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Previous abortion increases odds of having baby with disabilities

June 13, 2009

This research has been quietly bubbling up over the years, but no one wants to touch it – at the expense of the right to informed consent. Obviously this author is not writing from the perspective of having a child with special needs, or she may be a bit “kinder” in her choice of words at times. But anyone considering termination needs to know this information.

The abortion issue we’re ignoring

Barbara Kay,  National Post 

Last week’s murder of Dr. George Tiller, probably the world’s most committed abortion provider, evoked a storm of emotive rhetoric from familiar antagonists in the never-quite-dormant abortion debate over “rights.” Those advocating for an unborn child’s right to live once again faced off against those advocating for a woman’s right to terminate a life within her own body.

There’s a third side to the debate that gets short media shrift: emerging knowledge about medical risks surrounding induced abortion (IA). Throughout 40 years of highly publicized ideological squabbling, researchers in the field of human reproduction have been quietly beavering away on mounting epidemiological data around IA and its link to preterm birth (PTB) in a future pregnancy. Recent findings in their research remind us of a “right” generally observed in the breach: the right of women seeking safe abortions to informed consent.

Approximately 100,000 abortions are performed annually in Canada (30 per 100 live births), about a million in the U. S. and some 14 million worldwide, a significant percentage of them repeats (in the U. S. 46%). These are conservative figures: The U. S. National Survey of Family Growth estimates only six of 10 prior IAs are reported.

A fullterm birth is 37-42 weeks’ gestation, so all PTBs are under 37 weeks. “Very preterm birth” (VPT) is under 33 weeks; “extreme preterm birth” (XPT) signifies under 28 weeks. Not in dispute: PTB presents a heightened risk for birth defects, and that risk escalates dramatically with VPT and XPT.

The most feared deficits are grouped under the acronym MACE: mental retardation, autism (according to a 2008 Norwegian study, XPT newborns are 10 times as likely as fullterm to be diagnosed with autism), cerebral palsy and epilepsy. So whatever reduces the risk of preterm birth will result in human and material benefit to stricken families and society alike. continue

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