British Doctors Giving Women Bad Advice on Abortion

Opinion   |   Bill Saunders   |   Mar 2, 2011   |   1:00PM   |   London, England

According to a Fox News story published online this weekend, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is now requiring that all women considering abortion be told that most women do not suffer any psychological harm following abortion, and that “abortion is generally safer than continuing a pregnancy to term.”

This is contrary to current medical knowledge: decades of peer-reviewed medical studies demonstrate that abortion causes both psychological and physical harm—harm which cannot be considered “safer” than carrying a child to term.

Numerous peer-reviewed studies have examined the effect abortion has on the mental state of women and confirm that abortion poses drastic risks, especially for younger women. These risks include depression, anxiety, and even suicide.  One of the leading studies (led by a pro-abortion researcher) found that 42 percent of young women experience major depression after abortion. In fact, the study found that minors who aborted had an astonishing 78.6 percent chance of experiencing major depression. In teens, the chance of experiencing anxiety after abortion was 64.3 percent, and the chance of suicidal ideation was 50 percent.

This study, along with numerous others that Americans United for Life has detailed in various amicus curiae briefs available on our website, points to the fact that women need to be informed that psychological harm can follow abortion—and that purposely telling women otherwise is irresponsible.

Further, peer-reviewed medical studies demonstrate that abortion carries physical risks that are harmful to women’s health. The undisputed short-term physical risks include blood clots; incomplete abortions; infection; and injury to the cervix and other organs, which includes cervical lacerations and incompetent cervix—a condition that affects subsequent pregnancies.

In addition, women face long-term physical risks, including harmful effects on future pregnancies. For example, most women who seek abortion do so early in their reproductive lives, but plan to have a child at some point in the future. But there are currently at least 114 studies showing a statistically significant association between induced abortion and subsequent pre-term birth—the leading cause of infant mortality in our nation today.

Further, it is undisputed that a first full-term pregnancy offers a protective effect against subsequent breast cancer development. A woman who aborts her first pregnancy loses this protection. 

 Thus, not only does abortion pose an increased risk for future pregnancies, it also strips a woman of the protective effects of a first full-term pregnancy.  And while it is debated by those in the pro-abortion camp whether abortion is a direct cause of breast cancer, a study by pro-abortion researcher Dr. Janet Daling in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute sheds light on the risk to minors. In her study, every woman with a family history of breast cancer who was under the age of 18 at the time of her abortion developed breast cancer before age 45.  In other words, the risk to minors was incalculable.

Simply put, abortion is not safer than childbirth. That claim is based upon outdated information that has been repeatedly rejected in medical studies since Roe v. Wade.

Sources cited:

American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Dr. Iams (2010), available at (last visited Feb. 28, 2011).

British Doctors Told to Advise Women Abortion Safer Than Giving Birth (Feb. 27, 2011), available at (last visited Feb. 28, 2011).

J.R. Daling et al., Risk of Breast Cancer Among Young Women: Relationship of Induced Abortion, J. Nat’l Cancer Inst. 86(21):1584 (1994).

D.M. Fergusson et al., Abortion in Young Women and Subsequent Mental Health, J. Child Psychol. & Psychiat. 41(1):16 (2006).

B. Rooney & C. Calhoun, Induced Abortion and Risk of Later Premature Births, J. Am. Physicians & Surgeons 8(2):46 (2003).

J.M. Thorp et al., Long-Term Physical and Psychological Health Consequences of Induced Abortion: Review of the Evidence, Obstet. & Gynecol. Survey 58[1]:67 (2003).