PPL Board member authors paper for ACPeds PDF Print E-mail

plj Aug 2011 004"Induced abortion is the most common surgical procedure performed on females of child-bearing age, including adolescent women, says a new paper published by the American College of Pediatricians." Among short and long-term risks to the woman are increases in mortality from suicide and other violence, breast cancer, and substance abuse. The increased risks not only affect the woman choosing abortion but her subsequent children who also have higher risks of death due to premature birth. The paper titled, "Induced Abortion: Risks That May Impact Adolescents, Young Adults, and Their Children," recommends that doctors educate their patients on the risks of abortion by giving guidance at well-child visits during the immediate pre and adolescent years.

In the United States there were 1,058,000 abortions in 2011. An estimated 186,200 of these were on early and middle teenagers according to the statistical analysis by Dr. Patricia Lee June, primary author of the paper. In the paper's introduction she makes the point that both these abortions and the over 350,000 done on 20-24 year olds are performed at a time "prior to full brain maturation" while the decision-making portion of the brain is not fully mature. That magnifies the ethical necessity for doctors to give consideration to study of the associated risks and subsequent education of their adolescent patients.

The 18 page paper covers huge amounts of information—much too much to address here—so I will just point out a few conclusions drawn by the paper.

Maternal Mortality - Those wanting to keep abortion legal claim that legal abortion results in reduced maternal mortality rates. In fact three countries with the most restrictive abortion laws, Ireland, Poland, and Malta also have some of the lowest rates of maternal mortality. Chile is a notable case, outlawing abortion in 1989 after having legal abortion for years. Since the end of legal abortion maternal mortality actual maternal deaths have dropped from 123 in 1989 to 33 in 2003.

Suicide Risk – Multiple studies in California and Finland show a 2.5 to 7 times higher suicide rate in the years following abortion than after childbirth. A Minnesota of 3535 rural high school students found that a girl was "10 times more likely to commit suicide if she had undergone an abortion within the preceding 6 months than if she had not."

Mental health is another area of heightened risk for adolescent patients having abortions that should be of concern to pediatricians, "including substance abuse and suicide."

Long-term risks should be of concern as well as complications with mifepristone in chemical abortions which can cause "fatal sepsis and vaginal hemorrhage" and the risks inherent in surgical abortions such as "uterine perforation, cervical lacerations, and hemorrhage." Increased risk for breast cancer has been studied a great deal and despite increasing evidence remains controversial. Better studies are needed the paper reports. "Given the high prevalence of induced abortion, answering these questions ought to be a priority." Studies comparing pregnancy records with deaths in California, Finland, and Denmark indicate that a woman's risk of dying in the years following induced abortion is significantly higher than for women giving birth for at least a period of 10 years.

Risks to subsequent children following a woman's abortion include prematurity (especially that involving extremely low birth weight babies). Evidence for and against an association with placenta previa births and spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) is discussed.

There are many other reasons to read this paper (available online at https://www.acpeds.org, search "induced abortion") including consideration of fetal pain during abortion procedures and the yet-to-be-studied potential issue of impaired parenting due to a mother's mental and emotional health following abortion. As Christians we would do well to educate ourselves, especially those involved with youth leadership or Christian counseling, so that we may provide guidance to young women at risk for abortion decisions.

Related Articles:

Health Risks of Abortion, Part 1

Health Risks of Abortion, Part 2

Health Risks of Abortion, Part 3


Dr. Patricia Lee June, primary author of "Induced Abortion: Risks That May Impact Adolescents, Young Adults, and Their Children" has been a Board member of PPL since 1986. She is a member of First Presbyterian PC(USA) in Moultrie Georgia where she serves on the Missions Committee. She has been a pediatrician in South Georgia since returning from serving as a PCUSA missionary in Bangladesh from 1980-84.

The full text of the study paper can be found at https://www.acpeds.org by entering 'induced abortion' into the search bar.

 

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