False reassurances: Tasmania's Abortion Information Paper
Babette Francis - ONLINE Opinion, 19 March 2013
The Tasmanian Government has drafted an abortion-promoting Bill, titled "Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill 2013", which is even more draconian than Victoria's Abortion Law Reform Bill 2008. Its real intent appears to be not only to make access to abortions available (it already is) but to criminalise dissenting opinions.
So before the Bill is passed and I risk being extradited and confined to the prisons of Port Arthur where previous generations of boat convicts were incarcerated, I will point out some flaws on page l0 of the euphemistically titled "Information Paper" which accompanies the Bill.
1. The Information Paper falsely asserts that abortion does not result in infertility. With every surgical procedure there is a risk of infection, and the risks of infection after induced abortion may well result in infertility. Even if the woman does subsequently conceive, the weakening of her cervix because of the dilation required for the abortion may so weaken her cervix that she cannot carry future pregnancies to term. This is tacitly admitted in the Information Paper which admits the future risk of premature birth. Some of these babies are not salvageable because of extreme prematurity. It is a sobering statistic that 25% of Australian women will remain childless, and only a few of these have chosen to be childless by choice. One can speculate on how many of the desperate clients of IVF clinics have terminated previous "unwanted" pregnancies.
2. The Information Paper falsely asserts that women do not experience mental health problems following abortion. The very existence of organisations such as Silent No More (US) and Canada Silent No More with thousands of post-abortive members shows how false the assertion is. Two weeks ago at the UN's 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, Denise Mountenay of Canada Silent No More and Millie Lace of Concepts of Truth ran NGO Parallel Events (to packed lecture rooms) on Reproductive Health, Choice and Consequence at which post-abortive women described their overwhelming grief about the uninformed decisions they had made to terminate the lives of their unborn babies.
3. Studies in societies as disparate as Finland and California have shown that the risk of suicide is far higher for women who have had abortions compared to women who were not pregnant or those who had carried their babies to term. For detailed information on suicide risks and other damaging sequelae to induced abortion, the Elliott Institute's AfterAbortion.org is an excellent resource.
4. The Information Paper falsely asserts that abortion does not increase the risk of breast cancer. Facts not in dispute in the scientific community are that being childless increases risk, delay in first full-term pregnancy increases risk while early full-term pregnancy (before age 30) reduces risk as does breastfeeding. The more children a woman has, the lower her risk of breast cancer. Abortion mitigates against all these protective factors and in itself increases risk because pregnancy creates more breast tissue vulnerable to cancer while the abortion stops the maturation of this tissue into cancer-resistant stable milk-producing cells.
The US-based Breast Cancer Prevention Institute lists over 50 studies from 1957 on showing the increased risk of breast cancer caused by induced abortion. Since 2009 there have been new studies in the US, Iran, Turkey and China, confirming the risk. In Australia the incidence of breast cancer has risen by 40% since the legalising of abortion in the Menhennitt (Victoria, 1969) and Levine (NSW 1971) rulings, while the incidence of other cancers is declining.
In February this year the Journal of the American Medical Association reported a doubling of the incidence of breast cancer in young pre-menopausal women and a major increase in mortality. (JAMA Vol. 309 (8) 27 February 2013 p. 800-805: "Incidence of Breast cancer With Distant Involvement Among Women in the United States"). Mortality in this group is high as breast cancer in this cohort is difficult to diagnose at an early stage - breast tissue in young women is dense and in their mammograms it is difficult to distinguish between tissue and tumours.
5. What is reprehensible in what purports to be an Information Paper is that it does not include information on the benefits of having babies. Every baby reduces a woman's risk of breast cancer, but there are other benefits as well. A study on women in Dubbo published by the British Geriatric Society, 29/3/2012, showed that the more children the women had the better her life expectancy. Childless women had the lowest life expectancy, and women with six children had a longer life expectancy than women with only 2 or 3.
Tasmania has for some time been bereft of dollars and requiring subsidies from the mainland states, while recent data shows it is becoming bereft of population too, so one would have hoped that any Information Paper issued by the Tasmanian government would have highlighted the good news for individual women as well as the State of having babies.
Babette Francis is Australian representative of the international Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, and the National & Overseas Co-ordinator of Endeavour Forum Inc., an NGO having special consultative status with the Economic & Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN.