In the most recent presidential debate, Hillary Clinton claimed late-term abortions are sometimes necessary to save women’s lives. That’s great rhetoric, but it is not supported by even a single medical study.
Before examining the “abortion to save women’s lives” question, it is first important to note that only about 1.2 percent of abortions (about 15,000 per year) take place after 20 weeks of gestation. Of these, a good portion are due to partner abandonment or parental pressure.
Another chunk are due to an adverse diagnosis of fetal development or simply fear of a fetal defect after exposure to some drug, for example. So only a small percentage of late-term abortions are done with the sole intent of saving the mother from a dying from complications with pregnancy.
But even that small number of “lifesaving” abortions is questionable, because the best medical evidence reveals that of the few women who die of disease while pregnant it appears there’s not even one cause of death abortion can prevent (see “Therapeutic Abortion: The Medical Argument,” in the Irish Medical Journal).
Abortion Is Never a Lifesaving Procedure
Here’s a quick example. Abortion is often recommended for pregnant women who are diagnosed with cancer. But there is zero evidence that those who have abortions are more likely to beat cancer or survive compared to those who refuse abortion. Similarly, the researchers found, there was not a single death among the women who died that an induced abortion could have predicted or prevented.
Now, skeptics may rightly wonder if they should trust my reliance on a single study. In response, I’ll note this study has been around for more than 20 years and no one advocating an abortion has published a study to dispute these findings—despite the abortion industry’s access to hundreds of millions of abortion records worldwide. If they had data to support the myth that abortion saves lives, they would have published it. Absent any evidence, they simply ignore contrary evidence and continue to appeal to the “common sense” myth that abortion is necessary, at least in some hard cases, to save women’s lives.
The lack of medical evidence for any benefit from abortion (in saving women’s lives) is further magnified by the fact that record linkage studies have proven that abortion is associated with a decline in overall health and increase in short- and longer-term mortality rates among women exposed to abortion. There is even a dose effect, with the negative effects on longevity multiplied with each exposure to abortion.
So not only does abortion fail to reduce mortality rates among women, it actually contributes to higher mortality rates (most notably in a three-fold increased risk of suicide compared to women not pregnant and a six-fold increased risk compared to those who carry to term), but also due to other negative impacts on women’s health.
Doctors Want Abortion to Save Themselves Trouble
The real reason doctors recommend abortion for pregnant women facing a disease is that abortion makes it easier for the doctor to focus on just her disease. Abortion instantly reduces the number of patients doctors have to worry about by half.
After an abortion, doctors no longer have to avoid treatments that may hurt the baby. Plus, they no longer have to worry about lawsuits in the unlikely event the baby will be born with any birth defects, which may or may not be associated with the doctors’ treatment decisions. In short, many, if not most, “therapeutic” abortions are of more benefit to the doctor’s interests than the woman’s interests.
It is also very clear in the medical literature that women who undergo a “therapeutic” abortion experience the highest rates of depression, grief, guilt, divorces, and other psychological problems. The negative psychological effects of late-term pregnancy are undisputed, even by pro-abortion experts. It’s doubtful parents considering a late-term abortion are informed of this, however, especially when there is any indication of fetal anomaly.
In these cases, those advising abortion are often operating from a eugenic mindset. They are ideologically biased to encourage abortion of the “unfit” and to exaggerate the negatives of carrying to term while underestimating the psychological, physical, familial, and spiritual costs of inducing an abortion.
As can be easily imagined, the psychological costs for women (and their families) who originally intended to carry to term are magnified by the fact that they were originally excited about having a child, have been bonding with their babies for many months, and only after this bonding have felt “obligated” to abort for therapeutic reasons.
Here’s the bottom line: even if a doctor is convinced abortion is necessary to save a woman’s life, he or she should disclose to the patient and her family that a “therapeutic” abortion poses its own risks to her future physical and mental health. The doctor should also admit that the recommendation to abort can only be justified by appeals to the “art of medicine,” not any actual statistically validated studies.