "an abortion cause problems in a subsequent pregnancy."

"During a surgical abortion, the fetus is removed from the uterus — often with a vacuum device, a syringe or a spoon-shaped instrument with a sharp edge (curette) — as an outpatient surgical procedure," Harms explains.

In some cases, "a surgical abortion may weaken the cervix or cause scarring on the inside of the uterus."

"If such damage occurs, surgery may be needed to correct the problems before a woman can conceive again or carry a subsequent pregnancy to term," he said.

Canadian researcher Brent Rooney says the information is important for women who are considering abortions because a weak cervix can lead to premature birth in subsequent pregnancies and that can lead to problems for future unborn children, such as cerebral palsy.

"The more prematurely a baby is born, the higher his cerebral palsy risk," Rooney tells today. "Those born before 32 weeks’ gestation have 55 times the cerebral palsy risk as full-term (at least 37 weeks’ gestation) newborns."

"When the ‘gate’ (i.e. cervix) to a woman’s womb is weak (i.e. ‘incompetent cervix’), it will open too early during the pregnancy leading to a preterm birth," he explained. "Thus, when [Harms] admits that surgical abortions can weaken a women’s cervix, [he] implicitly conceded that surgical abortions boost the risk of a ‘preemie’ having cerebral palsy."

Although such a risk is rare, Rooney says it is important given that one in every 410 children born in the United States are later diagnosed with the condition.

In 2007, Rooney teamed up with Dr. Byron Calhoun and Dr. Elizabeth Shadigian and, in a study, estimated that, in 2002, there were 1,096 newborns under 32 weeks’ gestation whose cerebral palsy was caused by their mother’s prior induced abortions. [1]

Rooney says Harms’ acknowledgement of the abortion-premature birth risk is not new and that it and its effects have been known for decades.

"Is the abortion-preemie risk recently discovered? Hardly, since it was first reported in a 1963," he said. "In 2006 and 2007 the very prestigious Institute of Medicine in a massive textbook listed ‘First trimester induced abortion’ as an ‘Immutable Medical Risk Factor Associated with Preterm Birth."

Numerous studies have shown the abortion-premature birth link.

Most recently, Dr Robbert van Oppenraaij presented his findings before the collegium of scientists in June at the annual European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Amsterdam.

He says one induced abortion raises the risk of premature birth in a next pregnancy by 20 percent.

Two or more abortions raises the risk by 90 percent and doubles the risk of a very premature birth, at 34 weeks or less.

"It can be concluded that a history of abortion is associated with an increased risk for premature delivery and very premature delivery," he said.

Those numbers present a grave problem given that the repeat abortion rate in some nations, such as the United States and England — is 40 to 50 percent or more. That means millions of women and children around the globe are at risk of premature birth because of having an abortion.

1 Calhoun BC, Shadigian E, Rooney B. Cost Consequences of Induced Abortion as an Attributable Risk for Preterm Birth and Informed Consent. J Reprod Med 2007;52(10):929-937

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