Abortion: Questions and Answers by Jack Wilke, MD Chapter 16

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CHAPTER 16 Late Physical Complications  NB: This chapter was written before the link between abortion and breast cancer was discovered in the mid 1990's so does not include that in the physical complications - information on breast cancer can be obtained elsewhere on this website or at http://abortionbreastcancer.com/   This also does not include the body of research on post abortion syndrome, a type of "post traumatic stress" observed in 85 percent or more of aborted women.  There is information on this elsewhere on this website or go to The Elliot Institute

The Baby

Have premature births increased?

In the early years of legalized wide-open abortion, there was ample evidence of the fact that induced abortion caused a sharp increase of premature births and their unfortunate aftermaths. Some of the major original studies included:

* After one legal abortion, premature births increase by 14%; after two abortions, it is 18%, after three, it increases to 24%. Klinger, "Demographic Consequences of the Legalization of Abortion in Eastern Europe," Internat'l Jour. GYN & OB, vol. 8, Sept. 1971, p. 691

* Non-aborted women have a premature birth rate of 5%, aborted women have a rate of 14%. R. Slumsky, "Course of Delivery of Women Following Interruption of Pregnancy," Czechoslovakia Gyn., vol. 29, no. 97, 1964

* Women who have had abortions have twice the chance of delivering a premature baby later. G. Papaevangelou, U. Hospital, Athens, Greece, Jour. OB-GYN British Commonwealth, vol. 80, 1973, pp. 418-422

* In Czechoslovakia, premature births resulting from abortions are so frequent that a woman who has had several abortions and who becomes pregnant is examined, and:

"If the physicians can see scar tissue, they will sew the cervix closed in the 12th or 13th week of pregnancy. The patient stays in the hospital as long as necessary, which, in some cases, means many months." "Czechs Tighten Reins on Abortion," Medical World News, 106J, 1973

Among others, Dr. Zedowsky reported a higher percent of brain injuries at birth. His report cited "a growing number of children requiring special education because of mental deficits related to prematurity." ibid.

A very large study, by the World Health Organization, of 7,228 women in eight European countries, showed that previously-aborted women had significantly higher midtrimester pregnancy loss, premature delivery and low birth weight babies. Collaborative Study, Lancet 1979 20 Jan; 1 (8108): 142-5

Why this increase in prematurity?

During an abortion procedure, the cervical muscle must be stretched open to allow the surgeon to enter the uterus. There is no harm to the muscle in a D&C performed because of a spontaneous miscarriage, as the cervix is usually soft and often open. Also, there is rarely any damage caused by a D&C done on a woman for excessive menstruation, etc. When, however, a normal, well-rooted placenta and growing baby are scraped out of a firmly closed uterus, protected by a long, "green" cervical muscle, the task of dilating this muscle is more difficult. Attempts have been made to lessen this damage to the woman's future childbearing ability by using laminaria.

What is a laminaria?

This is a small bit of dehydrated material which is inserted into the cervix one day before the abortion. It absorbs water and swells to many times its size and, in the process, dilates the cervix. When used, it may reduce the damage to the cervical muscle that would be caused by instrumental dilatation before the abortion.

How does cervical dilatation relate to later complications?

Perhaps you've been present for, or experienced first-hand, a woman's first labor and delivery. Twelve to twenty hours is not unusual. The nurse, as she checks the mother's progress, uses the terms "two fingers" (or cm) -- "four fingers" -- then "complete." These terms refer to measuring the slow dilatation of the cervix. Only when it is wide open ("complete") can the baby begin the journey through the birth canal.

Before birth, nature opens this "door" very slowly. In a miscarriage, all those cramps do the same thing. After emptying the uterus, this strong donut-like muscle closes tight again.

The lowest part of a woman's uterus is the cervix, and, when a woman is pregnant and stands upright, the baby's head rests on it -- in effect, bouncing up and down on the "door" throughout the pregnancy. The muscle must be intact and strong in order to keep the cervix closed. If it is weak, or "incompetent," it may not stay closed and may result in premature opening and miscarriage, or premature birth.

When an abortion is performed on a women pregnant for the first time, the abortionist must dilate (or stretch open), an elongated, firm, unripe cervix. This is commonly accomplished in 30 to 60 seconds. This forceful stretching often tears enough of the muscle fibers to permanently weaken the cervix.

The most damage is done to the primiparous (first pregnancy) cervix. In Eastern Europe pro-abortion policy has slowly changed and now strongly discourages aborting the first pregnancy. In America all authorities, even the strongest pro-abortion propagandists, agree on this complication. Laminaria, incidentally, have not been used in most freestanding abortion chambers because it means two visits, smaller volume, and smaller cash flow.

There have been studies recently at several teaching hospitals that reported fewer complications than earlier studies. Some of these are seriously suspect since the grants of research money were given only to vocal and aggressive abortionists. (No comparable grants were given to pro-life researchers.)

One writer frequently heard from is Dr. Willard Cates, who published an article suggesting that the charge for abortions be on a graduated scale -- determined by measuring the size of the fetal foot. W. Cates, "For a Graduated Scale of Fees for Abortion," Family Planning Perspectives, vol. 12, no. 4, July 1980

In another paper, Cates reported that Gonorrhea was the most common sexually transmitted disease, but that the second most common "disease" transmitted sexually was pregnancy. He then compared the two as to "incidence," "incubation time," "familial predisposition," and "recurrence rate" by correlating age groups, seasonal variations, the amount of time missed from work, the type of "treatment" (abortion), complications of "treatment," the relative cost of "treatment," etc., and concluded:

"If legal abortion were viewed as a justifiable treatment for a sexually transmitted condition, it would not be considered an elective or preventive procedure which is usually ineligible for insurance programs. Rather, it would be a curative treatment, making it eligible for remuneration from federal and private third-party insurance plans." Cates et al., "Abortion as a Treatment of Unwanted Pregnancies: The Number Two Sexually Transmitted 'Disease.'" Paper presented at the 14th Annual Meeting, Planned Parenthood Physicians, Miami, Nov. 1976

Do more recent studies still report the same complications?

"The main risk of induced abortion is . . . permanent cervical incompetence." L. Iffy, "Second-Trimester Abortions," JAMA, vol. 249, no. 5, Feb. 4, 1983, p. 588

Second trimester miscarriage and premature birth frequently follow induced abortions. A. Arvay et al., "Relation of Abortion to Premature Birth," Review French GYN-OB, vol. 62, no. 81, 1967

Levin et al., JAMA, vol. 243, 1982, p. 2495

A. Jakobovits & L. Iffy, "Perinatal Implications of Therapeutic Abortion."Principals and Practice of OB & Perinatalogy, New York, J. Wiley & Sons, 1981, p. 603

C. Madore et al., "Effects of Induce Abortion on Subsequent Pregnancy Outcome," Amer. Jour. OB/GYN, vol. 139, 1981, pp. 516-521

The use of laminaria reduces, but does not eliminate, cervical incompetence. S. Harlap et al., "Spontaneous Fetal Losses After Induced Abortions," New England Jour. Med., vol. 301, 1979, pp. 677-681

"In a series of 520 patients who had previously been aborted, 8.6% had premature labor compared to 4.4% of [non-aborted] controls." G. Ratten et al., "Effect of Abortion on Maturity of Subsequent Pregnancy," Med. Jour. of Australia, June 1979, pp. 479-480

"The induced abortion group had the highest incidence of late spontaneous abortion and premature delivery." O. Kaller et al., "Late Sequelae of Induced Abortion in Primigravidae," Acta OB GYN Scandinavia, vol. 56, 1977, pp. 311-317

Do some of these premature babies die?

A study of 26,000 consecutive deliveries at UCLA was done to determine if previous abortions (and premature births) had increased the number of stillborn babies and neonatal (after birth) deaths. The findings were that the death rate "increased more than threefold." S. Funderburk et al., "Suboptimal Pregnancy Outcome with Prior Abortions and Premature Births," Amer. Jour. OB/GYN, Sept. 1, 1976, pp. 55-60

Will having an abortion affect women who marry after the abortion?

The bluntest statement yet was made by an impeccable source, Dr. Margaret Wynn, co-author of the landmark Wynn Report. Because of the physical problems and occasional sterility resultant from abortion, she stated that a young man has the right to know that a young woman has had an abortion because, "A single girl who has had one or more abortions is made less eligible for motherhood and, therefore, for marriage." Wynn & Wynn, "Some Consequences of Induced Abortion to Children Born Subsequently," British Med. Jour., Mar. 3, 1973, p. 506

Are there any comprehensive studies on premature births?

In New York State, a major prospective study was done between 1975 and 1979 which compared over 40,000 women; half of whom had an abortion and half of whom had a live birth. An analysis of the subsequent reproductive history of these women found a definite pattern of increased complications for those who had abortions (see chart below). V. Logrillo et al., "Effect of Induced Abortion on Subsequent Reproductive Function," N.Y. State Dept. of Health, Contract $no1-HD-6-2802, 1975-78
Item of comparison Study group - had an abortion Control group - live birth Higher prevailency in aborted women
Spontaneous fetal Deaths: all subsequent pregnancies 8.7% 5.3% 1.65 times more
Spontaneous fetal Deaths: First subsequent pregnancy 8.7% 4.7% 1.85 times more
Birthweight low (less than 2500 gm) - caucasian 7.0% 4.7% 1.5 times more
Birthweight low in non caucasian women 13.4% 8.4% 1.6 times more
Premature birth (less than 33 weeks) 2.3% 1.3% 1.8 times more
Labor complications and congenital malformations 13.0% 4.3% 3 times more
Newborn deaths 1.36% 0.98% 1.4 times more


CHAPTER 17 Mental Health

There is serious question whether mental health, viewed as a psychiatric illness, can ever be a reason to induce abortion.

The term "mental health," as commonly used, is synonymous with the United Nations' definition of "health," which means social, emotional, and economic well-being, as judged by the person him/herself. This is a broad, sweeping definition which soars far beyond and cannot be equated with "mental health," as medically defined.

As early as 1971, Dr. Louis Hellman, deputy assistant secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), who was strongly pro-abortion, said (at Columbia Women's Hospital, Washington, DC), that the requirement of a psychiatrist's permission for abortion was a "gross sham." Washington Post, Nov. 25, 1971

This reference was made in spite of (or because of), the fact that, of a total 14,717 hospital abortions performed in California (Nov. '67-Sept. '69), 90% were for mental health purposes. California Dept. of Public Health, Third Annual Report to California Legislature, 1970

In New York, where the law did not require such a subterfuge, only 2% of the abortions reported for 1970 were performed for "mental health" reasons. Every state or nation that has legalized abortion for "health" has abortion-on-demand.

There used to be only physical health reasons?

Yes. But prior to legalization, these reasons had all but vanished. Already in 1951, Dr. R. J. Heffernan, of Tufts University, said:

"Anyone who performs a therapeutic abortion (for physical disease) is either ignorant of modern methods of treating the complications of pregnancy, or is unwilling to take time to use them." Congress of American College of Surgeons, 1951

Aren't there any valid psychiatric reasons for abortion?

Dr. R. Sloan, who was pro-abortion, said:

"There are no unequivocal psychiatric indications for abortion." R. Sloan, New England Jour. Med., May 29, 1969

Later, Frank Ayd, M.D., medical editor and nationally known psychiatrist, said:

"True psychiatric reasons for abortion have become practically non-existent. Modern psychiatric therapy has made it possible to carry a mentally ill woman to term." F. Ayd, Medical Moral Newsletter

Are you saying that "mental illness" is usually just an excuse to have an abortion?

We are saying exactly that.

What of the woman in poor mental health? If the abortion won't help her, will it harm her?

This has been a rather well-kept secret. In an otherwise strongly pro-abortion paper, it was stated that "women with a history of psychiatric disturbance were three times as likely to have some psychiatric disturbance" after an abortion as others who had no such history. E. Greenglass, "Abortion & Psychiatric Disturbance," Canadian Psych. Assn. Jour., vol. 21, no. 7, Nov. 1976, pp. 453-459

Dr. Charles Ford and his associates at UCLA reported the same finding.

"The more serious the psychiatric diagnosis, the less beneficial was the abortion." C. Ford et al., "Abortion, Is It a Therapeutic Procedure in Psychiatry?" JAMA, vol. 218, no. 8, Nov. 22, 1971, pp. 1173-1178

"The more severely ill the psychiatric patient, the worse is her post-abortion psychiatric state." E. Sandberg, "Psychology of Abortion." In Comprehensive Handbook of Psychiatry, 3rd ed. Kaplan & Friedman Publishers, 1980

All of these support the original official statement of the World Health Organization in 1970:

"Serious mental disorders arise more often in women with previous mental problems. Thus, the very women for whom legal abortion is considered justified on psychiatric grounds are the ones who have the highest risk of post-abortion psychiatric disorders."

What of bad effects if a woman is in good mental health?

"The trauma of abortion may have significant emotional sequelae [aftermath]. . . . Few medical subjects are as fraught with strong sociological, political, cultural, and moral implications as abortion." C. Hall & S. Zisook, "Psychological Distress Following Therapeutic Abortion," The Female Patient, vol. 8, Mar. 1983, pp. 34/47-34/48

"When patients present with emotional problems, and there is a history of abortion, then the emotional sequelae of the abortion should be considered the major offending life event until proven otherwise. Patients usually never make this association because the offending conflicts are predominantly lodged in the unconscious mind." R. Maddock & R. Sexton, "The Rising Cost of Abortion," Medical Hypno-analysis, Spring 1980, pp. 62-67

But most polls show few emotional problems -- only a sense of relief!

Yes, but "What women really feel at the deepest level about abortion is very different from what they say in reply to questionnaires." A Canadian study polled a group of women who had previously completed a questionnaire in which they denied having problems from an abortion. One half of this group was randomly chosen for in-depth psychotherapy.

"What emerged from psychotherapy was in sharp contrast [to the questionnaires], even when the woman had rationally considered abortion to be inevitable, the only course of action." It was demonstrated that the conscious, rationalized decision for an abortion can coexist with profound rejection of it at the deepest level. Despite surface appearances, abortion leaves behind deeper feelings "invariably of intense pain, involving bereavement and a sense of identification with the foetus."

I. Kent et al., "Emotional Sequelae of Elective Abortion," British College of Med. Jour., vol. 20, no. 4, April 1978

I. Kent, "Abortion Has Profound Impact," Family Practice News, June 1980, p. 80

Does it ever lead to suicide?

Suicide is rare among pregnant women, but much more common after induced abortion. It is never reported under maternal mortality from abortion, of course, even though it is causative.

Rare while pregnant? I thought it was common in women who were refused abortion.

This is an oft-repeated fallacy. Suicide among pregnant women is extremely rare. Several well-controlled studies have shown this conclusively. The State of Ohio had only two maternal suicide deaths between the years 1955-1963. "Maternal Deaths Involving Suicide," Ohio State Med. Jour., Dec. 1966, p. 1294

Between 1938 and 1958, over 13,500 Swedish women were refused abortions. Only three committed suicide. J. Ottosson, "Legal Abortion in Sweden," Jour. Biosocial Sciences, vol. 3, 1971, p. 173

In Brisbane, Australia, no pregnant woman has ever committed suicide.

F. Whitlock & J. Edwards, "Pregnancy & Attempted Suicide," Comp. Psychiatry, vol. 9, no. 1, 1968

In Birmingham, England, in seven years, 119 women under 50 committed suicide. None were pregnant.
M. Sim, "Abortion & the Psychiatrist," British Med. Jour., vol. 2, 1963, p. 145

In a detailed report of the Minnesota experience from 1950-65 entitled, Criminal Abortion Deaths, Illegitimate Pregnancy Deaths, and Suicides in Pregnancy, the following facts are reported:

* There were only 14 maternal suicides in the state of Minnesota in 15 years, or one for every 93,000 live births. Four were first pregnancies. None were illegitimately pregnant.

* Ten of these women committed suicide after delivery, only four while pregnant, leading to the author's comment, "The fetus in utero must be a protective mechanism. Perhaps women are reluctant to take another life with them when they do this."

* Twelve of the 14 suicides were psychotic depressions. Two were schizophrenics. Only four had seen a psychiatrist.

* Male suicide during these years averaged 16 per 100,000 population. Non-pregnant female suicides averaged 3.5 per 100,000, and pregnant female suicides 0.6 per 100,000.

* The authors concluded that therapeutic abortion for psychiatric reasons "seems a most nebulous, non-objective, non-scientific approach to medicine. It would seem that psychiatrists would accomplish more by using the available modalities of their specialty in the treatment or rehabilitation of the patient instead of recommending the destruction of another one."

Minnesota Maternal Mortality Committee, Dept. of OB & GYN, Univ. of Minn., Amer. Jour. of OB/GYN, vol. 6, no. 1, 1967

What of post-abortion suicide?

In one report, two teenaged mothers, following induced abortion, attempted suicide on the very dates their babies would have been born.

C. Tishler, "Adolescent Suicide Attempt: Anniversary Reaction," Pediatrics, vol. 68, 1981, pp. 670-671

Post-abortion suicide is slowly growing into a rather frightening phenomenon. Suiciders Anonymous is a national fellowship patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous. It tries to help those who have attempted suicide. Suiciders Anonymous, in a 35-month period in the Cincinnati, Ohio area, reported counseling 5,620 members. These people were described as, "those suffering in-depth, deep depression, anxiety, stress, and fears they cannot overcome, those who have attempted suicide, often several times, and failed, and those who are considering taking that final desperate step." Of these 5,620 people:

* 4,000 were women

* 1,800 had abortions, of whom

* 1,400 were between 15-24 years old. M. Uchtman, Ohio Director of Suiciders Anonymous Report to the Cincinnati City Council, Sept. 1, 1981

What are the psychodynamics of post-abortion suicide?

In her report, M. Uchtman (Suiciders Anonymous), said it in a way which makes it clearly understandable:

"After years of listening to their [would-be suicides'] stories, we know there are thousands more out there being brave. By holding a tight reign on their emotions, they tuck all that unexpressed emotion and unshared experience deep down inside themselves, where it keeps growing, like a pressured tumor of pain.

"Of all the emotions they experience during the abortion crisis, none brings more pain and distress than the one they now know and identify five to ten times more than any other feelings. These women always tell us the same thing. 'Oh, my God, I am evil. I have to be evil to have done this thing. I feel so alone, so forsaken.'

"Panic and distress grips them after an abortion, because the feelings are allowed to remain shadowy, ominous, ghost-like. They are shapes dancing around the edges of their consciousness. They commonly postpone the moment of truth as long as possible. But when the subconscious throws it forward, they go through mental hell! Even at age 87, the critical moment comes when the chilling reality overwhelms them and cold reality numbs their spirit and casts them into those dark 'pits' of despair and pain!

"They fantasize that the 'cancer' will disappear. But it cannot! So feelings cannot be denied and repressed without doing violence to every other area of their living. And of all those they touch! It is vital that parents are prepared!

"Here are the two questions they always ask us:

* 'Will this pain never die?'

* 'How many years does it take to get over this pain?'

"Margaret Wold writes: 'This pain remains as a counterpoint to the rest of their lives, even though time mutes its sharpness. Women who have had abortions and made the decision on their own are too often faced with intentionally hurting others. Each woman actually does unintentionally hurt others immediately after abortion. Why? Because they are seeking forgiveness. Under any circumstances! Sad, isn't it?'

"Many women purposely keep the pain alive by never forgiving the spouse or mate after the decision. He rejects her, leaving her to live in the pits alone, in the depths and in deep depression!

"They become more and more depersonalized, superficial, and artificial. Suicide is now more desirable for them than a lifetime of false pretense and hopelessness." ibid.

Does Suiciders Anonymous support Parental Notification Laws?

Yes. "It is an act of cruelty to remove parental duties and rights during the abortion crisis." ibid.

But few teenagers want to tell their parents!

We believe the following article, written by one of your authors after the U.S. Supreme Court Decision, provides an alternative path for many of those young women Meta Uchtman described above.

Your Daughter -- Pregnant?

And under 18 years? What does she think of you, her parents? Should she tell you? Sadly, few girls want to. They think you'll explode, condemn, reject, feel ashamed. She doesn't want to hurt you. But she is alone, frightened, defiant, worried. Yes, but still a young girl who desperately needs your love and help.

The Supreme Court ruling assures her that she can have her baby killed, can internalize all of the psychic trauma, the loneliness, the bitterness, and never know that . . .

If she had told you -- Yes, you might have "exploded" initially. But then, with rare exceptions, you would have shared your tears and given her the help, support, and love she so desperately needed. To her surprise, you would not condemn, but offer all the love, help, and understanding you could in this time of trial.

In my 25 years of counseling, I have found that when a girl does come to her parents, and receives the help they can offer, it becomes the occasion of a real growth in maturity, self-confidence, and ability to love by the girl. She faces her responsibility and stands tall. The family bond is strengthened by the sharing of the burden.

But no, now the tragic Supreme Court Decision can guarantee that she'll never know that you really love her and would have [supported her and the child]