Q&A

Camilla Hersh: Untold abortion stories

Q&A
by Marvin Olasky

Posted on Tuesday, January 19, 2016, at 7:55 am

Dr. Camilla Hersh, a board member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, answers questions in WORLD Magazine’s Jan. 23 issue. Here are additional ones concerning press coverage of abortion and what has hardly been covered: the possible link of abortion and breast cancer.

What do you think of coverage of abortion in mainstream media? If it were any other topic it would be very exciting for the press to cover. Complications from abortion are still very serious: bleeding, infection, damaged internal organs. Every year, several women die who have abortions at abortion centers and there’s rarely any provision for continued care at an abortion clinic. So when someone has a complication, they come to an emergency room. In our hospital just six months ago, someone came in who had a late-term abortion and was hemorrhaging. The doctor on call took the patient to an operating room, and she had eight lacerations in her uterus, eight stab wounds. With any procedure we do inside the uterus, there’s a one in 100 to 1,000 chance of perforation. How do you lacerate eight times? The poor woman, she was only 23, had to have a hysterectomy because her uterus was so ruined. She not only lost her baby that she’d aborted. She lost her uterus.

What else gets little coverage? The suicide rate is 40 percent higher in the first year after an abortion. The biggest study that documents this was done in Scandinavia, where they don’t have as many political disagreements about abortion. For every abortion a woman has, her risk of having a premature baby goes up 30 percent. It’s 30 percent higher with the first one, 60 percent with the second. It’s a dose effect. Your doctor should watch for it. You should watch for it. We have a lot of ways to stop a premature birth if we know it’s a risk factor. The complications of prematurity are huge. Does anyone have friends with cerebral palsy? You’ve been in the mall or at church and you see someone who’s in a wheelchair with cerebral palsy. Quite often the brain is working fine and they can be very brilliant, but they’re permanently disabled. Cerebral palsy is one of the worst complications of extreme prematurity. If that could be prevented, even by 50 percent, that should be part of the informed consent process.

What do you make of the link to breast cancer? It does seem that if you end a pregnancy right as the breast cells are rapidly developing in an early pregnancy, and you suddenly stop that development, you have a lot of cells that are at an immature stage, and those cells go dormant and are more likely to be available for precancerous changes. Say a 20-year-old has an abortion. Her mother is 45 and isn’t going to be showing breast cancer till she’s in her early 50s, but if you’ve terminated your pregnancy and your mother has breast cancer, that increases your risk by about 90 percent. Shouldn’t we know the risks? If one out of three of us has had an elective termination and one in eight women will have breast cancer sometime … you should be screened sooner and more frequently. One out of 16 people will have colon cancer, so if your mother or father had colon cancer we screen you sooner—but any risk that occurs with abortion we’re not allowed to hear of, because it’s a political hot topic. 

If someone comes in who’s had a previous abortion and is now pregnant and wants to carry to term, what would you do differently for her? I watch a little more carefully when we hit the time of pregnancy where premature labor occurs. I have her come in a little more often. I check her cervix sooner so that in case she is looking like she may have pre-term labor there are medications we use to enhance the maturity of the baby’s lungs and brain to prevent cerebral palsy. 

Over five days, Jan. 18-22, WORLD’s website is running other responses from Dr. Hersh.

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. His latest book is World View: Seeking Grace and Truth in Our Common Life. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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