NC education bill on abortion-preterm birth link sparks selective outrage from NARAL

NARAL not exactly authoritative.

(Photo credit: sjcockell on Flickr)

(Photo credit: sjcockell on Flickr)

Yesterday, the North Carolina state Senate passed legislation requiring sex education to warn students, as SB 132’s text puts it, “about the preventable causes of preterm birth in subsequent pregnancies, including induced abortion, smoking, alcohol consumption, the use of illicit drugs, and inadequate prenatal care.” Naturally, the state chapter of NARAL is incensed about this display of “anti-choice indoctrination”:

“Tonight, the Senate passed SB 132 by a vote of 38-10. The bill that would force educators to mandate that lies about abortion be included in our state sex-education curriculum, ” said Suzanne Buckley, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina.  “NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina applauds the 10 Senators opposed SB 132, which, even in its amended form, aims to teach NC’s young people an extreme ideological opinion rather than science,” Buckley continued.

Last week, lawmakers amended SB 132, and inadvertently made an already horrific bill even worse.  SB 132 now stipulates that students be taught abortion is one of a group of factors that can cause to preterm delivery later in life. “The amended language of the bill implies that abortion is a scientifically proven to cause pre-term delivery. Top medical authorities (the CDC, the WHO, and the AMA) agree that there is no established link between abortion and pre-term delivery; this bill is more than misleading, it’s political propaganda,” Buckley added.

Admittedly, this is a claim I haven’t seen a great deal of and am not extensively versed in the evidence for or against, but a preliminary search reveals that this isn’t something pro-lifers just made up. In 2007, TIME reported that the (at the time) largest and most thorough study of its kind found that “[w]omen who had had one, two or three prior abortions or miscarriages were three, five and nine times more likely, respectively, to have a low-birth-weight child,” leading co-author Tilahun Adera of Virginia Commonwealth University to confidently declare, “It’s not just an association. The risk of premature birth increases with the increasing number of abortions.”

In 2012, the New York Times reported on another study which found that, after “controlling for smoking, a history of miscarriage, socioeconomic level and other factors,” the “very preterm birth risk” (28 weeks or earlier) “increased with the number of previous abortions a woman had had: a 19 percent increase after one abortion, 69 percent for two, and 278 percent for three.”

In February of this year, researchers at McGill University in Montreal found a “a significant increase in the risk of preterm delivery in women with a history of previous induced abortion. This association was stronger with decreasing gestational age.”

Note well that the first two examples come from two of the nation’s leading, shall we say, non-conservative publications. For those willing to consider what pro-life experts have to say on the subject, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists has much more here.

Yes, the studies have caveats, and other studies found different results, but that’s inevitable in science. The bill certainly doesn’t tell “lies about abortion”; it fairly characterizes abortion as one of many possible contributors to premature birth. And before we decide that NARAL’s “because these authorities say so!” suffices to end the conversation, it’s worth noting that all three of the “top medical authorities” they cite have been caught politicizing medicine, including on the subject of abortion (see, for instance, the American Medical Association here and here, the Center for Disease Control here and here, and the World Health Organization here and here).

Lastly, it’s more than a little perverse to see an abortion advocacy group lecture anyone about injecting “political propaganda” into the classroom and substituting “an extreme ideological opinion” for science. In the pro-choice world, that’s universally embraced standard operating procedure. From their online resources to the classroom to clinics across the country to the highest office in the land, abortion fans lie about every aspect of embryology and abortion, and promote a promiscuous lifestyle while misleading students about its safety. So the people of North Carolina would be more than justified in deciding NARAL’s moral indignation is less than authoritative in deciding how to educate their children.

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