The Elliot Institute News  
From the Leader in Post-Abortion Research
Vol. 9, No. 4  -- March 19, 2010


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Rep. Chris Smith Speaks on Risks of Abortion at Hearing with Hillary Clinton

Calls "Safe Abortion" the "Ultimate Oxymoron


"The term 'safe abortion' is the ultimate oxymoron," stated U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) yesterday during a House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on the Fiscal Year 2011 International Budget.


Smith made the remarks during testimony by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He cited increased risks of breast cancer, psychological problems and subsequent preterm birth among women with a history of abortion, leading to higher risks of birth defects, cerebral palsy, developmental delays and neonatal mortality.


"At least 102 studies show significant psychological harm, major depression and elevated suicide risk in women who abort. ..." Smith said. "At least 28 studies--including three in 2009--show that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer by some 30-40 percent or more. Yet the abortion industry has largely succeeded in suppressing these facts."


Smith also quoted an article from the Times of London in which 15  senior psychiatrists, obstetricians and other professionals said that "new evidence has uncovered a clear link between abortion and mental illness in women with no previous history of psychological problems. ... women who have had abortions have twice the level of psychological problems and three times the level of depression as women who have given birth or have never been pregnant."

Research Links Abortion to Range of Mental Health Problems

Research in which the Elliot Institute was involved has found that women who have abortions are at higher risk for death, including suicide; substance abuse; depression; anxiety disorders; sleep disorders; mental health problems needing treatment; future parenting difficulties and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

One survey of American women found that 64 percent reported feeling pressured to abort and 65 percent reported all the symptoms necessary for a clinical diagnosis of PTSD. And a study published in January in the journal Traumatology found that 54 percent of the women and 43 percent of the men reported all the symptoms for a clinical diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. The study also found that inadequate counseling before abortion and disagreement with one's partner about the abortion were linked to higher rates of relationship problems, intrusion and avoidance behaviors and PTSD.

Unintended Pregnancy A "Disease?"

Smith said he was "disappointed" that in a government document he examined, "unintended pregnancy seems to be relegated to the status of a disease--juxtaposed between HIV and tropical disease."

Indeed, while abortion advocates have argued that abortion is better for women than unintended pregnancy, research suggests otherwise. Studies comparing women who abort to women who carry an unintended pregnancy to term (without any known history of abortion) reveal that aborting women have more subsequent depression, anxiety and substance abuse, and that teens who abort an unintended pregnancy are more likely to experience negative mental health outcomes than teens who carry the unwanted pregnancy to term.

And the authors of a recent New Zealand study (headed by a pro-choice researcher) wrote in their paper that, "There is no evidence in this research that would suggest that unwanted pregnancies that come to term were associated with increased risks of mental health problems or that abortion mitigated the risks of mental health problems in women having unwanted pregnancy."

Improving Maternal Health; Ending Forced Abortions in China and Elsewhere

Smith also drew attention to the global situation on abortion, saying that policies need to be directed at improving maternal health worldwide, not promoting abortion.

"Today, as never before, the largely preventable tragedy of maternal mortality is being exploited to promote unfettered access to abortion on demand," he said. "I would respectfully submit that if we are truly serious about reducing maternal mortality, women, especially in the developing world, need access to proper maternal health care, skilled birth attendants, safe blood and clinics were obstructed deliveries can be turned into safe passages."

"Abortion, on the other hand, solves nothing, kills children, harms woman and should in no way be integrated into any global action plan or country specific strategy otherwise designed to mitigate maternal mortality," he added.

A report from the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute would seem to back up Smith's claim, finding that countries with the most restrictive abortion laws also had the lowest maternal death rates, while countries with more permissive laws tended to have higher maternal death rates.

Smith concluded his remarks by drawing attention to the situation in China, where women undergo forced abortions and sterilizations as a result of restrictive population control measures, and where girls are often aborted in favor of boys. He quoted testimony from a Chinese student who was forced to undergo an abortion after becoming pregnant:

"She said, '[T]he room was full of moms who had just gone through a forced abortion. Some moms were crying. Some moms were mourning. Some moms wee screaming. And one mom was rolling on the floor in an unbearable pain.' Then Wuijan said it was her turn, and through her tears she described what she called her 'journey in hell.'"

"Why has the [United Nations Population Fund] supported, funded and defended China's forced abortion policy for thirty years?" Smith asked. A good question, especially since the UNFPA, in a report on the state of the world's population report as far back as 1997, stated that "Coerced abortion is a violation of basic human rights and principles."

Clinton did not offer a reply to Smith's remarks.


See a video of Rep. Smith's remarks.

Learn more: Download our summary of Recent Research on the psychological and physical effects of abortion.

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