Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Women Misled On Abortion Risks?

Rep. Henry Waxman (D- CA) is at it again. Back in 2004, an AP article by Mark Sherman quoted a report from Rep. Waxman accusing federally funded abstinence education programs of teaching "false and misleading information about contraception, abortion, and s-xually transmitted diseases." In the same article, the Deputy Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary for Population Affairs "said the Waxman report took statements out of context to present the programs in the worst possible light."

Yesterday, the AP released a new article, this one by Kevin Freking, quoting "a report issued Monday by Democrats on the House Government Reform Committee," led by Rep. Waxman, this time going after pregnancy resource centers. And if anything, this report appears to have even less basis than the previous one.

The congressional aides called 25 pregnancy centers, pretending to be pregnant 17-year-olds. Two could not be reached. The others explained the risks associated with abortion, as those pregnancy centers understood them. Among the most significant risks mentioned were breast cancer, infertility, and emotional stress. At first glance these risks seem almost unavoidable; however, Rep. Waxman and the rest of the Democrats on the House Government Reform Committee (HGRC) apparently believe they do not exist.

The risk of breast cancer is one of the most highly publicized - and one of the most controversial - risks associated with abortion. Some studies clearly find a relationship; others do not. But Rep. Waxman and his fellow Democrats apparently believe that a single workshop by the National Cancer Institute represents the entire truth of the matter. Meanwhile, a Reuters article yesterday says that "the Institute of Medicine and the National Cancer Institute have discounted any link between abortion and breast cancer, although the Institute briefly carried a statement on its Web site making such a link -- a statement that was taken down after a public clamor by scientists and doctors." In other words, at least one of these organizations DID believe there was a possible relationship between abortion and breast cancer, but protest by those who support abortion-on-demand forced them to pretend that relationship didn't exist. Of course the Congressman didn't see fit to acknowledge that potential disagreement.

The relationship between abortion and infertility seems so self-evident it doesn't even need to be discussed; nevertheless the Democrats on the HGRC appear to need a lesson. Any time a woman's reproductive organs are interfered with, the risk of infection and of scarring increases. Even a minor amount of scar tissue can move the Fallopian tubes out of their correct place and make conception impossible. Thus abdominal surgery, pregnancy, and abortion all increase a woman's risk of infertility, because they increase the risk of infection or scarring of her reproductive organs.

As for the emotional stress associated with abortion, this has been well documented. Pregnancy centers, of all places, ought to be able to speak to the prevalence of significant mental health issues associated with abortion. It may be true that the American Psychological Association has issued a statement that "severe negative reactions are rare." But the statement of the 13 centers that "told the caller that the psychological effects of abortion are severe, long-lasting, and common" are not necessarily contradictory; what a woman considers severe may not be the APA's dictionary definition.

As usual, Rep. Waxman and his fellow Democrats are out to get any faith-based organization trying to state clearly that abortion hurts women. It is ironic that in their insistence on making abortion legal at any point, for any reason, to every woman, they ignore or blithely pass over the painful truth of what happens to those women who have one.

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