Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Georgia On My Mind

Feministing takes a closer look at Georgia and shines the light on attempts to legislate informed consent and medical care:

  • Senate Bill 77 and House Bill 197 would require physicians to give women seeking abortion information on the medical risks of abortion, the probable gestational age and development of a fetus, fetal pain and alternatives to abortion, including adoption. It would require women to wait 24 hours after receiving the information before proceeding with an abortion. The bill also would require that only a parent or legal guardian be notified when a minor younger than 18 seeks an abortion. Currently, Georgia law allows certain people, such as a grandparent or other relative caring for the minor, to act as a stand-in for a parent or legal guardian.

    ...

  • Senate Bill 93 would outlaw abortion in Georgia, with no exceptions for rape or incest.


  • With all due respect to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), I just couldn't believe they summarized Senate Bill 93 accurately. So, I read the bill (House Bill 93) and, I must say, I stand corrected. Actually, AJC's characterization of the bill errs on the side of caution. The fact that there's no exception for rape or incest is but the tip of the iceberg:

    We know that life begins at conception.

    ...

    (1) Justice Blackmun, writing for the majority in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), wrote: 'when those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of mańs knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer [to the question of when life begins].' Now, 30 years later, the General Assembly knows the answer to that difficult question, and that answer is life begins at the moment of conception;

    ...

    (3) Even if the answer to the question of when life begins were unclear, the Georgia Constitution, at Article I, Section I, Paragraph II, provides: 'Protection to person and property is the paramount duty of government and shall be impartial and complete. No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws.' Because a fetus is a person, constitutional protection attaches at the moment of conception. It is therefore the duty of the General Assembly to protect the innocent life that is currently being taken;


    [Logic, people! Is the answer to the question clear, or isn't it?]

    (4) As a direct result of three decades of legalized abortion on demand, the nation has seen a dramatic rise in the incidence of child abuse and a dramatic weakening of family ties, with the infamous Roe v. Wade decision pitting mothers against their children and women against men;


    [Where is the evidence for a direct link between elective abortion and the incidence of child abuse and weakening of family ties? And how are the terms (e.g., weakening of family ties) defined?]

    (5) Studies of the three decades since Roe v. Wade have revealed that women have been deeply wounded psychologically, with one researcher reporting that 81 percent of the women who have had an abortion had a preoccupation with an aborted child, 54 percent had nightmares, 35 percent had perceived visitation with an aborted child, and 96 percent felt their abortion had taken a human life;

    (6) Studies have shown that women who have had an abortion require psychological treatment of such symptoms as nervous disorders, sleep disturbances, and deep regrets, with 25 percent of one test group of women who have had abortions visiting a psychiatrist while only 3 percent of a control group did so;

    (7) Another random study showed that at least 19 percent of women who have had an abortion suffered from diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder, with 50 percent suffering from many, but not all, symptoms of that disorder, and 20 to 40 percent of the women studied showed moderate to high levels of stress and avoidance behavior relative to their abortion experience;

    (8) Approximately 60 percent of women who have had an abortion and who reported post-abortion trauma also reported suicidal tendencies with 28 percent actually attempting suicide, of whom half attempted suicide two or more times;

    (9) Abortion results in increased tobacco smoking, and women who have had an abortion are twice as likely to become heavy smokers and suffer the corresponding health problems as women who have never had an abortion;

    (10) Abortion is linked to alcohol and drug abuse, with a two-fold increase in the risk of alcohol abuse among women who have had an abortion and a significant increase in drug abuse;

    (11) Most couples find abortion to be an event which shatters their relationship, causing chronic marital troubles and divorce;

    ...

    (13) Thirty years of abortion on demand have resulted in an increase in breast cancer, and a study has shown that women who had an abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy before experiencing a full-term pregnancy may be at increased risk for breast cancer;

    (14) The practice of abortion has had a profound detrimental effect on the health and well-being of the citizens of this state as well as the health of the economy; and


    [Where is the scientific evidence for 5-11, 13, 14?* And it's a "randomized" study, not a "random" study. Big, huge difference between the two.]

    (15) The practice of abortion has caused the citizens of this state an inestimable amount economically including, but not limited to, the costs and tax burden of having to care for individuals and their families for the conditions cited above, as well as a significant reduction of the tax base and of the availability of workers, entrepreneurs, teachers, employees, and employers that would have significantly contributed to the prosperity of this state.


    [Where is the evidence for the costs and tax burden? And if the amount is inestimable, how do we know it's a debit and not a credit? Also, how did abortion cause a significant reduction of the tax base and of the availability of workers, entrepreneurs, teachers, employees, and employers that would have significantly contributed to the prosperity of this state? I'm not sure, but if this refers to the potential of aborted fetuses, where is the evidence that abortion didn't cause a significant increase of the tax base and of the protection from thieves, criminal masterminds, pedophiles, rapists, and murderers? (I'm probably off on this one; it's impossible this would be the level of argument in a piece of legislation.)]

    The depth of misinformation in this bill is too profound for me to believe its proponents are truly familiar with the facts. I understand politicians have agendas, but it's just not possible to be this divorced from basic reality.

    You can read a good review of the abortion/breast cancer politics and studies here (.pdf). And here's the analysis of data from 53 studies (83,000 women).

    The U.S. National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute has this to say about the link between reproductive events (pregnancy, breastfeeding, spontaneous and elective abortion) and breast cancer:

    On March 3, 2003, the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Board of Scientific Advisors and Board of Scientific Counselors reviewed and unanimously accepted the findings of an "Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer Workshop." The workshop, convened by NCI, brought together a cross-section of experts to discuss available scientific data on reproductive events in a woman's life that may impact her subsequent risk of developing breast cancer.

    Some of the population-based findings in the report that were presented as supported by evidence that was well-established were:

  • Early age at first full-term birth is related to lifetime decrease in breast cancer risk.

  • Increasing parity (number of live births) is associated with a long-term risk reduction, even when controlling for age at first birth.

  • The additional long-term protective effect of young age at subsequent term pregnancies is not as strong as for the first term pregnancy.

  • A nulliparous woman (someone who has never given birth to a live infant) has approximately the same risk as a woman with a first term birth around age 30.

  • Breast cancer risk is transiently increased after a term pregnancy.

  • Long duration of lactation provides a small additional reduction in breast cancer risk after consideration of age at and number of term pregnancies.

  • Induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.

  • Recognized spontaneous abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.


  • An interesting aside. We know that having frequent menstrual periods--late age at first full-term birth, low parity/nulliparity, etc.--is associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer. But we don't yet know exactly why having fewer periods reduces the risk. As I note in my book:

    ...the increased number of menstrual cycles increases the breast cells' exposure to the estrogen made by the body. Because estrogen accelerates breast cell activity, there is a greater risk of random genetic errors that can lead to cancer.


    *The literature does not support the contention that abortion causes longterm trauma. I remember last time this came up, Emily sent a link to a list of citations, and the Elliot Institute. I can't find my specific comments, but I do recall the studies I looked at were either off topic, or methodologically flawed. A more detailed analysis of the list by DonP, in the comments to one of Trish Wilson's posts.


    2 Comments:

    At 2:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Line 12 of the proposed amendment to HB93 strikes me as particularly disingenuous in its attempt to claim pro-choice attitudes as 'anti-feminist'. It quotes Susan B. Anthony, a key player in the battle for women's rights in the late 19th and early 20th century, as being opposed to abortion. What they fail to mention is that at that time, abortion was not only dangerous and unregulated, but it was the only contraceptive alternative to abstinence. Her chief concern was with women being pushed into undergoing what was then a very dangerous procedure by their menfolk - a problem that occurs only in the rarest of instances today. Anthony's position on women's reproductive rights was certainly appropriate for it's time, but is simply irrelevant today.

     
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