A report calling the practice of abortion in the U.S. a safe procedure was published last week, causing multiple critics to question the accuracy of its findings.
The study, “The Safety and Quality of Abortion Care in the United States”, was conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. It ultimately concluded that abortions offered within the U.S are safe medical procedures.
“I would say the main takeaway is that abortions that are provided in the United States are safe and effective,” stated Ned Calonge, co-chair of the committee which authored the report, according to NPR.
However, Dr. Donna Harrison, executive director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said that abortion is never safe.
“Abortion is not safe for women. Safe means free from risk, free from harm. And abortion harms women,” Harrison told CNA, adding that “abortion is never safe for the unborn child. It is lethal for the unborn child.”
Harrison said that abortion is harmful to women on a number of different levels. First, it can “harm women physically by damaging their uterus, and causing them to have pre-term birth in subsequent pregnancies.”
While the study, approximately 200 pages in length, also reported that complications due to abortions are “rare,” Harrison highlighted a number of risks that are associated with the practice.
“Abortion can harm women immediately with the risks of bleeding and damage to their womb and other pelvic organs,” she said, also underscoring long-term effects such as harming women “psychologically, increasing their risk of suicide, drug abuse, and hospitalization from depression.”
Other harms, such as an increased risk for breast cancer, are also very real, according to Harrison, since abortion affects the maturity of breast tissue development, prematurely halting the production of milk and making the tissue more susceptible to cancer.
However, the report claimed that abortion does not effect a woman’s well-being or overall health, saying there is no evidence that breast cancer follows abortion.
“A politically motivated study doesn’t change the reality that abortion hurts women,” Harrison said.
The study also made claims that some state laws which regulate the practice of abortion can cause a road block to “safe and effective care.”
The report pointed to various state laws which require doctors to notify their patients about the risk of breast cancer when receiving an abortion, or requiring a 24-hour waiting period before going through with the procedure. Other states require an ultrasound before an abortion, while some states only allow physicians to perform the termination.
These regulations, according to the study, hinder the effectiveness of abortion and could “put the patient at greater risk of an adverse event.”
Abby Johnson, president of the pro-life organization “And Then There Were None,” said these state requirements “are not a hardship” and would not cause additional harm to the mother.
“None of the provisions made by the states, who have the right to regulate abortion, are to make abortion unsafe or inaccessible,” Johnson noted.
“Any surgery requires pre-op. Abortion should be no different,” she continued.
The study also made claims that nurse practitioners should be able to perform the procedure, saying it would not be necessary for the termination to be strictly performed by a licensed physician.
However, Harrison called this casual view of a significant medical procedure “irresponsible,” according to NPR.
“The tendency to look at abortion as though it were not a serious medical procedure is irresponsible,” Harrison said.
Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life of America, noted some discrepancies in the report’s findings.
Hawkins said “there is no national reporting law requiring that the outcome of abortion be tracked.” In fact, Hawkins noted that all abortion data within the U.S. is voluntarily reported by the abortionists themselves, which could leave room for a significant bias in overall reporting.
“One must assume that the public relations gloss on the report covers up the reality that we can’t determine all the harms of abortion in the United States because we only know what abortionists want to tell us,” Hawkins said in a recent press release.
“What we have is the word of abortion partisans, and not real, verifiable data,” Hawkins continued, saying, “if abortion is so safe, then let’s have a national abortion reporting law that tracks all abortions and all abortion outcomes.”