Women’s health groups are concerned that women are obtaining inaccurate figures about mortality, drug taking and suicide rates.
Anti-abortion websites are informing women that mortality rates 10 years after undergoing an abortion are much higher than for women who give birth and they link this to drug taking and suicide increases. These claims have no scientific basis at all.
The websites can easily be accessed via Google and they state that they are managed by non-biased or independent organisation, but generally have an anti-abortion stance.
One of these websites, Real Choices, issues a pamphlet which purportedly debunks the ‘myths’ of abortion. It states that 20% of females who have an abortion suffer from serious long-term psychological trauma. The pamphlet also states that there is a huge risk of premature births in the future for those who have opted for abortion and that the procedure is linked to an increased use of drugs and alcohol.
Health professionals have warned that some of the websites are misleading women and causing extreme anxiety. It is important that women are aware of where they can go to obtain unbiased information.
In the UK, it is legal to terminate a pregnancy up to 24 weeks. Last year around 519 abortions were done at 23 weeks. It is necessary to obtain the consent of two doctors before an abortion can be carried out. Even if the woman decides to terminate the pregnancy as soon as she finds out about it, the administrative delays make it a lengthy procedure. If the 24 week time period had to be shortened, this could cause a problem for women.
Abortion does not come with a black and white solution as there are many grey areas that need attention.
Statistics collected over the past four years, from 25 hospitals, indicated that 120 babies were able to survive at 23 weeks. The University College London hospital had a reported survival rate of more than 85%, however the national rate is much lower as small hospitals without the specialist unit care facilities are included.
The message, however, is quite clear – birth at this premature stage is not always a death sentence.
A director at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, Clare Murphy, states that the figures which have been revealed justify discussion, but they are not conclusive and there are no definitive answers that fit all females or all pregnancies.
She said that the latest major study indicates that there have been improvements in the survival rates at 24 weeks and later over the past 20 years. However, survival rates at 23 weeks remain low at only 15% and around two thirds of the survivors will suffer some form of disability.
She added that the new statistics do not show women the full picture as the figures only gain credence when newborns have access to a high level of postnatal care and this is not available to everyone.
Image Credit: Elvert Barnes