The Issue of Abortion and How It Effects Women's Health

Women’s reproductive rights has remained a topic of wide debate in America for the past two centuries. However, the start of the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s caused abortion to become an ongoing national issue, mostly between two opposing ideologies: pro-life and pro-choice. Both sides have some differing opinions; some pro-life proponents believe abortion should not be allowed under any circumstances, while some believe it is okay in instances of rape, incest, or if the woman’s life is at risk.

Some people who identify as pro-choice believe abortion should not be used as a contraceptive and should only be used as a last resort, while others believe there should be free, legal, unrestricted access to it.

Both sides have their reasons for their beliefs; a common pro-life argument is that abortion is murder because life begins at the moment of conception. Most pro-life arguments are religiously backed though, with proponents insisting that abortion is against the will of God.

In fact, most pro-life organizations are based on religion, such as the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints (Mormon Church) and the Christian Coalition of America.

There are, however, some faith groups that support the pro-choice movement, such as the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church, and the Unitarian Universalist Association. Pro-choice reasoning includes many arguments regarding the mother’s health and financial status. Statistics show that a woman who is denied abortion is more likely to become unemployed, on public welfare, below the poverty level, and to become – or remain – victims of domestic abuse.

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If her financial status is not affected, the mother’s health may be. She may have a pregnancy-related illness, or she may try to have the abortion done illegally.

This is perhaps the biggest health risk regarding abortion: if abortions are outlawed, women in need of them will resort to unsafe, illegal methods. There are illegal abortion clinics where women who cannot, for whatever reason, receive legal abortions will go. The “doctors” at these clinics are usually unprofessional and end up doing more harm than good.

Dr. Jen Gunter states that most back room abortionists only have a cursory knowledge of the reproductive tract, and their rooms don’t have an autoclave to sterilize tools or even basic resuscitation equipment (“When safe abortion isn’t a choice”). Often times, women are sexually assaulted; who is going to tell the police that they were raped at their illegal abortion?

A lot of women end up dying getting these abortions. In “When safe abortion isn’t a choice,” Dr. Jen Gunter details exactly how dangerous an unprofessional operation can be: Maybe their vagina and cervix is cleaned before hand, but maybe not. An instrument is pushed through the cervix by hands that do not know how to atraumatically dilate the opening of the cervix. Too much force is dangerous. The practitioner may not know (or care) that the wall of a pregnant uterus is like butter and any instrument, no matter how soft, is like a knife.

If they can’t navigate the opening of the cervix, or if they haven’t even bothered to look, the instrument is just forced up until there is no more resistance or until the screaming stops. This blind stabbing often leads the instrument to puncture the top of the vagina, weaker than the cervix, traveling alongside the uterus where the major blood vessels are found.

Ultrasound machines are not used. They cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even if one were available, the chance that such a provider would know how to use one is slim. Gestational age is therefore a guess. Unfortunately, knowing about the long bones and skull is crucial in the 2nd trimester. An unskilled hand can easily push splinters or larger pieces through the uterus into waiting bowel and blood vessels.

If blood vessels are transgressed, the bleeding is catastrophic and requires emergency intervention. Many women don’t get to the hospital in time. Who is going to call the ambulance?

It sounds horrible, but many illegal abortionists, such as Kermit Gosnell, will refuse to call an ambulance. According to his Grand Jury transcript, Gosnell was charged with 211 counts of violating the 24-hour informed consent law. When induced labor failed, Gosnell would attempt to surgically abort the fetus, resulting in several of his patients being killed or at least led to near death.

For example, one patient started to have convulsions and fell off the table, hitting her head on the floor. Gosnell refused to call an ambulance, and he would not let the woman’s companion leave the room to call an ambulance. Sometimes the babies would be born alive, breathing. In these cases, many abortionists, including Gosnell, would murder the baby and dispose of the remains in unsanitary ways – in bags, milk jugs, cat-food containers, and orange juice cartoons.

If a woman does not have someone do the illegal, unprofessional abortion for her, she may try to do it herself. The most commonly heard of method is probably the coat hanger. The coat hanger is not sterile and the end is sharp, creating a high risk of laceration and perforation. If she does not bleed to death, the woman will most likely die of infection, especially if she punctures a bowel. She may feel pain and know that she needs medical help but she may not want to ask for it, whether it be because she is ashamed, afraid, or another reason.

Not only do these things affect a woman’s physical health, they affect her mentally as well. Pro-life proponents may argue that having an abortion will increase the risk of a woman developing depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, or eating disorders. According to a study performed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “After accounting for confounding factors, abortion was not a statistically significant predictor of subsequent anxiety, mood, impulse-control, and eating disorders or suicidal ideation” (Steinberg et al. 263)

Despite the facts, many people will still insist that abortion does harm. In “Abortion doesn’t hurt women, but lies about it do,” Dr. Jen Gunter explains that lies and laws about abortion are what hurt women: 11 states have laws that require doctors lie to patients about links between abortion and mental health issues, sequelae that have been disproven by science. Apparently, women have no constitutional right to get evidenced-based care from their providers. Forcing doctors to tell women about a non-existent risk hurts them, because ignoring science is hurtful.

It also could cause unnecessary worry and lead to guilt. Some women who have an abortion will get breast cancer as 33% of American women will have an abortion at some point and 1 in 8 women will eventually develop breast cancer. There is no cause and effect, it’s just having an abortion and getting breast cancer are both not rare events. This is also true for depression. Imagine the pain a women with breast cancer or depression must feel if she previously received a lie about cause and effect wrapped up as counseling? I’d say that’s hurtful.

Generally, more women die from childbirth than from abortion. “Between 1998 and 2005, the pregnancy-associated mortality rate among women known to have delivered live neonates in the United States was 8.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. . . The mortality rate related to legal induced abortion during that same interval was 0.6 deaths per 100,000 abortions” (Raymond 1271).

More specifically, women can experience many health complications during pregnancy. They have a higher risk of developing, among other things, blood clots, hemorrhoids, or, although rarer, cancer. In “Anticoagulant therapy for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in pregnancy,” Che Yaakob et al. explain that when a pregnant woman develops a blood clot in a deep leg vein, the clot can break up and fragments may move and block blood flow to the lungs – a condition that can have serious consequences.

Also, in “Anal fissure and thrombosed external hemorrhoids before and after delivery,” Abramowitz et al. claim that, “One third of females have thrombosed external hemorrhoids or anal fissures in the postpartum period,” and, “Traumatic delivery appears to be associated with thrombosed external hemorrhoids.” A woman should not be forced to go through a “traumatic delivery” for a child she doesn’t want or is not prepared for.

She also shouldn’t have to die of pregnancy-related cancer when she could have an abortion that would save her life. Cancer only occurs in approximately one in every thousand pregnancies but when it does occur, it’s very difficult to treat because some treatments can harm the fetus (“Cancer During Pregnancy”). An article on Fox News titled, “Young mother dies after 2-month battle with rare pregnancy-related cancer” tells the story of 26-year-old Jenna Hinman, who struggled with pregnancy-related cancer for two months.

30 weeks into her pregnancy, she started having trouble breathing and was given an emergency C-section. After her two twin daughters were born, Hinman began coughing up blood and after doctors put her in a medically induced coma, they discovered she was suffering from choriocarcinoma – a cancer that can develop in a pregnant woman’s uterus. Hinman was in a coma for two months before she died.

The deaths of women like Hinman would be prevented if abortion was free, legal, and unrestricted. Women’s health would not be in so much risk because they wouldn’t have to have their abortions performed by unqualified criminals and they wouldn’t have to do it themselves. They wouldn’t have to chance bleeding to death in an effort to keep their life stable. Whether you claim to be pro-choice or pro-life, think about what these women are going through every day.

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The Issue of Abortion and How It Effects Women's Health. (2023, Mar 17). Retrieved from

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