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Monday, May 13, 2013

"Safe" Abortions?

As news of the Kermit Gosnell trial creeps into headlines, more people are becoming aware that abortion may not be as straightforward a procedure as its proponents like to make us believe. Abortion is a deadly practice; it results in a dead baby almost every time. Abortion is responsible for more than the death of the unborn child, however. How many mothers have died as a direct result of an abortion?

While estimates place the number of adult victims of abortion in the hundreds, it is very difficult to know for sure. Hospitals list the complication (for example, hemorrhage) as the cause of death rather than the abortion. In addition, many women die because they never tell their loved ones that the reason for their distress is abortion. By the time she seeks medical help, it is too late. We may never know all the women who are victims of their “choice,” women who were told that abortion is “safer than childbirth.”

Most medical procedures come with risks, but typically doctors are required to inform their patients about every aspect of the surgery. Abortion facilities, however, are often under-regulated and in many cases not required to describe the long term risks and other important health aspects of the abortion procedure.

Although the Gosnell clinic might be an extreme example, the practices there show just how inhumane, unsanitary, and disgusting the abortion practices can be. According to Gosnell’s staff, the abortionist used unsterilized utensils and did not dispose of the remains properly, creating unsanitary conditions for surgery. This, along with his grossly undertrained staff, led to the deaths of Semika Shaw and Karnamaya Mongar. Shaw died from infections after her cervix and uterus were perforated during the abortion procedure; Mongar died after an overdose of anesthesia.

Shaw and Mongar are the victims of late term surgical abortions, but even the chemical abortions, which take place within the first 7 weeks of pregnancy, are dangerous and sometimes fatal for the mother. According to a study in Australia, 5.7 percent of women who had chemical abortions were admitted to the hospital for treatment of complications, while 0.4 percent of surgical abortion patients did so.  A chemical abortion takes place over several days; the mother first takes the RU-486 pill, which causes the lining of the uterus to deteriorate and the baby to starve to death. After 48 hours, the mother then takes a second pill containing prostaglandins, which begins labor.

The women who opt for a chemical abortion are often unaware of the side effects and complications involved. Even though they take the pills in the abortion clinic, the labor, delivery, and any side effects take place at home without medical supervision. These women often experience extreme cramping, heavy and prolonged bleeding, nausea, and pain. Chemical abortions also leave psychological scars on their victims; many women believe they are delivering a “clump of cells” and are unprepared to see the tiny body of their baby.

One of the more famous victims of RU-486 is Holly Patterson. In 2003, the 17 year old took the abortion pills without her family’s knowledge. For several days, she suffered from severe cramps, bleeding, and nausea; when she consulted with the clinic, they told her it was normal and gave her painkillers. Four days after the abortion, Patterson’s stunned father watched his daughter die from what he later learned was a toxic shock infection. Since then, at least 11 other women have suffered the same death, while others have been hospitalized for hemorrhages.

Thankfully, organizations like North Carolina Right to Life and the other state affiliates of National Right to Life work hard to ensure that pro-life legislation is passed to prevent tragedies like these from happening. In North Carolina, one of the current pieces of legislation, S308—Amend the Woman’s Right to Know, would require that the physician be physically present to administer the chemical abortion, RU-486, in order to prevent abortion providers from dispensing this drug over the internet, a practice commonly known as web cam abortions.

Thanks to Woman’s Right to Know laws being passed nationwide, including the one passed in 2011 in North Carolina, abortion facilities are legally required to give the mother more information so she can make a truly informed abortion decision. Abortion will never be truly “safe,” especially for the unborn children who are targeted for death, but hopefully more mothers and their families will be spared the trauma of abortion and its complications.


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