Abortion has a wide range of medical complications for women and a new campaign a pro-life group is launching today is designed to inform women that abortion is linked to premature births. In fact, over 100 peer-reviewed studies have found that abortion is a risk factor for premature birth in subsequent pregnancies.
Dr. Byron Calhoun, Professor and Vice-Chair in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the West Virginia University-Charleston and a pioneer in delivering perinatal hospice care to unborn babies and their parents, cites 127 published peer-reviewed articles spanning five decades all showing an increased risk of preterm birth following an abortion.
An important Chinese study published in the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, found a history of combined surgical-medical abortion is associated with increased preterm birth risk of over 200 percent. It also finds an increased risk of over 360 percent for women who had medical abortion with curettage, 1 in 5 women in the study.
But that research has largely been drowned out in the highly contentious public debate about abortion, says Kelsey Hazzard with Secular Pro-Life.
That’s why her organization has launched a new campaign to raise public awareness. Prevent Preterm (preventpreterm.org) educates the public on three known risk factors for premature birth: tobacco use, lack of prenatal care, and prior abortion.
“We get it: abortion is, to say the least, a touchy subject,” the site proclaims. It then invites readers to educate themselves about the link between abortion and preterm birth. The highlight of Prevent Preterm is a layperson-friendly report summarizing the medical literature.
“Unfortunately, despite the strength of the research, it’s become hugely politicized,” Hazzard told LifeNews.
She cited an effort by abortion lobby groups to keep information about the abortion-preterm birth link out of the sex education curriculum in North Carolina public schools.
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Hazzard said Prevent Preterm’s educational effort is not limited to sharing studies; it also shares personal stories.
Deb had an abortion when she was 19.
“At the time, abortion had only been legal for a few years. They really had no way of knowing what the long-term effects would be,” she says. She did not learn that abortion was a risk factor for preterm birth until more than twenty years later-after her son was born eleven weeks prematurely. He survived, but has vision problems caused by his premature birth.
Hazzard says the sad irony is that women often have abortions because they’re not ready to become parents, then the abortion causes a premature birth that potentially robs another baby of his or her life and the same women who wanted to become a mother are robbed of that opportunity.
“If women have future children in mind when considering whether or not to have an abortion, knowing about the potential for premature birth is obviously crucial,” said Hazzard. “The tragic irony is that children born prematurely can face lifelong health problems that place a huge financial burden on the family-exactly the outcome the mother was trying to avoid by having an abortion.”
According to the recently published World Health Organization Global Action Report on Preterm Birth, about 15 million babies are born prematurely every year. That is more than 1 in every 10 babies born around the world. Over 1 million children die every year as a result of complications related to prematurity, and many more suffer lifetime health problems and disabilities. The costs of preterm birth, both financial and in terms of human suffering, are high and rising as preterm birth rates continue to increase in virtually all countries with reliable data.