Abortion Supervisory Committee,
25th November 2016
Dear Ms Cole
Preterm Birth – Perinatal Mortality
Preterm birth is the leading cause of perinatal mortality in the U.S. and is emotionally and financially costly for families even when it does not prove fatal to the child.
Approximately eight per cent of babies born in New Zealand are preterm and born before thirty-seven weeks. This is the second leading cause of death for children under five. There has been a 2.1 per cent increase in preterms within the last twenty years. There are about 5,000 babies born preterm in New Zealand each year.
The World Health Organisation lists a number of reasons, but not abortion for preterm deliveries. Because of the increase in preterm birth in the U.S. in the last forty to fifty years it has made researchers curious as to whether there might be a connection to abortion, legalized in 1973. One reason to conduct the study is that the incidence of preterm births has been rising, and falling, in parallel to popularity of abortion, the vast majority of which, until late, have been surgical.”
In the last several years, researchers have published multiple studies appearing to demonstrate such a link, but now comes a meta-analysis in a major medical journal which lends strong support to that conclusion. A mega-analysis has more predictive power because it combines the results from multiple studies–in this case 36 studies covering more than one million women.
The study, “Prior uterine evacuation of pregnancy as independent risk factor for preterm birth: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” was published in the May 2016 issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. The authors are Vincenzo Berghella and Lisa Perriera, two researchers from Thomas Jefferson University (Philadelphia), and Gabriele Saccone, of the University of Naples Federico II in Italy.
Berghella and his colleagues looked at 36 studies covering the cases of 1,047,683 women. They were looking for data that showed what happened in subsequent pregnancies after some form of “uterine evacuation”–that is, an “induced termination of pregnancy” (surgical or chemical abortion) or the use of some medical means to clear the uterus after a “spontaneous abortion” (miscarriage).
What they found was a significantly higher risk of subsequent preterm birth among women who had surgical abortions or used some surgical means to resolve their miscarriages.
Though both those with surgically treated miscarriages and abortions saw increases, the numbers were much higher for women who had surgical abortions (+ 22.7%) than for those who had surgical treatment for miscarriage (+9.3%). Taken together, those women who had “uterine evacuations” for abortion or miscarriage saw a 14% increase risk of subsequent preterm birth.
Numbers were worse for those women who had D&E abortions (+ 27.9%) or had more than one prior surgical abortion (+172%).
These studies did not appear to show an increase in preterm births following a medical abortions. Berghella suggested that the cause in surgical abortion procedures may be the rapid, mechanical dilation of the cervix that is done in order for the abortionist to enter the uterus and remove the child. Mechanically stretching the cervix however, may result in permanent physical injury to the cervix.”
In the studies that looked at women with prior surgical abortions, those women had a 5.4% risk of having a subsequent preterm birth as opposed to “controls” who had just a 4.4% risk. (“Controls” are women who’ve had children but had not had a previous “uterine evacuation.”)
This data makes clear that the mere fact that a mother survives an abortion is not sufficient to call her abortion “safe.” What we see now is that not only does the child she’s carrying lose his or her life, but that abortion may damage her and any future children she may bear.
It is a tragedy when a baby is born very prematurely and disabled with its life in the balance. It appears that the preterm birth rate in a country depends on the abortion rate.Right to Life is not aware of any research being conducted In New Zealand.
We believe that it would be a great service to women if your Committee were to recommend to government that research be conducted into the relationship between surgical abortion and preterm births. We believe that women considering an abortion have a right to know if having a surgical abortion is going to threaten the health and life of future children.