The Truth Is: Abortion Hurts Women
We know that the culture of abortion in America is built on lies. One of the cruelest and most damaging of these is that "abortion is safer than childbirth." This is one of the basic claims and assumptions of the abortion culture, so any evidence that abortion harms women must be suppressed by abortion supporters.
It is clear from polling data that many Americans are uncomfortable with the idea of abortion, yet feel they must accept it because they believe it to be necessary for the health and well-being of women. If pro-lifers could show this ambivalent group of Americans that abortion, in addition to killing babies, also damages women, we would go a long way toward exposing the lies of the abortion culture and undermining the position of those who consider themselves to be "pro-choice."
We now have a new resource to help us meet this end. Women's Health After Abortion--The Medical and Psychological Evidence, written by Elizabeth Ring-Cassidy and Ian Gentles, is an excellent summary of the literature on the negative effects of abortion on women. It was published in Canada by the deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research and is now available from the National Right to Life Education Department (see page 13).
This book reviews research, but is written for laypeople. It is an important book for pro-lifers, who need to be able to use scientific evidence in making the case for the truth about abortion's effects. The most difficult problem for us in this debate is that our opponents have effectively propagated the notion that abortion is not harmful for women. So the false claim that research demonstrates that abortion is not harmful is believed as a matter of course. And, in fact, some methodologically flawed research is available to be cited by abortion supporters.
Pro-lifers need to be prepared to counter these false arguments. The book by Ring-Cassidy and Gentles provides assistance with an excellent chapter discussing some of the methodological problems of the research in this field. There are three basic problems with the research. The first is that many of the earlier studies observed women while they were still in the clinic following their abortions. This can hardly yield a comprehensive picture of the long-term effect that the abortion will have on the woman's life, her personal relationships, later health and family life, etc. Yet, such long-term effects can hardly be left out of a serious investigation into the effects that abortion has on a woman.
A second problem occurs with many of the research studies on the psychological effects of abortion involving the type of psychological test used in the collecting of research information. Many of the studies relied on asking the subjects how they had been feeling since having the abortion. This is tantamount to asking the subjects to psychoanalyze themselves. Most of us have a great deal of difficulty evaluating our reactions to traumatizing events in our lives. These studies claim that most women after an abortion simply report feeling relieved that the "problem" has been eliminated. However, this tells us nothing about the actual impact it is having on the woman's psyche.
A third problem with research on the after-effects of abortion on women is that the authors frequently misrepresent their findings by drawing conclusions that simply don't match the actual results of the studies. For example, it is possible to find studies that collect a great deal of information from the women about feeling guilty, sad, and angry with themselves following the abortion--and yet conclude with the vague statement that women don't appear to have any major problems and the ones they have are mild and transitory. However, such researchers never explain how they came to judge these effects as mild and transitory. They simply assert their belief. This problem also occurs in research on the physical after-effects of abortion. Professor Joel Brind has reported on this problem in these pages in conjunction with the abortion-breast cancer connection.
What Women's Health After Abortion does to help in this debate is to demonstrate the problems in the research and then go on to review the extensive literature comprised of effective research demonstrating the negative effects of abortion. The literature is drawn from foreign as well as American researchers. The evidence is especially powerful given that it is drawn from so many diverse cultures, including some with value systems very different from our own.
It is important for the layperson trying to use research findings to recognize that there may be an overall pattern in the findings even if results vary from study to study. Joel Brind, for example, has shown that the majority of studies reveal a connection between abortion and subsequent breast cancer. The case for the connection is very strong, even though there are a handful of studies that find no connection.
This book does an excellent job of revealing patterns of findings that indicate that there is a very dangerous long-term effect of abortion on women: Psychological problems, including suicide, afflict many women after an abortion. The risk of cancer appears to increase in women who have had abortions. This is not only true of breast cancer but virtually every cancer associated with women's reproductive organs. And there is also good evidence that abortion puts a woman's future fertility at serious risk.
The determined effort of the pro-abortion lobby to cover up the harmful long-term effects of abortion on women and lie about them is truly cruel. It leaves women unprotected and vulnerable to health risks. Further it prevents them from being able to make a truly informed decision, thus eliminating the opportunity for true choice. But that is the cruelest lie of all: the lie that legal abortion is about choice. In fact, it is about limiting women's true choices by eliminating the truth. Without the truth a woman considering an abortion is not only in danger physically and emotionally but also spiritually. We must spread the truth, and the book Women's Health After Abortion can help us do that.