Sanctity of Life

Guide to the Issues:

Women's Right to Know

     [Receiving informed consent from a patient is standard medical practice in all circumstances except abortion. “Woman’s Right to Know” is a phrase used to describe legislation that requires that a woman give her informed consent before having an abortion.  These bills generally incorporate two components: 1) requiring that specific information be provided to the woman before she undergoes an abortion and 2) a 24-hour reflection period allowing the woman to consider the information provided to her.  The U.S. Supreme Court (1992 Planned Parenthood vs. Casey) has upheld such laws as constitutional.

     Such legislation requires that the information provided be objective, nonjudgmental, accurate and comprehensive.  The State Department of Health (or equivalent) is charged with developing material to provide much of this required information.”  Family.org. Family Policy Alliance, January 2000

Abortion Risks and Complications

The 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalized abortion-on-demand nationwide.  Two and a half decades later, many medical researchers are beginning to investigate the outbreak of serious medical conditions in women who previously had abortions.  Evidence of complications and increased incidents of breast cancer continues to mount.

Infection:  The Fallopian tube is a part of a fragile organ; if infection injures it, it often seals shut.  The typical infection involving these organs is pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).  “A first-trimester abortion can result in bacterial vaginosis, leading to PID, a condition that must be treated quickly” (American Journal of OB/GYN 1992; 166: 100-103).

Complications in future pregnancies:  One in four abortion patients (24.3%) experience complications in future pregnancies including excessive bleeding, premature delivery, cervical damage and sterility (Acta/Obstetrics and Gynecology Scandinavia 1979; 58: 491-4).

Infertility:  In a 1987-88 controlled case study of women in Athens, Greece; the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Athens found that the occurrence of either induced abortions or miscarriages significantly increased the risk of subsequent secondary infertility.  Secondary infertility was defined as (1) patient had a previous conception; (2) patient was married; (3) husband had a normal semen analysis and (4) patient had been trying to become pregnant for at least 18 months (Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 47:36, 1993).

Miscarriages:  A high incidence of cervical damage from the abortion procedure has raised the incidence of miscarriage among women who have had abortions to 30 – 40 percent.  (Hilgers et al., “Fertility Problems Following an Aborted First Pregnancy.”  New Perspectives on Human Abortions, University Publications of America, 1981).  Women who had two or more prior induced abortions had a twofold to threefold increase in first-trimester miscarriages, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  The study compared prior pregnancy histories of two groups of women, one having a pregnancy loss up to 28 weeks gestation and the other having full term delivery (JAMA, 243: 2495, 1980).

Ectopic (tubal) pregnancies:  Abortion appears to contribute to an increase in ectopic pregnancies in younger women when associated with PID.  Statistics show a 30 percent increased risk of ectopic pregnancy after one abortion and a 160 percent increased risk after two or more abortions (American Journal of OB/GYN 1989; 160:642-646) (American Journal of Public Health 1982; 72:253-256).

ABC- The Abortion Breast Cancer Link

          Recent studies have pointed out a dramatic relationship between the rate of abortion and the rate of breast cancer, which has risen by 50% since 1973.

           Dr. Janet Daling, a cancer researcher at the Ford Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at the University of Washington, published an article in the November 2, 1994 edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (pp. 1584-1592) concerning induced abortion and breast cancer risk for pre-menopausal women.  Some key findings were:

  • Women under the age of 18 who had an induced abortion have an increased breast cancer risk of 150 percent.
  • Women of age 30 and above who aborted a first pregnancy increase their breast cancer risk by 110 percent.
  • Women with a family history of breast cancer who aborted their first pregnancy after age 30 increase their breast cancer risk by 270 percent.
  • Overall, women who have an induced abortion have an increased breast cancer risk of 50 percent.
  • Twelve of 13 U.S. studies indicate a significant link between abortion and breast cancer.

 The December 1993 issue of the Journal of the National Medical Association, a journal examining health issues related to the black community, published “Breast Cancer Risk Factors in African-American Women:  The Howard University Tumor Registry Experience,” which confirmed that the risks of breast cancer increased much more for women who had aborted than for those who had not.  The study found the same overall 50 percent increased risk factor for women under 40 who had aborted, similar to the study conducted by Dr. Daling.  Black women in their 40’s who had aborted experienced an 80 percent increased risk. And for black women over 50 who had aborted, the risk increased an astounding 370 percent.  Twenty-six of 32 U.S. worldwide studies also confirm the ABC link.

An Unregulated Industry

The Roe v. Wade decision was supposed to put an end to women being maimed or killed from unsafe abortions.  But the political nature of the abortion question has allowed the multi-billion dollar abortion industry to fight off attempts by state health regulators to apply industry-standard regulations to their businesses.  It is difficult to estimate the number of women injured or killed during abortion procedures, as officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned in a paper published in the American Journal of OB/GYN in November 1994.  They cited a “growing concern” that abortion doctors are falsifying data on death certificates in an attempt to dodge lawsuits stemming from botched abortion procedures.  Recent media reports chronicle many disturbing incidents of deaths from “safe and legal” abortion:

On April 17, 1998, 33-year-old Lou Ann Herron bled to death in the recovery room of the A-Z Women’s Center in Phoenix, Arizona after an abortion procedure.  Staff members at the abortion clinic realized that she was losing a lot of blood, but the physician who performed the abortion (Dr. John Biskind, 72 at the time) and the clinic administrator refused to call 911 until it was too late (Arizona Republic, Dec. 15, 1998).

On Feb. 5, 1996, Carolina Gutierrez, mother of two, died seven weeks after fighting a “raging infection” that started with a botched abortion at the Maher Medical Center in Little Havana, Miami.  She underwent the abortion on December 19th.  On the 21st she went to Jackson Memorial Hospital “barely able to breathe.”  A doctor said her uterus was perforated “at least twice” and she had a “blood infection so severe that she was in septic shock.”  Despite doctors’ efforts, gangrene set in and “her fingers and feet turned black.”  Doctors amputated both legs “just below the knees” to contain the infection.  However, complications and the infection continued, leading to her death (Miami Herald, Feb. 6, 1996).

State medical investigators in California had received numerous complaints about a Santa Ana abortion clinic run by Alicia Hanna, including reports that she was rinsing and reusing disposable plastic syringes, employing unqualified staff, and had bungled several abortions.  Even so, the decision to investigate was still pending when Hanna was arrested in 1993 for murder in the abortion death of clinic patient Angela Sanchez.  Hanna, who performed abortions despite having no medical training, was caught loading Sanchez’s body into the trunk of her car, reportedly planning to dump it in Tijuana, Mexico.  She was sentenced to sixteen years-to-life in prison.

In Alabama an 18-year-old college freshman named Michelle Madden died from a botched abortion in 1991.  Three days after undergoing an abortion procedure at the Family Planning Medical Center in Mobile, Michelle collapsed as a result of a raging blood infection and was rushed to the hospital.  Examination at the hospital revealed that a leg bone, two pieces of the baby’s skull, and some of the placenta had remained in the uterus, causing the infection.  Three days after her admission to the hospital, Michelle died.

Other tragedies include:  Michelle Jordan, who died after being declared brain-dead from complications arising during a procedure of removing Norplant “sticks” under general anesthesia at Birmingham abortion doctor Thomas Tucker’s Southside office (Birmingham News, 6/29/94).

Conclusion

            Some legislators are increasingly frustrated in their attempts to regulate abortion procedures.  As pro-choice Maryland State Senator Mary Boerger stated on CBS News’ 60 Minutes program, “When we say that what we’re trying to do is guarantee safe abortions and eliminate back-alley, unsafe abortions, and yet you can demonstrate that there’s a woman who’s died and another woman who’s paralyzed [from legal abortion], then not only that argument but all arguments from the pro-choice community can become suspect” (Volume XXIII, #32, April 21, 1991).

          Twenty-nine states provide women printed information prior to their abortion decision that details the risks and alternatives to an abortion. 

Compiled by the Alabama Policy Institute.  For more information, see National Right to Life at http://www.nrlc.org or call (202) 626-8800.  Also see “Lime 5: Exploited by Choice,” by Mark Crutcher, available from Life Dynamics, http://www.ldi.org, (817) 380-0880.

Prepared by Cornerstone Family Council, a non-profit, non-partisan research and education organization.  Nothing contained herein should be construed as an effort to aid or hinder any legislation.