I would like to address the rhetoric that we hear reported through our news media regarding the “war on women” which conservatives are supposedly instigating. Conservatives are generally labeled with this accusation because of the pro-life stance with which the Republican Party aligns. But the pro-life position actually protects women’s health against the negative effects of abortion.
A pamphlet titled The Top Ten Myths About Abortion, compiled by FRC’s William L. Saunders, Cathy Cleaver Ruse, and Lucia Papayova, contains research findings about the effects of abortion on women. This research has debunked the myth that abortion is a “good” medical procedure for women. According to the pamphlet, physical complications from an abortion “include cervical lacerations and injury, uterine perforations, bleeding, hemorrhage, serious infection, pain, and incomplete abortion. Risks of complications increase with gestational age.” Physical complications can also arise with the abortifacient RU-486. Risks include hemorrhage, infection, and missed ectopic pregnancy.
This pamphlet also notes some of the key psychological effects associated with abortion. A New Zealand research team compiled data from a 25-year period and “found conclusively that abortion in young women is associated with increased risks of major depression, anxiety disorder, suicidal behaviors, and substance dependence.” This is the most exhaustive research ever conducted regarding abortion. Other studies suggest a substantial evidence of connection between induced abortion and both substance abuse and suicide. Women may also experience anxiety, anger, flashbacks, guilt, grief, denial, and relationship problems. These symptoms are generally identified as Post-Abortion Syndrome, a subset of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Adolescents who have had abortions, compared to those who have given birth, report more sleeping problems, frequent marijuana use, and increased need for psychological counseling.
It is clear that abortion is a dangerous choice for women. A woman’s likelihood of having an abortion increases when she or her child’s father grew up in a non-intact family and is not religious. It decreases, however, when the woman or her child’s father grew up in an intact married home and makes religious attendance a regular part of life (see MARRI research here, here, and here). Conservatives, who tend to be pro-marriage and pro-religion as well as pro-life, are not waging a war on women. On the contrary, they may be women’s best allies in this fight.