Excerpted from "The state of pro-life legislation, commentary by Mailee Smith, staff counsel at Americans United for Life (aul.org), published in The Washington Times, Sep. 4, 2013 -- In 2013, life-affirming federal and state legislation designed to protect women from the harms inherent in abortion has garnered increasing attention and support from legislators and the American public — and engendered increasing fear and consternation among abortion advocates and their allies.
Abortion advocates appear particularly dismayed with recent legislative efforts to enact laws prohibiting abortion after five months of pregnancy. The reality is that a woman seeking an abortion at 20 weeks is 35 times more likely to die from abortion than she is in the first trimester. At 21 weeks or more, she is 91 times more likely to die from abortion than she is in the first trimester. Legislative efforts to limit abortion after this point directly protect maternal health, no matter how the pregnancy began. Even the liberal Huffington Post recently admitted that Americans overwhelmingly support limitations on such late-term abortions.
Yet abortion advocates oppose banning late-term abortion as well as laws requiring that women be informed of the health risks they face from abortion. The evidence of abortion’s devastating harms to women is overwhelming. Consider this partial list of the short-term and long-term physical and psychological risks associated with abortion:
- Short-term risks include blood loss, blood clots, incomplete abortion, infections such as pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical lacerations and other injuries to organs.
- Premature birth: At least 130 studies have shown an increased risk of subsequent premature birth and low birth-weight infants after abortion. The increased risk of these devastating complications is estimated to be approximately 37 percent after one abortion, 90 percent after two abortions and further increased risk for each additional abortion.
- Placenta previa is the condition during pregnancy in which the placenta covers the cervix, increasing the risks of life-threatening maternal hemorrhage, premature birth and perinatal child death. Abortion increases the risk of placenta previa in subsequent pregnancies by from 30 percent to 50 percent, and much more so for women who have had multiple abortions.
- Breast cancer: It is undisputed that a woman’s first full-term pregnancy reduces her risk of breast cancer. Numerous studies show that abortion may increase a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer. In one study funded by the National Cancer Institute, pro-choice researcher Dr. Janet Daling found that “among women who had been pregnant at least once, the risk of breast cancer in those who had experienced an induced abortion was 50 percent higher than among other women.”
- Mental health: A 2011 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry examined 22 studies conducted from 1995 to 2009 and found that women face an 81 percent increased risk of mental health problems following abortion. Women experienced increased risks for anxiety at 34 percent, for depression at 37 percent, for alcohol abuse at 110 percent and for suicide at 155 percent.
- Maternal mortality: Abortion advocates wrongly assert that abortion is safer than childbirth. Many studies show the opposite, including one that found maternal death to be three times more likely from abortion than from childbirth.
- Risks of later-term abortions: Abortion’s risks increase the further into pregnancy it is performed. Beginning at five months of pregnancy, the risk of complications from abortion rises dramatically.
Court Briefs Summary
Korte v. HHS Amicus Brief
Isaacson v. Horne Amicus Brief of AAPS et al
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