A new sex education curriculum in North Carolina has NARAL Pro-Choice America up in arms.
A bill has been proposed to establish a new curriculum for sex education classes in North Carolina schools. S132, which can be found here, sets guidelines for teachers. Along with requiring students to learn about first aid, nutrition, and drug abuse prevention, the bill requires that students be told that having an abortion can increase the risk of pre-term birth in a subsequent pregnancy. NARAL has mobilized its supporters to oppose allowing student to hear about this risk, denying that it exists.
According to their website:
This bill calls for changes to our school’s health curriculum that have nothing to do with protecting our children’s health, and everything to do with spreading misinformation and stigmatizing abortion[.] … This bill is insulting and endangering. It forces teachers to lie to students. Young people need facts about their health – not political propaganda.
However, despite NARAL’s protests, the link between abortion and premature birth has been well-documented in the medical community.
An article by Brent Rooney, M.Sc.; Byron C. Calhoun, M.D., M.B.A.; and Lisa E. Roche, J.D. tracked premature births among African-Americans. Brent Rooney is the research director of the Reduce Preterm Birth Coalition.
This 2008 article highlighted seven studies showing a “significant” elevated risk of pre-term birth for women who had a prior abortion.
• Moreau C, Kaminski M, Ancel PY, et al: Previous induced abortions and the risk of very preterm term delivery: results of the EPIPAGE study. 2005;112:430-437. Abstract available here.
• Smith GCS, Shah I, White IR, et al. Maternal and biochemical predictors of spontaneous preterm birth among nulliparous women: a systematic analysis in relation to the degree of prematurity. 2006 Int J Epidemiol; 35:1169-1177.
• Lumley J. The association between prior spontaneous abortion, prior induced abortions and preterm birth in first singleton births. Prenat Neonat Med 1998; 3:21-24
• Stang P, Hammond AO, Bauman P. Induced abortion increases the risk of very preterm delivery: results of a large perinatal database. Fertility Sterilit 2005 (Sep): S159.
• Levin AA, Schoenbaum SC, Monson RR, Stubblefield PG, Ryan JA. Association of induced abortion with subsequent pregnancy loss. JAMA 1980; 243: 2495-2499.
• Lumley J. The epidemiology of preterm birth. Bailliere’s Clinical Obstet Gynecology 1993; 7:477-498.
• Behrman RE, Butler AS Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press; 2007: Table B-5. Available here.
In 2012, two more well-researched studies showed a link between abortion and pre-term births. They appeared in the European journals Human Reproduction and The British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The New York Times, a publication not known to be friendly to the pro-life viewpoint, reported on one of them, a study from Finland.
This particular study found that the risk of very pre-term birth (defined as a birth that takes place before 28 weeks) increased by 19% after one abortion, 69% after two abortions, and 278% after three abortions. The researchers also found an increase in births under 37 weeks and low birth weight in women who had had three or more abortions.
The other study was based on research gathered from Scottish women and was publicized in The Telegraph. It found that women who abort their first pregnancies have a significantly greater risk of future pre-term births. According to Prof. Siladitya Bhattacharya:
We found that women who had had a previous induced abortion had a higher risk of a spontaneous pre–term birth in their next ongoing pregnancy, compared with women who had never been pregnant before.
In addition, a Canadian study done in 2013 found that, on average, women who had one prior induced abortion were 45% more likely to have premature births before 32 weeks, 71% more likely to have premature births before 28 weeks, and 117% more likely to have premature births before 26 weeks.
This research was carried out at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at McGill University in Montreal.
Infants born extremely premature suffer a 129-times-higher risk of cerebral palsy than infants born full-term. In fact, one in ten babies born before 37 weeks develops cerebral palsy and/or lung disease. Other health problems linked to pre-term birth include “mental retardation, autism, epilepsy, visual impairment, hearing disability, gastrointestinal injury, respiratory distress, and severe infections.”
Despite all this, NARAL opposes telling students about the very real risk of pre-term birth after an abortion. By rallying its supporters to oppose the truth, NARAL is making a blatant attempt to censor scientific information that can affect the lives of young people and their future children. NARAL, in assuring their supporters that there is no abortion/pre-term births link and calling it “lies” and “propaganda,” are doing no favor for women, much less for their children. Sadly, it is likely that most of NARAL’s supporters will accept the lies NARAL is spoon-feeding them and continue to deny the link between abortion and pre-term births. Pro-lifers need to do all we can to tell the real story.
Thanks to Secular Pro-life, who first broke the story of NARAL and their opposition to the North Carolina curriculum. See their article here.