Cruel and Usual Punishment
Since abortion has been legalized there have been many techniques promoted to end the life of a developing unborn child. The following are methods used to perform abortions and possible complications from the procedures.
Suction Curettage (Vacuum Aspiration)- This is the most extensively used abortion technique‚ especially during first trimester abortions. It is performed in approximately 97% of abortion procedures1 . In this procedure‚ the cervix is dilated by a group of instruments. A powerful suction tube with a knife-like edge on the tip is inserted into the uterus. The suction or vacuum dismembers the unborn child and sucks her out of the womb. The abortionist must also use his tool to remove the placenta‚ blood‚ and amniotic fluid.
Complications of Suction Curettage- The most frequent post-abortion complication is infection. Infection can occur if any of the fetal or placental tissue is left in the uterus2 . Another possible complication is uterine hemorrhage. Hemorrhaging can occur if the uterus is punctured during the abortion3 .
Dilatation and Curettage (D&C)- In this abortion method‚ the cervix is dilated so a steel knife with a loop shape can be inserted into the uterus. The abortionist then uses this knife to scrape the wall of the uterus. This scraping cuts the unborn child to pieces and removes both the child and placenta from the uterine wall.
Complications from D & C- The most apparent complication from this procedure is extensive bleeding. Other common complications include infection and uterine perforation4 .
RU486 (Abortion Pill)- RU486 is a combination of two drugs used to expel a child from the womb. During the first visit to the abortion clinic‚ a woman will take mifepristone orally. Mifepristone blocks natural hormones that maintain the nutrient rich lining of the uterus. The developing baby dies as the lining of the uterus disintegrates. On the second visit to the doctor‚ the woman takes misoprostol‚ which was originally designed as an ulcer medicine‚ to produce powerful contractions. After taking this drug‚ most women abort within 4 hours‚ but 30 percent abort their children later at work‚ home‚ etc5 . On the third visit to the clinic‚ the abortionist will confirm the death of the unborn child and check for complications.
Complications of RU486- In the clinical trials performed in the U.S. on 2‚121 women from September 1994 to September 1995‚ a large number of complications were documented. The New England Journal of Medicine reported these findings: the most frequent side effects were bleeding and cramping; nausea and vomiting were also frequent; 56 women underwent surgical intervention for excessive bleeding; 4 women received blood transfusions; the average duration of bleeding was 13 days‚ and 170 women or 8 percent of the women didn’t abort their unborn children and were encouraged to have a surgical abortion6 . On September 24‚ 1995‚ the Waterloo Courier (Iowa) printed a letter from Dr. Mark Louviere‚ in which he described a women who lost half her blood and almost died from RU-486 complications. It should also be noted that there haven’t been any long-term effects studies done with these drugs so no one is certain if there are any possible long-term side effects from using these two drugs.
Salt Poisoning (Saline Amniocentesis)-After 16 weeks-In this procedure‚ a needle with a solution of concentrated salt is inserted through the woman’s abdomen into the amniotic sac. The child breathes in the salt and is poisoned. It usually takes around an hour for the unborn child to die. After 33 to 35 hours the woman goes into labor and delivers a dead‚ shriveled baby7 .
Complications of Salt Poisoning- One possible side effect of salt poisoning is that the mother might get a condition called consumption coagulopathy‚ which is uncontrolled blood clotting throughout the body‚ with severe hemorrhaging and other serious side effects to the nervous system8 . If the abortionist misses the womb and injects the saline solution into the woman’s vascular system‚ seizures‚ coma‚ or death can result9 . This procedure is outlawed in Japan and other countries because of these risks to the woman10 .
Dilation and Evacuation (D & E) -12 to 24 weeks- This procedure was developed since salt poisoning was considered too dangerous and has largely replaced it as the second-trimester abortion procedure11 . In this method‚ the cervix is dilated so grasping forceps can be inserted into the uterus. At this stage in development‚ the child’s bones have hardened‚ so the baby can no longer be removed by suction or scraping. The abortionist uses these forceps to dismember different parts of the child‚ such as arms and legs. The child’s head is often too large to be removed from the womb‚ so the abortionist must crush the skull in order to remove it. When the procedure is over‚ a nurse will attempt to reassemble the body parts to make sure that there is nothing left in the uterus.
Complications of D & E-Bleeding is usually profuse and infection can occur if the abortionist doesn’t remove all of the pieces of the child’s body from the womb. This procedure‚ along with D & C‚ is performed blindly with the abortionist using only his or her sense of feel. If an abortionist isn’t careful‚ the uterus‚ bladder‚ and bowels can be punctured.
Partial-Birth Abortion (D & X)-20 weeks and beyond-This is a three day procedure. During the first two days‚ the pregnant woman’s cervix is anesthetizedand dilated. On the day of the operation‚the abortionist uses a sonogram to find the child’s leg. Once the abortionist has a hold of a leg with forceps‚ the child is pulled through the birth canal until the whole child is delivered except for the head. The abortionist then forces scissors into the base of the skull and spreads the scissors so a suction catheter can be put into this hole and evacuate the contents of the skul12 .
Complications of D & X- In order to unnaturally dilate a women’s cervix‚ an abortionist must insert laminaria‚ a few at a time‚ over a 3 to 5 day period. This unnatural dilatation can cause various complications such as large amounts of pain‚ infection‚ and an incompetent cervix‚ which makes it difficult for women to have children in the future. Complications that are possible when the abortionist is reaching for the child’s foot include hemorrhage‚ uterine perforation‚ uterine rupture‚ amniotic fluid embolus‚ and trauma to the uterus. The complications that are possible when the abortionist blindly inserts scissors into the child’s skull are laceration of the uterus or cervix by the scissors and could result in severe bleeding and the threat of shock or even maternal death13.
Specialized Abortion Procedure
Fetal Reduction- With the use of in-vitro fertilization‚ a specialized form of abortion is being used. This form of abortion is called fetal reduction. When a woman attempts to become pregnant with in vitro fertilization‚ usually multiple embryos are placed in her womb. This method‚ which increases the probability of pregnancy also increases the probability of a multiple pregnancy. Women who become pregnant with more than two children can elect for fetal reduction. During a fetal reduction procedure‚ a needle is inserted into the heart of the unborn child. The child is then injected with potassium chloride (a saline solution) and dies. The least-healthy looking or easiest to kill fetuses are usually reduced.
Overview of Complications
Early Complications. The following are complications for women which may be identified a
few weeks after an abortion.
Bleeding: In many women‚ the bleeding is so profuse that blood transfusions are required.
Infection: The damage done can range from mild to fatal. Compared to hospitals‚ the rate of
infections in abortion clinics with far inferior care is at least doubled14. The usual infection is called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is difficult to control and can lead to sterility even when there is prompt treatment. Some women with PID can have chronic pain for the rest of their lives15 . Failure to remove parts of the child: If an abortionist leaves part of a child inside the womb during an abortion‚ severe infection may result. This infection would cause severe cramping and bleeding‚ and if the infection persists‚ the woman may have to have a hysterectomy (removal of the womb).
Embolisms: Since abortion is an unnatural procedure that the body isn’t ready for‚ the slicing of the placenta from the uterine wall can cause fluids around the child‚ pieces of tissue‚ or blood clots to enter the woman’s circulation. These then travel to the lungs of the woman causing damage and occasionally death16 .
Long-Term Complications. Many of the complications from abortion might not be seen until years after the abortion takes place and might not even be recognized as complications of abortion.
Ectopic Pregnancy: An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an embryo implants at a site other than the lining of the uterus. The child will continue to grow in a place outside of the womb‚ often in the fallopian tube.Surgery is then required to remove the child‚ in order to save the mother. Studies have shown that women who abort their first pregnancy increase their risk of having an ectopic pregnancy by 500%17 . Centers for Disease Control reports that about 100‚000 ectopic pregnancies occur each year which is a rise of over 500% since the pre-Roe v. Wade number of 17‚800 in 1970. The CDC also reports that “ectopic pregnancies are the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths in the first trimester and account for 9% of all pregnancy related deaths in this country.”
Increase in Miscarriages and Other Pregnancy Complications: Studies have shown that abortion during the first pregnancy can cause significant increases in complications with later pregnancies18. Another study shows that pregnancy failure is increased 45% if a woman has had one previous abortion18 . Other studies showed that premature births‚ neonatal deaths‚ and miscarriages in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy were significantly increased in women who had experienced an induced abortion20‚ 21‚ 22.
Breast Cancer: In studies across the United States and in other countries‚ it has been found that women who have had abortions have a higher chance of getting breast cancer later in life. These are studies that have been done by professionals and are published in respected medical journals. One study‚ done in 1990‚ that summarized findings in medical studies from Canada‚ Denmark‚ France‚ Israel‚ Japan‚ the United States‚ and the USSR‚ found that “abortions‚ either multiple or occurring before the first full term pregnancy‚ have been shown to be significantly associated with breast cancer risks23.” A study done by the National Cancer Institute in Washington found that women who had an abortion increased their risk of getting breast cancer by 50%. This risk was more than doubled if the woman’s abortion (or first abortion) took place before the age of 18 or over the age of 3024. Abortion’s link to breast cancer is theorized to exist because abortion is an unnatural procedure which stops the natural condition of a woman’s breasts getting ready to produce milk for her child. In early pregnancy‚ a woman’s breast tissue grows and begins to differentiate to cells that will produce milk. An abortion stops this natural process‚ so many of the cells that would have produced milk are now undifferentiated cells. These cells are much more capable of turning into cancer cells then the cells that were present before she became pregnant.
Sterility: Other complications of abortion‚ such as infections‚ can often cause scar tissue in the womb. If the scar tissue covers the opening between the uterus and the fallopian tubes‚ it is impossible for a sperm to fertilize a woman’s egg. If fertilization can’t occur then a woman can’t become pregnant through natural means.
Psychological Consequences: Although a woman might not be harmed physically by an abortion‚ there is a good possibility that she could be hurt psychologically. Research is providing evidence that having an abortion can have negative psychological effects. Researchers have found that at least 19% of post-aborted women suffer from symptoms such as‚ but not limited to: feelings of intense grief or depression because of the abortion‚ anxiety attacks‚ difficulty concentrating‚ irritability‚ flashbacks to the abortion experience‚ recurrent thoughts about their aborted child‚ and nightmares or sleeping disorders25. The term for this specific group of symptoms is post- abortion syndrome or PAS. PAS has been proposed as a subset of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). People who have PTSD often try to suppress their feelings about a traumatic event. They often want to‚ but are unable to‚ express their feelings and emotions about this event. Women with PAS will often do whatever they can to get rid of their feelings of guilt‚ including drug and alcohol use.
Even though some abortions are performed without complications‚ there is no such thing as a safe abortion. In every “successful” abortion‚ an innocent child dies. The woman might not always be harmed but the child always is.
1CDC’s Abortion Surveillance 1997.
2Jane E. Hodgson‚ M.D.‚ “Abortion by Vacuum Aspiration‚” Abortion and Sterilization:
Medical and Social Aspects‚ Jane E. Hodgson‚ ed.‚ (New York: Academic Press‚ Grune and
Strathon‚ 1981)‚ pp. 256‚ 260-261.
3Ibid‚ pp. 256-258.
4Gary F. Cunningham‚ M.D.‚ et. al‚ Williams Obstetrics‚ 19th ed.‚ (Norwalk‚ CT: Appleton &
Lang‚ 1993)‚ p. 683.
5Population Council of New York‚ Release‚ October 27‚ 1994‚ p. 3.
6Irving M. Spitz‚ C. Wayne Bardin‚ Lauri Benton‚ Ann Robins‚ “Early Pregnancy Termination
with Mifepristone and Misoprostol in the United States‚” New England Journal of Medicine‚ Vol.
338‚ No. 18 (April 30‚ 1998)‚ pp. 1241-1247.
7Stephen L. Corson.‚ M.D.‚ et al‚ Fertility Control‚ (Boston: Little‚ Brown‚ and Company‚
1985)‚ pp. 82-83.
8James R. Scott‚ M.D.‚ et al‚ Danforth’s Obstetrics and Gynecology‚ 6th ed.‚(Philadelphia: J.B.
Lippincott‚ 1990)‚ p. 726.
9R. Bolognese and S. Corson‚ Interruption of Pregnancy