Medical Key Issues - Abortion

Abortion Clinic Staff

In New Zealand, as elsewhere, hospital staff are reluctant to perform second trimester abortions. The psychological effects of performing abortions on the doctors and medical staff, especially nightmares, have contributed to this reluctance. Medical students and junior doctors are seeing abortion as an unexciting field of medicine.

Deaths from Abortion

The computer programme that records deaths, includes deaths that occur following abortion under "maternal deaths resulting from pregnancy." An independent health researcher noted that only a small number of abortion-related deaths actually qualify to be declared under abortion. The figures can erroneously appear to show that pregnancy is more dangerous than abortion.

Doctors & NZ Law

The current practice and application of the abortion law is such that it may expose some medical consultants certifying and performing abortions to criminal proceedings and civil claims.

Foetal Remains

While most aborted foetal tissue is incinerated as medical waste or, in New Zealand sometimes taken home for a burial, some researchers don't see any reason why the remains shouldn't be used for research and even organ and tissue transplants. Opponents of using aborted foetuses for medical experiments claim that it is unethical, cannabilistic and a throwback to Nazi medical experimentation.

Hippocratic Oath

The Hippocratic Oath traditionally separated healers from those who would be more accurately described as sorcerers or witch-doctors. Hippocrates believed that the virtuous doctor must reject any role in killing, and be devoted to the arts of healing. With the legalisation of abortion, most medical schools chose to drop the Oath or administer a more ambiguous one that suited the new era.

Informed Consent

The issue of informed consent presents the medical profession with a conundrum. Professionally, they are obliged to give accurate, current and factual information to their patients, to assist them in making a fully-informed decision. Yet nurses are advised to avoid showing pictures which explain the development of the unborn child because it may make the women feel guilty. Some clinics now make mention of some possible risks such as pre-term births, depression and breast cancer, even though these risks are considered small or unproven.

Chemical Abortions

When referring to chemical abortions, also called 'medical' abortions, most people are talking about prostaglandin or RU 486 (Mifegyne) abortions. Opponents to abortion however also consider the 'morning-after' pill and oral contraceptives as examples of chemical abortions because of their abortifacient action in preventing implantation.

Surgical Methods

The surgical method used to perform an abortion depends largely on the duration of the pregnancy. This is determined by the abortionist. In the 1st trimester the most commonly performed abortion is the vacuum aspiration. Second trimester abortions are usually D&E abortions, where the foetus is dismembered before being removed from the uterus. In 3rd trimester abortions a hysterotomy (caesarian section abortion) is usual where D&X (partial-birth abortions) are not performed.

Follow-up Care After Abortion

A crucial follow-up appointment is made for two weeks after a woman's abortion. While it is very important that she keep this appointment to be sure no complications have arisen, it has been found that a significant proportion of women do not come back for a follow-up visit. The numbers of women who fail to keep their appointment has been found to be as high as 32 percent.


24.3% of women experience complications in future pregnancies. In a New zealand study, from 2879 terminations performed in Christchurch in the study period, there were 167 admissions to Christchurch Women's Hospital with complications. This does not take into account women who sought help elsewhere.

Maternal Deaths from Childbirth

Deaths following an abortion are almost never coded as resulting from the abortion but as a maternal death. By including deaths that occur following abortion in the statistics of maternal deaths resulting from pregnancy, the figures can be significantly inaccurate, making pregnancy seem more dangerous than abortion.


When a woman suffers from depression following an abortion, there is disagreement as to whether it came as a result of the abortion or whether the depression was a pre-existing condition. While the initial reaction is usually relief, sadness and regret often follow. Some researchers, while admitting some women are affected, say that it is about one woman in a hundred. Others believe the numbers of women affected are very much higher.

The Risk of Cerebral Palsy

A previous abortion increases the risk of a later pregnancy resulting in a pre-term birth by as much as 17%. Very low birth-weight babies have 38 times the risk of cerebral palsy as normal birth-weight newborns. The incidence of cerebral palsy is increasing in developed countries, especially following the legalisation or liberalisation of abortion laws.

Risk of Cervical Damage

Cervical damage from previously induced abortions can increase the risks of miscarriage, premature birth, and complications of labour during later pregnancies by 300 - 500 percent. Teenagers are especially at risk as their cervixes are still "green" and developing. Many women suffering cervical damage following an induced abortion, will never be able to carry a "wanted" baby to term.

Risk of Ectopic Pregnancy

Abortion is significantly related to an increased risk of subsequent ectopic pregnancies. Ectopic pregnancies, in turn, are life threatening and may result in reduced fertility. The rise of ectopic pregnancy coincides almost exactly with the steep rise in the frequency of induced abortion during the same period.

Physical Risks

While abortion advocates often make the claim that only illegal abortions are unsafe, opponents claim that the percentage of maternal deaths due to abortion in undeveloped countries is unclear, and often exaggerated. Where abortion has been legalised, however, they claim to know as certainty that legalisation has not made it safe.

Subsequent Pre-term Births

A previous abortion could increase the risk of prematurity by as much as 30 percent in a future pregnancy. Infant mortality has been linked to low birth-weight babies, most of whom are born prematurely, as has cerebral palsy and respiratory problems in infants.

Psychological Problems

Dr. Julius Fogel, a pro-abortion psychiatrist and obstetrician who has performed 20,000 abortions, says, "A psychological price is paid... Something happens on the deeper levels of a woman's consciousness when she destroys a pregnancy." A New Zealand lawyer believes that, by not warning women of possible psychological problems, abortionists could face complaint proceedings for breaches to the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights.