Abortion’s Impact on Women, by Angela Lanfranchi, Ian Gentles, and Elizabeth Ring-Cassidy, softcover, 433 pp, $29.95, ISBN-13: 978-0920453360, Toronto, Ontario, De Veber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research, 2013.
The adverse impact of legally induced abortion on society is apparent, with major demographic and social changes. Greatly increased numbers of legal abortions make this impact on women’s health all the more consequential. This book meets a major need to make these effects known.
Demographers distinguish between a first and second demographic transition. The first manifests a reduction in the birth rate from greater use of all kinds of birth control. The second manifests in a decline in marriage, itself a radical change in society, and which also leads to further reduction in the birth rate, and a parallel further increase in induced abortions, which are much more common among unmarried women.
While the book’s main focus is on post-abortion medical conditions in women, it also has some preliminary review of the social context. Topics in the first 89 pages include healing after abortion, maternal and infant mortality as a background concern, sex-selective abortions, the question of abortion leading to crime, and informed consent in abortion. The discussion of abortion in relation to marriage focuses on psychiatric issues and the rise in single parenting. Divorces and relationship breakdowns are also often linked to abortion.
The book is comprehensive. There are chapters on autoimmune diseases, maternal mortality from abortion, the safety of medical or drug-induced abortion, multi-fetal pregnancy reduction (MFPR), and pain during and after abortion.
Abortionists acknowledge some of the known health risks, and they claim to make a proper declaration for their client women so that their consent to abortion is informed. These include premature or preterm births after abortion. The chapter on this subject has a valuable discussion of cerebral palsy, which is more prevalent among children born prematurely. But the chapters on mental health and on breast cancer are all the more valuable because abortionists have been reluctant to acknowledge these risks.
Most British abortions are approved for reasons of mental health, whether of the pregnant woman or her children. So it is understandable that our medical professional bodies and health authorities are particularly reluctant to acknowledge the adverse impact of abortion on the mental health of women, and there is a dearth of British research in this area.
Medical authorities’ defensive stance on legally induced abortion seems also to be one reason why few cancer epidemiologists wish to acknowledge the increased risks of breast cancer among women who have had abortions, and they prefer to explain the increased modern incidence of female breast cancer only in vague terms. While the etiology of the modern breast cancer epidemic is not clearly resolved, breast cancer is overtaking lung cancer as the most common cancer, yet breast cancer prevention is much less of a priority for our public health authorities now than is prevention of lung and other cancers. Chapter 7, entitled “Biology and Epidemiology Confirm the Abortion-Breast Cancer Link,” gives a good account of the modern debate on both fronts.
The book’s final section, headed “Women’s Voices,” has two chapters. One is “Who Are the Experts? What 101 Women Told Us.” The last chapter is “Women’s Voices: Narratives of the Abortion Experience.”
Though abortion sequelae have been neglected by researchers and overlooked by research funding institutions, data has been accumulating. The book is especially useful as a reference for those engaged in debates or litigation because it provides 668 references to papers in medical journals or other scientific publications. These many scientific references have worldwide validity, and we can usefully cite them.
Patrick Carroll, M.A.