Safe or Unsafe
ABORTION AS A PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE
In 1973, the United States Supreme Court struck down every federal, state, and local law regulating or restricting the practice of abortion. This action was based on the premise that the states no longer had any need to regulate abortion because the advances of modern medicine had now made abortion "relatively safe." Therefore, the Justices concluded, it is unconstitutional to prevent physicians from providing abortions as a "health" service to women. National abortion policy is built upon this judicial "fact" that abortion is a "safe" procedure. If this "fact" is found to be false, then national policy toward abortion must be re-evaluated. Indeed, if it is found that abortion may actually be dangerous to health of women, there is just cause for governments to regulate or prohibit abortion in order to protect their citizens. This is especially true since over 1.5 million women undergo abortions each year. Since the Court's ruling in 1973, there have been many studies into the aftereffects of abortion. Their combined results paint a haunting picture of physical and psychological damage among millions of women who have undergone abortions.
THE PHYSICAL COMPLICATIONS OF ABORTION
National statistics on abortion show that 10% of women undergoing induced abortion suffer from immediate complications, of which one-fifth (20%) were considered major. Over one hundred potential complications have been associated with induced abortion. "Minor" complications include: minor infections, bleeding, fevers, chronic abdominal pain, gastro-intestinal disturbances, vomiting, and Rh sensitization. The nine most common "major" complications are infection, excessive bleeding, embolism, ripping or perforation of the uterus, anesthesia complications, convulsions, hemorrhage, cervical injury, and endotoxic shock. In a series of 1,182 abortions which occurred under closely regulated hospital conditions, 27 percent of the patients acquired post-abortion infection lasting 3 days or longer. While the immediate complications of abortion are usually treatable, these complications frequently lead to long-term reproductive damage of much more serious nature. For example, one possible outcome of abortion related infections is sterility. Researchers have reported that 3 to 5 percent of aborted women are left inadvertently sterile as a result of the operation's latent morbidity. The risk of sterility is even greater for women who are infected with a venereal disease at the time of the abortion. In addition to the risk of sterility, women who acquire post-abortal infections are five to eight times more likely to experience ectopic pregnancies. Between 1970-1983, the rate of ectopic pregnancies in USA has risen 4 fold. Twelve percent of all maternal deaths due to ectopic pregnancy. Other countries which have legalized abortion have seen the same dramatic increase in entopic pregnancies. Cervical damage is another leading cause of long term complications following abortion. Normally the cervix is rigid and tightly closed. In order to perform an abortion, the cervix must be stretched open with a great deal of force. During this forced dilation there is almost always caused microscopic tearing of the cervix muscles and occasionally severe ripping of the uterine wall, as well. According to one hospital study, 12.5% of first trimester abortions required stitching for cervical lacerations. Such attention to detail is not normally provided at an outpatient abortion clinic. Another study found that lacerations occurred in 22 percent of aborted women. Women under 17 have been found to face twice the normal risk of suffering cervical damage due to the fact that their cervixes are still "green" and developing. Whether microscopic or macroscopic in nature, the cervical damage which results during abortion frequently results in a permanent weakening of the cervix. This weakening may result in an...