Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What does the leaflet actually say?

David Farrar posted the following today: Is there freedom of speech at Auckland University?

Basically what happened is that ProLife Auckland distributed a leaflet on the Auckland University campus. Someone complained anonymously to the Auckland University Students Association that the leaflet was misleading. So AUSA have called a meeting to disaffiliate ProLife Auckland from AUSA.

Now clearly this is an outrageous breach of the right to free speech and fingers crossed the AUSA members will see sense. But everyone has been blogging about that, so I figured I would look at what the leaflet actually said!

First up the leaflet is mainly text, there are no pictures of aborted foetuses so it's intention is not to shock but to inform. However to my eye there are a number of things that may have annoyed people.
Imagine if your sister or a close female friend was about to have an operation. This operation isn't necessary to save her ife, and its effects can never be undone once it is carried out. She goes to a clinic where she is told that this operation will be a quick fix and that it will provide a good outcome to the problem she is facing. But she isn't told the full facts about her condition, or about the risks associated with this operation.
Nothing in this first paragraph is factual, it is all emotive. It carries on in this tone for three paragraphs. Then you have the facts.
Terminating pregnancies can lead to reproductive problems, which can include subsequent premature births, miscarriages or even infertality.
I'm not a medical professional but it is entirely possible these claims are true and I see a family planning doctor has confirmed the increased risk of subsequent premature births to the Herald. However I also wouldn't be surprised if these risks were associated with any operations on a women's reproductive organs.
In the worst case scenario abortion can even cause death to the woman....Although this tragic scenario is something we have not yet seen in New Zealand, recent figures, obtained from the Ministry of Health under the Official Information Act, show that almost 900 New Zealand women were admitted to hospital between 2009 and 2011 for the treatment of complications following their abortions.
It is the worst case scenario in almost every operation that someone may die. However as they say this has never occurred in New Zealand. On the other hand the maternal mortality rate in New Zealand in 2009 was 22 per 100,000 maternities. Which suggests to me that pregnancy is in fact more dangerous than abortion. Between 2009 and 2011 there were 50,000 abortions in New Zealand, with 900 complications that is a rate of 1.8%. I couldn't find any stats on surgery overall, but my doctor flatmate reckons the rate is probably between 1-3%.
Women who obtain abortions are at increased risk of subsequent mental health issues, including major depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and drug and alcohol related problems. Studies also indicate that post-abortive women are three times more likely to commit suicide. This indicates that, for some women, an abortion causes severe and long-lasting psychological suffering.
There are a lot of things that can increase the risk of mental health problems, war for example. ProLife Auckland clearly thinks this means we need to criminalise abortion. I however think it indicates the need to ensure that services are in place to support women following an abortion.
Women also have the right to know about all the different options, not just that of abortion, that are available to them, options which on discussion, may be more beneficial to their personal situation. This shouldn't be about the politicisation of information.
To my mind there are three options available, giving birth and raising the child, giving birth and putting the child up for adoption and having an abortion. I find it hard to believe a woman seeking an abortion is unaware of the other options. And if a woman decides abortion is the right choice for her personal situation to ProLife Auckland support her in that decision?

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