For years, pro-life voices have been pointing to the link between previous abortions and pre-term birth, but the concern has been largely ignored by the abortion industry and public health entities.
More recently, Ohio has spent considerable time and resources combating our infant mortality rate, especially the mortality rates among African-American infants - where we are the worst in the nation. Suggested actions to improve Ohio's infant mortality rates include smoking cessation, safe sleep, reducing premature births, and increasing contraceptive use and breastfeeding to "safely space" childbirth are all among the state's recommendations to reduce Ohio's infant mortality rates. Setting aside our concerns with some of the tone of these public health recommendations, perhaps now public officials will consider a recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology finding that a prior surgical abortion increased pre-term birth and reduced birth weight by a statistically significant amount.
The study itself did not take a medical or moral stance against abortion. If anything, the contents could be said to have a preference toward encouraging the development of "safer" surgical procedures or making more medical-style abortions available to women. In fact, the study didn't actually single out induced surgical abortions, it focused instead on surgical efforts to "clear the uterus" following an induced abortion or a miscarriage, comparing them to outcomes that included medically induced abortions, miscarriages, and women with no prior pregnancy loss.
An analysis of the study noted, "Surgical evacuation of the uterus mechanically stretches the cervix, and does so quickly, Dr. Berghella says. 'In normal birth, dilation of the cervix occurs slowly over a period of many hours. Mechanically stretching the cervix, however, may result in permanent physical injury to the cervix.' Resulting scar tissue, for example, could increase the probability of faulty placental implantation in the womb, and could increase risk for infectious diseases."
Researchers considered more than 1 million women in 36 studies. They found that women with a history of surgical uterine evacuation had a higher (0.7) percent chance of preterm birth and a higher (by 1.4) percent of babies born with a low birth weight than those who had neither surgical nor medical procedures.
According to the analysis cited above, "'These data — the most comprehensive look at the issue to date — find that prior surgical uterine evacuation may be an independent risk factor for preterm birth' says Berghella. 'The findings warrant caution in the use of these surgical techniques...'"
Or, perhaps they just underscore what we have been saying all along: Abortion kills unborn children and hurts women.
This is especially interesting in light of the editorial pushback from newspapers and abortion advocates over House Bill 294, pending legislation that would eliminate about $1.3 billion in funding from Planned Parenthood (and other organizations that provide abortions). Those reports claim that the state is cutting infant mortality programs and denying low-income patients needed health services. As a reality check: In 2014, Planned Parenthood received $3.7 million from the state of Ohio. Most of that (about $2.4 million) was medicaid reimbursement. Medicaid is the state-funded insurance program for low income Ohioans. HB 294 does not stop medicaid reimbursement to Planned Parenthood for medical services rendered (things like annual gyn exams). The rest of the money, about $1.3 million is from other state programs with names like "healthy moms, healthy babies," smoking cessation, and other programs. In 2014, Planned Parenthood got about $250,000 to fight infant mortality.
We are not going to solve Ohio's infant mortality crisis by giving money to the organization that proudly performs one third of all abortions in the United States. We have been saying that for decades, but it is nice to read it in black and white in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.