Abortion

AbortionMAKING A “CHOICE” BASED ON ALL THE FACTS

People who support abortion are called Pro-Choice.  But what woman ever wants to “choose” abortion in her life?

All too often, that choice is made without all the information.  Or that “choice” really isn’t a choice at all – that a woman felt pressured by family, circumstances, or even a doctor to go through with an abortion.

Finally, that “choice” often leads to years of side effects which range from emotional, to psychological and even physiological. [See Research re Risks]  The biggest complaint by women is that they weren’t offered access to all the information and/ or felt pressured at the time of making their decision.

RIGHT TO LIFE NSW offers a perspective on abortion that considers the rights of all persons involved in the issue – the children, the man (or Father,) the baby, the extended families, even those of healthcare professionals – but most importantly, the woman (or Mother.)  We believe that when armed with all the information, a woman can avoid making that choice, that in the end she never intended or wanted to ever make in her life.

FIGURES

THE FIGURES

  1. There are an estimated 80,000 – 90,000 abortions every year in Australia [2]
  2. This equates to approximately 250 abortions per day [3]
  3. This equates to one abortion for every 2.8 live births [4]
  4. 1 in 3 Australian women will have an abortion in their lifetime[5]
  5. In NWS, there are approximately 25,000 – 30,000 abortions every year. [6]

LAW

THE LAW

There is no national law regarding abortion in Australia.  Rather, it’s handled at a state level, with the grounds on which abortion is permitted varying from state to state.

In every state, abortion is legal ONLY to “protect the life and health of the woman,” although each state has a different definition.

In reality, though, the phrase “protect the life and health of the woman” has come to mean “on request of the woman” so that abortion is currently available “on demand” throughout the Commonwealth of Australia.

Additionally, there is no law anywhere in Australia that requires the notification or consent of a woman’s partner.

There is no enforced waiting period for an abortion and except in Western Australia, a minor does not require parental consent or notification for an abortion.

In New South Wales, abortion law is primarily based upon a 1971 ruling by Judge Aaron Levine which declared abortion to be legal if a doctor found ‘any economic, social or medical ground or reason’ that an abortion was required to avoid a ‘serious danger to the pregnant woman’s life or to her physical or mental health’ at any point during pregnancy.

This was expanded by the Kirby ruling of 1994, which extended the period during which health concerns might be considered from the duration of pregnancy to any period during the woman’s life.

In practice, this has been taken as a license for abortion-on-demand.  The consequences to the woman’s health of having an abortion do not seem to have weighed into the equation.

Even so, abortion-rights advocates want to take it even further, and completely decriminalise abortion in New South Wales.

In addition, legislative efforts to recognise the unborn have stalled in the NSW Parliament.  A law that would recognise a 20-week-old foetus as a “person” passed the NSW lower house last November.  But that bill has stalled in the upper house, where it has yet to be introduced.  It’s called “Zoe’s Law,” and is named after Brodie Donegan’s unborn daughter, Zoe, who was killed when a drug-affected driver hit Brodie’s car in 2009.  She was eight months pregnant with Zoe.  The bill would recognise a crime of grievous bodily harm against an unborn child for the first time.

SCIENCE

THE SCIENCE

WHEN DOES LIFE BEGIN?

The question of when human life begins is an important one in determining when (if ever) abortion is an ethical ‘choice’.

While some belief-systems and individuals maintain that meaningful human life truly begins after birth, it is widely accepted among the medical and scientific community that:

(a) biologically, human life begins at conception; and

(b) a foetus beyond 24 to 26 weeks is sentient (self-aware).  For this reason, in most places, legal abortions following 24 weeks of gestation are only performed in case of medical emergency.

Development Stages

IMPACT

WHAT’S THE IMPACT OF ABORTION ON WOMEN?

  1. Abortion is linked to increased rates of depression, drug and alcohol abuse.
    1. An Australian study [7] which followed over 1200 women from ages 14 to 21 found:
      1. Among women with no pre-existing depression or substance abuse, those who had abortions had more than double the rate of alcohol abuse and 3.6 times the rate of illicit drug use compared to those who gave birth.
      2. Women who show signs of distress at the time of their abortion are at significantly more risk of long term depression. [8]
    2. A New Zealand study [9] which followed over 500 women from ages 15 to 30 found:
      1. Women who had abortions had a 30% increased rate of mental disorders including depression, anxiety and substance abuse. In most cases, these women had no problems before their abortion.
    3. Abortion increases the risk of premature births with future pregnancies.
      1. A German study [10] which examined over 2.2 million pregnancies found:
        1. Women who had 1 abortion had a 30% increased rate of very premature birth (before 32 weeks)
        2. Women who had 2 or more abortions had a 90% increased rate of very premature birth.
      2. Abortion clinics often fail to assess whether a patient is being pressured by others or to allow enough time for the woman to make up her own mind:
        1. A study of American women [11} found:
          1. 64% felt pressured to have the abortion
          2. 80% did not receive adequate counselling
  • More than half felt rushed or uncertain when agreeing to the abortion procedure.

FOR WOMEN

THE FACTS FOR WOMEN:

There is a growing body of international research as well as an enormous amount of anecdotal evidence that suggest abortion has a long-lasting negative effect on women.

  1. Emotional Risks Associated with Abortion
    1. Abortion results in short-term relief for most women, usually accompanied by negative emotions. Such relief tends to be fleeting.
    2. 10 to 20 per cent of women suffer from severe, negative psychological complications after abortion, despite the frequent presence of relief soon after the abortion.
    3. Many more women experience emotional distress immediately after the abortion and in the months following. Negative emotions include sadness, loneliness, shame, guilt, grief, doubt and regret.
    4. Depression and anxiety are experienced by substantial numbers of women after abortion.
    5. For a small proportion of women, abortion triggers post-traumatic stress disorder.
    6. After abortion, women have an increased risk of psychiatric problems including bipolar disorder, neurotic depression, depressive psychosis and schizophrenia.
    7. Increased risk of substance abuse and self-harm. This is particularly true during a subsequent pregnancy. [1]
  1. Physical Risks Associated with Abortion: 
    1. Research has established that abortion is associated with a variety of significant physical risks, including premature delivery, infection (which may lead to infertility, particularly in the presence of genital infection), uterine perforation, and miscarriage and low birth weight in future pregnancies.
    2. There appear to be more deaths from all causes, including suicide and homicide, after abortion compared with childbirth.
    3. A first pregnancy carried to full term provides a degree of protection against breast cancer. Many studies have identified an increased risk of breast cancer associated with the early abortion of a first pregnancy. Other studies have shown no risk.
  1. What You’re NOT Being Told:
    1. Many women cite their abortion provider did not present them with the range of physical and emotional risks associated with abortion.
    2. Many women say their abortion provider was unprepared to provide support or counselling regarding concerns post-abortion.
    3. Many women say they weren’t told how developed their unborn baby was, and had they been able to understand that the foetus they were carrying was, in fact, a baby (for example, via ultrasound) they might have made an alternative decision to abortion.

FOR MEN, FAMILIES & DRs

THE FACTS FOR MEN, FAMILIES AND DOCTORS: 

  • FOR MEN: While less common and usually less intense as a woman, some men can feel a sense of guilt and sadness at the decision to abort, even though they might have been supportive at the time – and especially if they wanted their child to be born. Many men regret the opportunity of fatherhood lost. Later in life, they find themselves wondering about the child that might have been, had there been a different choice. Many feel significantly disempowered in the process. [See Paternal Rights Page]
  • FOR FAMILIES: Family relationships and stability can be compromised as a result of an abortion. Family secrets can often break families up (both immediate and extended) even if they go unmentioned.
  • FOR CHILDREN: Children who are born of mothers who have aborted their siblings may experience the effects of her displaced grief. If they’re born after another child has been aborted, they might be treated (unwittingly by their mother) as a ‘replacement child.’
  • FOR THE UNBORN BABIES: They are the most vulnerable of all in this entire equation, with no voice in their own survival.  While society debates when life actually begins, science has shown from the moment of conception that the unborn baby’s identity is established – whether it’s a boy or a girl, the colour of the eyes and hair, the dimples of the cheeks and the cleft of the chin.  The information about who that unborn baby will become is already in place.
  • FOR DOCTORS:  Every doctor would prefer to save a life than to take one.  However, further to that, the situation in certain states has become even more serious as doctors face deregistration if they refuse to refer for abortion. (See Victorian Law)

http://www.healthcareworkersrights.com.au 

 [1] Selena Ewing, Women & Abortion: An Evidence Based Review (Women’s Forum Australia, 2005), 2.

[2] Department of Health and Ageing, answer to Senate Question Number 325 asked on notice on 31 January 2005 by Senator Boswell

[3] ChanA, Sage LC. Estimating Australia’s Abortion Rates 1985-2003. MJA 20005; 182 (9): 447-452

[4] There were 251,000 registered births in 2003. Australian Bureau of Statistics 3301.0 “Births, Australia’ released 25/11/2004. www.abs.gov.au

[5] ‘Pregnancy Outcome in South Australia 2002’ Department of Human Services, Government of South Australia, November 2003. South Australia collects the most comprehensive data on abortion rates

[6] Historical Abortion Statistics, New South Wales, compiled by Wm. Robert Johnston http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/australia/ab-aust-nsw.html

[7] ”Pregnancy Loss and Psychiatric Disorders in Young Women: an Australian birth cohort study”, Dingle K, Alati R, Clavarino A, Najman JM, Williams GM, British Journal of Psychiatry (2008) 193:455-460 http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/full/193/6/455

[8]  ”Reactions to Abortion and Subsequent Mental Health”, Fergusson DM, Horwood LJ, Boden JM, British Journal of Psychiatry (2009) 195(5):420-426
http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/abstract/195/5/420

[9]  ”Abortion and Mental Health Disorders: evidence from a 30 year longitudinal study”
Fergusson DM, Horwood LJ, Boden JM, British Journal of Psychiatry (2008) 193:444-451

http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/full/193/6/444

[10] ”The Influence of Previous Pregnancy Terminations, Miscarriages and Stillbirths on the Incidence of Babies with Low Birth Weight and Premature Births as well as a Somatic classifiacation of Newborns”, Voigt M, Olbertz D, Fusch C, Krafczyk D, Briese V, Schneider KT Z Geburtshilfe Neonatol. 2008 Feb:212(1):5-12 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18293256

[11]  ”Induced Abortion and Traumatic Stress: a preliminary comparison of American and Russian women”, Rue VM, Coleman PK, Rue JJ, Reardon DC, Medical Science Monitor. 2004 10(10):SR 5-16 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15448616