Letters: Pregnancy less risky to women than an abortion

The GP Dr Richard Lyus, has written a letter with factual inaccuracies that have direct relevance to patient welfare (GP, 27 February).

He said: 'Abortion is an extremely safe and straightforward treatment'. Large follow-up studies in Finland, America and the UK (which were challenged but upheld in parliament in 2007) have shown that abortion is more risky than miscarriage.

It is more risky than continuing the pregnancy. The woman is in fact safer in the year following a normal delivery than the year after an abortion. Here is some of the evidence:

A robust Finnish study (Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 1997; 76: 651-7) found that compared with Finnish women who delivered a baby, those who had had an induced abortion have increased mortality - from both natural and unnatural causes.

A study of Californian low-income women confirms the increased mortality associated with induced abortion (Southern Med 2002; 95: 834-41).

Another study from Wales (BMJ 1997; 314: 902) supports a causal relationship between abortion and vulnerability to suicide.

These studies would substantiate the concern of the British Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths (2000-2002) that deaths from suicide after abortion are frequently missed because they occur late after the procedure.

The enquiry was under-reporting abortion-related deaths because its scope was limited to 42 days after birth or abortion. (For suicide it has since been lengthened to six months.)

The Royal College of Psychiatrists amended its advice to patients last year to warn that abortion may well have psychiatric sequelae.

Other medical risks are legion, ranging from sepsis, to premature next deliveries to unnoticed perforation of the womb. The younger the patient means the higher the risk.

Parliament last year voted against easing the legal restrictions on abortion and this will protect women.

It's only a matter of time until doctors or patients are prosecuted for violating the Abortion Act and our reputations will collectively sink lower.

It is time abortionists stopped bringing out time-expired ideas like, 'no scientific justification' against abortion and put in place an evidence-based informed consent service.

Dr Mark Houghton, Sheffield

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