Doctors, Insurance and Unnecessary Operations
The concerns of doctors, especially obstetricians, about the rising costs of medical indemnity insurance are frequently in the news at the moment. While one has sympathy for an obstetrician who is sued when a baby is unexpectedly disabled, there is another area of this specialty which deserves no sympathy: the abortion industry. The medical profession, and particularly the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (R.A.N.Z.C.O.G.), is culpable for not policing this red light district of medicine. Calling it the brothel area of medical practice is actually somewhat flattering — many would refer to it as "Murder Inc."
If "Murder Inc." sounds too harsh a description of the abortion industry, it should be noted that in the United States abortions could (until President Bush and the Congress recently stopped this practice) be performed right up to the moment of birth, and in Australia also there are many late-term abortions. Many second and third-term pregnancies are aborted using the technique of partial birth abortion. The baby in the mother’s womb is rotated so that it presents feet first. Using forceps to grab the baby's legs, the abortionist drags the body out of the birth canal, except for the head. The abortionist jams scissors into the baby's skull and the scissors are then opened to enlarge the puncture. The scissors are removed and a suction tube is inserted; the baby's brains are suctioned out causing the skull to collapse. The dead baby is then delivered.
The American Medical Association has said this technique is never medically necessary. Indeed it involves some risk to the mother as the infant in utero has to be turned around so that it presents feet first. However, the partial birth technique is used by an abortionist in Queensland for late-term abortions. A clinic in Croydon, Victoria, advertises that it performs abortions up to 19.6 weeks gestation, and that more advanced pregnancies can be terminated in clinics interstate. Even at 19.6 weeks gestation a mother would be aware of her baby’s movements, and the new 3-D/4-D ultrasounds showing fetuses smiling and sucking their thumbs leave little doubt about the humanity of these small infants. A report on the provision of abortion services in Australia funded by our National Health and Medical Research Council (N.H.M.R.C.) stated that abortionists performing late-term abortions would need to be "psychologically robust". Unfortunately very few babies in utero are robust enough to withstand the abortionists’ scalpels.
Profit not Choice
Abortion practitioners have promoted their services as enabling women to exercise "choice", but it is apparent they are far more concerned with their own profits rather than women's autonomy. Abortionists do not provide their services free in contrast to pregnancy support volunteers who spend their own money to help women. In the N.H.M.R.C. report on the provision of abortion services in Australia, practitioners were advised that when using ultrasound to estimate gestational age, the screen should be turned away from the mother because viewing her fetus might cause her to change her mind. (Her baby might attract her maternal instincts). Such a recommendation would be intolerable in other areas of medicine, and would be regarded as evidence of malpractice or negligence.
The 3-D/4-D ultrasound pictures published by Dr. Stuart Campbell, of London, show the babies moving their limbs at 8 weeks, moving more strongly and turning by 12 weeks, curling their toes and fingers at 15 weeks, and yawning at 20 weeks.
Infuriated pro-abortion activists in Europe complain that Dr. Campbell is aiding the attempt to "blur the distinction between a fetus and a newborn infant", prompting U.S. columnist Michelle Malkin to write: "This from the masters of deception who gave us the infamous euphemisms ‘fetal matter’ and ‘uterine tissue,’ that have successfully blurred the distinction between human life and disposable Kleenex for more than three decades."
Planned Parenthood and NARAL-Pro-Choice America, have strongly opposed legislation introduced by Cliff Stearns (Republican, Florida) in the U.S. House of Representatives, which guarantees free ultrasound screens to any woman who visits a non-profit pregnancy center that receives subsidies for Sonogram equipment. This demonstrates that whether in Australia, Europe or the United States, abortion providers are dedicated to making money, not giving women "choice".
Abortion providers have also strenuously opposed President Bush's policy to extend medical insurance coverage to unborn children and their mothers through the Children’s Health Insurance Program for low income families. The abortion industry is allergic to any practical recognition of the unborn child as a human individual.
A Double Standard
In most Western nations, governments impose some minimum level of professional standards. This is particularly so in medicine and surgery, where the doyens of the profession do not lightly tolerate frauds and charlatans. However, a curious anomaly arises in regard to induced abortions, most of which are performed for social, not medical reasons. In no other area of surgery is information deliberately withheld from patients. Indeed for some surgical procedures such as hip replacements, prospective patients are required to watch a video of the operation and the after-care needed, while a voice-over explains the possible outcomes and the risks, including infection. However with induced abortion, information about what exactly is being removed from the patient's body is withheld, or the description is misleading ("blob of tissue," "clots," "products of conception"). How misleading is becoming evident from the new ultrasound pictures of babies in utero smiling, sucking their thumbs and blinking.
All surgery carries some risk, and medical opinion is moving away from performing routine surgery when other options are available. Tonsillectomies and circumcision are no longer as much in favour as they previously were. Reputable surgeons discuss a proposed operation with their patients and explore other options, as surgery is often a last resort. In contrast, whenever any legislation is proposed on giving pregnant women information about alternatives to abortion, or requiring them to view films of fetal development before termination, such legislation is vigorously opposed by abortion practitioners.
Why does the R.A.N.Z.C.O.G. tolerate such anti-information, anti-education tactics by a minority within their specialty? The Royal Australian College of Surgeons would not tolerate a branch of the profession opposing a discussion of alternatives to tonsillectomy, and they would probably investigate a surgeon who had a consistent record of removing healthy appendices or tonsils in ninety-nine per cent of such cases.
Why is the removal of healthy fetuses from healthy wombs, without any exploration of alternatives to this surgery, tolerated by the medical profession? Why indeed does not the R.A.N.Z.C.O.G. exercise even a minimum level of supervision of abortion clinics to ensure that proper standards are maintained?
The contrast between care given to patients with other surgery compared to lack of care given to women presenting for abortion is stark. Ordinarily, surgeons take a medical history and explain all the options — often surgery is not the best treatment and there are less drastic solutions.
Abortionists often do not see their clients before the procedure — aborted women complain they did not even know the abortionist's name and "he wouldn’t look me in the eye" (in one litigated case the only counselling was from a trainee social worker), and unlike other surgery, there is no follow-up. Responsible surgeons see their patients days, weeks and months after their operations, and not the least of the benefits of such follow-up is that the surgeon learns which procedures are successful, which are most beneficial to patients and which have little value. An abortionist does not want to see the client again — not unless she is coming in for another abortion, cash in hand.
Abortionists do not take a family medical history — this is particularly negligent because if there is a family history of depression or mental illness, the woman may fall into the ten per cent category, who, following abortion, are left seriously dysfunctional. There have been several legal settlements in Australia for abortionists’ failure to warn women of the serious psychological trauma they may experience following induced abortion.
If there is family history of breast cancer, the risk of breast cancer following abortion will increase substantially. In the study by ("pro-choice") Janet Daling, University of Washington, 1994, every woman who had an abortion under age 18 and who also had a family history of breast cancer, developed breast cancer by age 45. Abortion clinics in the United States now warn of "possible increased lifetime risk of breast cancer". There have been at least two legal settlements in Australia for failure to warn of increased breast cancer risk, and more are in the pipeline. The first case has also been filed in the United Kingdom.
On the abortion-breast cancer risk the R.A.N.Z.C.O.G. says the data is "inconclusive". Would they recommend anyone get on a plane if the airline stated that 28 studies showing the plane might crash were "inconclusive"? And which insurer would provide coverage? The R.A.N.Z.C.O.G. knows that a woman who has an abortion in her teens or early twenties and then does not have a baby until she is 29 (average age for first births in Australia) has substantially increased her breast cancer risk by delaying her first full-term pregnancy.
Some of the highest damages payouts awarded against obstetricians have been where babies have cerebral palsy. Premature births are one of the major causes of cerebral palsy, and abortion can leave a woman with an "incompetent cervix", resulting in premature birth and cererbral palsy for a subsequent "wanted" baby. If obstetricians want to reduce risks of delivering premature babies, they should outlaw induced abortions.
The Abstract of an article on "Induced Abortion and Subsequent Premature Births" by Canadian researchers, Brent Rooney and Byron C. Calhoun, M.D. in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons [2003;8(2):46-49] reads as follows:
"At least 49 studies have demonstrated a statistically significant increase in premature births or low birthweight risk in women with prior induced abortions. This paper will focus on the risk of early premature births (less than 32 weeks gestation) and extremely early premature births (less than 28 weeks gestation). Large studies have reported a doubling of early premature birth risk from two prior induced abortions. Women who had four or more induced abortions experienced, on average, nine times the risk of extremely early premature birth, an increase of 800 percent. These results suggest that women contemplating induced abortion should be informed of this potential risk to subsequent pregnancies, and that physicians should be aware of the potential liability and possible need for intensified prenatal care.
Informed consent for an elective surgical procedure must generally cover long-term consequences and not just immediate risk. A woman considering an induced abortion should thus expect to be informed of potential effects on her fertility and the health of future infants, as well as her own future health. An elevated risk of bearing a child afflicted with a serious disability such as cerebral palsy might influence her decision, as well as future liability determinations by courts. Low birth weight and premature birth are the most important risk factors for infant mortality or later disabilities as well as for lower cognitive abilities and greater behavioral problems and thus contribute importantly to the liability exposure of obstetricians."
The growing problem of "infertility" and demands for I.V.F., surrogate motherhood, et cetera, are also related to prior abortions.
The "Disclosure and Consent to Medical and Surgical Procedures" form for Termination of Pregnancy or Suction Curretage or Abortion, of the Woman's Choice Quality Health Centre, San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A., reads as follows: "I also realise that the following risks and hazards may occur in connection with this particular procedure and even death: (a) Bleeding with the possibility of requiring further surgery and/or hysterectomy to control, (b) Perforation (holes in) uterus and/or damage to the bladder, bowel, blood vessel, (c) Abdominal incision and operation to correct the injury, (d) Infection of female organs: uterus, tubes, ovaries, (e) Sterility or being incapable of bearing children, (f) Incompetent cervix (g) Failure to remove all products of the conception, (h) Continuation of the pregnancy (i) Depression or "the blues", (j) Post abortion stress syndrome (k) Possible increased lifetime risk of breast cancer."
Under threat of litigation, the abortion industry is belatedly acknowledging the risks of abortion, denied for so long. Abortion is medically unnecessary and it is the joint failure of governments and the medical profession to inform or protect women from abortion trauma that is driving victims to legal redress. By barring pregnancy support helpers from clinic doors, governments and abortionists have connived in preventing women from hearing about other options. (It is as if specialists physically barred women from hearing a second opinion.) Many women have complained — publicly in "letters to the editor" — that they were coerced into having abortions, by their husbands, boyfriend or parents. Funding pregnancy support is not enough — when a frightened teenager or disadvantaged woman presents for abortion is when she needs to hear that other help is available and that surgery is unnecessary. Furthermore, it should not be left to the pro-life voluntary sector to provide all of the pregnancy support services. This should be a government responsibility, like other public health measures. There should be posters on the walls of every abortion clinic (like the wartime posters "Is your journey really necessary?") asking "Is your abortion really necessary?" and detailing what help federal and state governments can offer.
A shutdown of the abortion industry would reduce insurance and litigation costs. Eliminating the Medicare funding of induced abortions would be a good starting point. As Australia's birth rate is below replacement level and there is government concern about the "greying" of the population, there is no compelling national interest in the funding of abortions. Indeed there is a compelling national interest that Australia's birth rate should at least be at replacement level.
If a woman considers that abortion is in her interest in that the birth of a baby will impede her career, then surely if she is going to earn so much that it outweighs the life of her child, she can pay for the abortion herself from current or future earnings. It should not be the responsibility of taxpayers, nor of the government, which should be working to ensure high standards in all areas of medical and surgical practice.
National Observer No. 59 - Summer 2004