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'Argument from authority' can often be a compelling and important position from which to make a point.  In the case of pre-term (under 37 weeks gestation) and extreme pre-term births (under 28 weeks gestation) in women with previous abortions, the argument is made by the National Academies Press (NAP), an mega-institute funded by the United States Congress and comprised of the most prestigious scientists, authorities and experts in the fields of medicine, engineering and science (www.nap.edu). Their web-site claims that “the institutions represented by the NAP are unique in that they attract the nation's leading experts in every field to serve on their award-winning panels and committees. This is the right place for definitive information on everything from space science to animal nutrition.”

overwhelming-evidence

'Argument from authority' can often be a compelling and important position from which to make a point.  In the case of pre-term (under 37 weeks gestation) and extreme pre-term births (under 28 weeks gestation) in women with previous abortions, the argument is made by the National Academies Press (NAP), an mega-institute funded by the United States Congress and comprised of the most prestigious scientists, authorities and experts in the fields of medicine, engineering and science (www.nap.edu). Their web-site claims that “the institutions represented by the NAP are unique in that they attract the nation's leading experts in every field to serve on their award-winning panels and committees. This is the right place for definitive information on everything from space science to animal nutrition.”

It is of note, then, that their study entitled “Preterm Birth: Causes, Consequences, and Prevention,” authored by notable NAP organizations, the Board on Health Sciences Policy (HSP) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM), and written by eminent scientist Greg Roy Alexander (PhD), claims that “prior first trimester induced abortion” is an “immutable medical risk factor associated with preterm birth” (Table B-5, p.625).  

“Immutable medical risk factors” are, according to the study, “the better-established and more-predictive risk factors” for pre-term birth, that are unchangeable in the current pregnancy because they pre-date the pregnancy. For this reason they “pose significant challenges for either prevention or effective intervention.”  In fact, in a table listing risk factors, “prior first trimester induced abortion” claims the number 3 spot, ahead of several other possible risk factors such as familial and intergenerational factors, placental abnormalities or urogenital infections.

Indeed, the studies related to pre-term birth (PTB) and extremely pre-term birth (XPB) do show a striking link with induced abortion. The first meta-analysis published in the February, 2009, Journal of Reproductive Medicine, and named after the chief researcher, Dr. Hanes Swingle, concluded that, "Our meta-analyses indicate that there is an increased risk of PTB after either spontaneous or induced abortion in both case-control and cohort studies."  The "Swingle study" looked at 7,891 titles, 349 abstracts and 130 articles mentioning induced or spontaneous abortions between 1995-2007.

In 2009 another researcher, Dr. Prakesh Shah from the University of Toronto, using a 'systematic review', looked at data from 37 prior studies of the induced abortion 'preemie' risk and found that one prior IA (Induced Abortions) increases preterm birth risk by 36%, two or more prior IAs boosted preemie risk by 93%. The over-all rate of increase between 1980 and 2005 was 43%, ( Annual summary of vital statistics, 2005. Pediatrics, 2007).

Renowned French doctor, Emile Papiernik, who between the years 1972 and 1989 headed a national program that cut premature births in France by 50%, co-authored of a 2004 Human Reproduction study in which data from women in ten European countries was used. Again, the findings were statistically significant. If a woman had one prior IA, she boosted her relative odds of a very preterm birth (under 33 weeks) gestation by 34%, but if a woman had more than one prior IA, she elevated her very preterm delivery odds by 82%.

Those most affected are Black women in the United States. They have over 4 times the induced abortion rate as Caucasian women according to the Centers for Disease Control. In 2004, 38.2% of all U.S. surgical abortions were performed on black women, who comprise about 12.5% of the U.S. Female population. A meta-analysis by Himpens E, et al. called Prevalence, type, and distribution and severity of cerebral palsy in relation to gestational age, found that these women have 4 times the risk of an extremely preterm delivery (under 28 weeks' gestation) as Caucasian women and their babies have 129 times the risk of  Cerebral Palsy as do full-term babies (Medicine & Child Neurology, 2008).

Of course, pre-term and extreme pre-term babies are at serious risk for a number of complications, including mental retardation, autism, cerebral palsy and epilepsy, often referred to as the acronym “MACE.”  The increase in autism cases since the 1960's is alarming. According to the CDC, in the 1960s the U.S. Autism rate for newborns was approximately 1 in 10,000, but by 2009 that ratio had sky-rocketed to 1 in 110. In 1999, Professor Larry Burd & colleagues reported that women with prior induced abortions tripled their risk of delivering a newborn later diagnosed with Autism.

Preterm birth is the most important risk factor for cerebral palsy (CP). In 2002, Dr. Bo Jacobsson et al., found that Swedish women with prior IAs had a 60% higher risk of a newborn with CP.  According to the study, the risk of CP is inversely proportional to gestational age and the relative risk is 60 times higher when the baby is born earlier than 28 weeks gestation than at term. The Swedish study found that only 6.1% of infants were born preterm, at less than 37 weeks gestation during the period 1983–1990, but they accounted for 41.5% of that region’s CP cases.  

Researchers Rooney and Calhoun make reference to the phenomena that took place in Poland.  In their Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons article (Winter, 2008), they write that “the enactment of severe restrictions on abortion in Poland was followed by a plunge in PTB. Between 1989 and 1993, the Polish IA fell by 98%, and between 1995 and 1997, Poland’s XPB rate decreased by 21%.”  Inversely, the US PTB rate increased steadily  from 8.9% in 1980 to 12.7% in 2005. “The U.S. has never experienced a 2-year decrease in XPB comparable to the 21% drop in Poland’s rate.”  

In fact, a striking piece in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, (2007) by Dr. Byron Calhoun et al showed that there were 1,096 annual excess cases of Cerebral Palsy in the U. S.  These  cases were in pre-term newborns under 3.5 lbs and were directly traced to a prior IA, a finding that, according to the author, “has never been challenged via a letter to the editor" of the Journal.

Even the editor-in-chief of the British Journal of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said that the evidence that abortion increases the risk of preterm labor is now “overwhelming” (P. Steer, personal communication, Rooney, 2006).  

In her article on this issue (The Abortion Issue We're Ignoring, June, 2009), National Post columnist, Barbara Kay, writes, “Given the accessibility of these studies to abortion providers, if I were the mother of a post-IA, PTB infant or toddler with autism or cerebral palsy, and had not been informed as a matter of regulatory course of IA's risk for a future PTB, I'd be angry. Litigiously so.”

“Freedom of choice” ought to imply informed choice. But the reality is that many important studies such as these are being buried amidst the political and social wrangling to keep abortion legal, at any cost. And, as always, those bearing the cost of pro-choice ideology are women and their children.