A Woman's Right to Know
by Dr. Pamela Eleashia Smith
Having a choice is obviously something that means a lot to most Americans. However, there are consequences and responsibilities that come along with every choice that we make.
If you choose to have an abortion, even if it's at an early stage of pregnancy, the risks associated with this choice include bleeding, injury to the bowel, injury to the urinary tract, infection, and possible problems with having children in the future. Obviously, the further along in the pregnancy you are, the higher your chances are to have these types of problems.
For your own safety, you should also know whether or not the doctor that does your abortion lives in your town and, if he or she doesn't, whom you need to call in case you have a problem. In addition, you should know if the clinic you are using can handle emergencies.
Obviously, those of us associated with Feminists for Life would want to encourage you to choose life for your baby, and we fully recognize that such a choice affects a woman in an entirely different way than it does a man or any other member of the family.
But women have a right to know that the consequences of submitting themselves to abortion procedures can be medically as well as emotionally devastating, and so we urge you to be truly informed about your options and the possible consequences of the decision to have an abortion.
How Pregnancy "Changes" the Uterus
The uterus, or womb, is essentially a large, stretchable muscle. When a woman becomes pregnant, the female hormones (called estrogen and progesterone) make the uterus relax and the muscles very soft. Unfortunately, this effect also makes it very easy to accidentally "poke a hole" in the womb if someone puts an instrument inside of it or tries to remove something from inside of it.
The type of injury one is at risk for during an abortion procedure depends on the place of the injury, or in most cases, where the hole, or perforation, is made.
Most of the blood supply to the uterus is located on the sides. If an injury occurs where the bottom part of the womb (the cervix) meets the top part of the womb (the corpus), there is a possibility of severe blood loss as well as damage to the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder (this tube is called the ureter).
The uterine corpus, or the "top part of the womb," does not have the same concentration of blood vessels as the sides do. However, the bowel is frequently hanging over the uterus in this area and can literally be pulled down through the vagina should a perforation occur here with a suction cannula (suction cannulas are tube-like instruments that are used in abortions). Such a complication may require that parts of the bowel be removed, or it could result in an infection that could block your tubes and make it hard for you to get pregnant in the future. Complications of infection or bleeding can occasionally be so bad that the woman requires a hysterectomy (or removal of the womb) to correct the problem.
Another anatomical structure that is extremely important to a woman's reproductive future is the internal os. The internal os is an opening that is surrounded by a strong ring of tissue and is located where the lower part of the womb (the cervix) meets the top part of the womb (the corpus). The tissue of this area is so strong that normally this is the area that keeps pregnancy inside while the baby is growing. It is also the area that is softened, naturally, over a long period of time by a woman's labor pains.
If the strength of this tissue is destroyed every time a woman gets pregnant she will have a miscarriage and will not be able to carry a pregnancy to term. Since in every abortion the bottom of the womb is forcefully dilated in order to get to the baby inside, there has been concern, and many reports in medical literature, that women who have the bottom part of their wombs stretched during the process of abortion are more likely to have miscarriages when they become pregnant in the future.
For those of you who would like to read some of the articles that talk about this as well as document the increased risk of miscarriage for women who have abortions, I would refer you to the following medical studies:
Finally, some of you may be aware that recently there have been reports that link breast cancer with abortion. Since abortion has been legal for over 20 years, and sometimes it takes 20 to 30 years for a cancer to develop, this link is just starting to surface. More research is needed, especially since so many women have abortions every year coupled with the fact that so many women also die from breast cancer.
The Importance of Making an INFORMED CHOICE
Sometimes people feel that things like informed consent and waiting periods were laws made by people who want to "hassle women" or take away their "reproductive freedom". Nothing could be further from the truth.
I would invite you to read chapters 14, 15, and 18 of a book entitled Public Health and Law by Tom Christoffel. This book will help you understand why these things are necessary to protect the health and rights of American citizens.
We are reminded that in the not-so-distant past American citizens were "tricked" into participating in research experiments being performed by doctors and other people in the health industry. Women were also forced to have tubal ligations that were encouraged by people like Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, who firmly believed that certain people in our country should not be allowed to have children.
The Tuskegee experiment is a grim reminder that even though doctors and other people connected with the medical profession have been granted a great deal of trust and privilege in our society, there have been times when that trust was betrayed and innocent citizens were caused irreparable harm. (For those of you who do not remember, the Tuskegee experiment was carried out on a group of black men who were known to have syphilis during a period of time when an antibiotic cure was readily available. They were told, however, that they had "bad blood" instead and denied access to medicines so that researchers could observe what would "naturally happen" if they didn't treat their disease.)
Informed consent and waiting periods were not designed to take away anyone's rights, constitutional or otherwise, but to insure that when people do make important medical decisions, they have been told the truth and have been truly informed.
Women, after all, have a right to know.
Dr. Pamela Eleashia Smith is a medical doctor, board certified in the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology (OBGYN). She has public health training and eleven years of clinical experience in a community-based family health care practice. Dr. Smith says, "As a member of Feminists for Life, it is an honor and privilege to share with all of you basic information that will enable you to make a truly informed choice should you, or a loved one, be considering abortion as an option for a pregnancy."E-mail this page to a friend
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