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Abortion Without Limits

But the Price of Choice Can Be Steep

MODESTO, California, JAN. 16, 2005 (Zenit) - In spite of the popular image of tanned California teen-agers, new laws make it easier to have an abortion that to get a tan in the Golden State. A report Jan. 2 in the Modesto Bee newspaper explained that a new law prohibits tanning salons for those under 14, while those aged 14-18 will need parental permission.

By contrast, a Jan. 3 report by informed readers that California Attorney General Bill Lockyear defended a law saying parents cannot be told when their teen-age children absent themselves from school to have an abortion.

Such contradictions are not limited to the United States. On Nov. 7 the London Daily Telegraph reported on an attempt, later rejected, by British parliamentarian David Hinchcliffe to introduce a total ban on smacking children. In 1990, Hinchcliffe opposed an amendment to a law that sought to reduce the legal limit for abortion from 24 weeks to 18 weeks, added the Telegraph.

In fact, the newspaper commented that of the 75 members of Parliament who voted in favor a smacking ban, 14 were present in the 1990 debate, and every one of them had voted in favor of abortion up to 24 weeks. As well, most had voted in favor of provisions making it legal to kill an unborn handicapped child right up to the point of birth.

Parents excluded

British regulations also deny parental control over their children's abortions. The Times reported July 31 on new guidelines published by the Department of Health allowing doctors to provide abortions to adolescents under 16 without telling their parents. The article added that 1 in 5 abortions in Britain involves a teen-ager, and that about 3,500 girls under 16 abort every year.

The guidelines recommend children be encouraged to inform parents of an abortion, but add: "Doctors and health professionals have a duty of care and a duty of confidentiality regardless of patient age."

Another country to deny a parent's role over their children's abortion is South Africa. In a statement issued last May 31, the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference strongly criticized a High Court decision that extended the "right" to abort to those under age 18. Following the judgment, girls may now procure an abortion without their parent's knowledge.

"This judgment will lead to the weakening of individual consciences, especially of those of young people whose conscience formation is at a critical stage," the bishops declared.

Cost of choice

Making abortion even easier for teen-agers flies in the face of mounting evidence that points to the serious effects of this procedure. The effects of abortion on women's health was addressed in a recently published collection of essays, edited by Erika Bachiochi, "The Cost of 'Choice': Women Evaluate the Impact of Abortion."

Elizabeth Shadigian, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan, explained that the long-term effects of abortion have received little attention by the medical community.

But, given that around 25% of all pregnancies in the United States end in abortion, even a small negative effect on women's health is a very important question, noted Shadigian. Some of the health consequences are the following:

-- Medical literature shows that an early, full-term pregnancy reduces the chance of breast cancer. Moreover, some studies indicate that induced abortion may separately increase the risk of breast cancer. This latter question of abortion as an independent risk factor is disputed, but a significant number of studies have pointed to a link.

-- Studies show abortion increases the risks of problems with the placenta in a subsequent pregnancy, thus obliging a cesarean section instead of a natural birth.

-- Twelve studies have found an association between abortion and preterm birth or low birth weight.

-- Studies have also shown a link between abortion and increased rates of suicide.

In her essay, Angela Lanfranchi, assistant professor of surgery at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, examined the much-argued question of a link between abortion and breast cancer. She noted that last March the medical journal Lancet published a study hailed as a definitive rebuttal of attempts to establish a causal relationship between the two phenomena.

But, argued Lanfranchi, this result was obtained by simply excluding from consideration a large number of the studies that conclude abortion is indeed a factor behind the significant increase in breast cancer among women in recent years. In fact, 29 out of 41 studies on the question do point to a link between abortion and breast cancer.

Lanfranchi added that there is an "intimidating political climate surrounding abortion" that makes it difficult for many to admit there is are risks involved. She recounted how one professor at a Boston cancer institute privately admitted to her that abortion is a risk factor for cancer, but would not bring it up in public for fear of losing her job. Another of Lanfranchi's colleagues lost an appointment at a New York medical school because he supported a study published in a medical journal that affirmed a link between abortion and breast cancer.

Psychological aftermath

E. Joanne Angelo, a psychiatrist in private practice in Boston, looked at the psychological consequences for women who have undergone abortions. She started by noting how in her 28 years of practice many women have shared with her the grief of losing their babies due to abortion.

Medical textbooks, she explained, clearly note that women who have suffered miscarriages suffer a mixture of frustration, guilt and sorrow, even though they bore no responsibility for the death of their child. After an induced abortion many women experience the same feelings, "with even greater intensity and over a much longer time," Angelo observed.

But, unlike mothers who have miscarried and are consoled, women who have aborted are expected to go on about their life as if nothing significant has happened. Angelo also noted that quite often a women aborts to preserve a relationship, but subsequently "few women can bear to spend their lives with the men with and for whom they have committed this act."

The first medical studies are now coming out on psychological aftereffects of abortion and initial results point to an increase in suicide, a higher rate of mental health problems and higher rates of death in general. "Three decades of abortion on demand have created an ocean of sorrow and grief in the hearts of women, often concealed at great personal expense," concluded Angelo.

Back-alley clinics

Another health problem regarding abortion is the sorry state of many abortion clinics, explained in essay by Denise Burke, a staff attorney for Americans United for Life. Back in the 1960s and 1970s supporters of legalized abortion argued it was necessary to bring abortion into the mainstream and eliminate the supposed thousands of deaths from back-alley abortions.

Thirty years down the line, Burke noted, legalization has not eliminated substandard medical care, nor has it ended the use of unsanitary practices or abortion being carried out by unqualified people.

The abortion industry is concerned above all in the profits it can make from procedures, rather than women's safety, she argued. In many cases efforts in legislatures to impose health laws on abortion clinics are impeded by lawyers engaged by the clinics. And even when laws are passed, abortion providers and pressure groups that defend abortion challenge them in the courts, often leading to their elimination.

In a recent homily, Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne, Germany, compared abortion and euthanasia to the Holocaust, according a Deutsche Welle report Jan. 7. His use of the Holocaust comparison was criticized, but current events show that abortion continues to be one of the great modern tragedies.


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Abortion, Teenagers, Women, Men, California, Law

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