Abortion and Premature Birth Link Confirmed

In a recent issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, there is an article by Dr. Jay Iams confirming that abortions increase the risk of premature birth in future pregnancies.  While there have been numerous studies showing this link in the past, this is the most prestigious medical journal to date to feature this information.  Pro-Life organizations applaud the journal for highlighting this information, but wish the article went deeper into the connection between abortion and premature birth. 

The author, Dr. Iams, a professor and vice chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Ohio State University, wrote the report on caring for women prior to a pre-term birth.  Iams wrote, “Contrary to common belief, population-based studies have found that elective pregnancy terminations in the first and second trimesters are associated with a very small, but apparently real increase in the risk of subsequent spontaneous pre-term birth.” 

While Pro-Life organizations are very pleased to see this important information published, some question its presentation.  For example, in his notes Iams cites an article that found a 36% increase of pre-term birth with a previously induced abortion and yet in the article qualifies this as a “very small” increase.  The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) question how Dr. Iams can call an over one-third increase “very small.” 

Another issue AAPLOG takes with the article is Iams’ statement, “African American women have rates of pre-term birth that are nearly twice that of women of other backgrounds” and offers no explanation or theories why.  AAPLOG argues that Iams should have included the documented information that African-American women have an induced abortion rate about three times higher than other American women.  This information would further support and solidify the connection between abortion and pre-term birth. 

It is important to fully understand the dangers of pre-term birth to appreciate how important it is to disseminate this information.  According to LifeNews, pre-term birth is the second most frequent cause of infant mortality in the industrialized world after congenital anomalies.  Pre-term infants are also at greater risk for chronic lung disease, sensory deficits, Cerebral Palsy, cognitive impairments, and behavioral problems.  Women must understand that getting an abortion not only ends the life of that baby, but threatens the life and health of any future babies they might have.  Abortion centers are not required by any law to share the connections between abortion and pre-term birth and it is not common practice for them to do so. 

The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology has done a great service to women by publishing and confirming the connection between abortion and pre-term birth.  While the article could have stressed the connection and consequences a little more, it is, nonetheless, an important step forward.  It is essential that women understand that abortion has long-term consequences for them and any children they might conceive in the future. 

Read more about abortion and pre-term labor:

Ertelt, Steven.  “Medical Journal Confirms Abortion Associated With Increased Premature Birth.”  LifeNews.  18 Aug 2010.  http://www.lifenews.com/nat6644.html