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Sunday, February 23, 2003

Sad article in Saturday's Washington Post about the high rate of infertility in Russia:

"About 5 million -- or 13 percent -- of Russian married couples are infertile, and doctors report that diagnoses of infertility are on the rise. In nearly three out of four cases, infertility is attributed to the woman, typically because of complications from one or more abortions, according to Serov and other health experts."

In this lengthy article, no doctors are quoted who dispute the idea that "one or more abortions" can lead to infertility. No pro-choice activists are quoted claiming that this is a myth propounded by those bad anti-choice activists.

I went to the website of the National Abortion Federation which calls itself The Voice of Abortion Providers. I typed in "infertility" in their search engine and got back, "Sorry, no matches were found."

I went to Harvard's Global Reproductive Health Forum which has one link on this, to a website sponsored by the Religious Tolerance foundation. This page, last updated on October 10, 2002, concludes that "infertility arising from an abortion is a hoax, like the cancer and post abortion syndrome scares."

The Washington Post article features a young woman who had one abortion and now appears to be infertile:

"Now 30, she has all but given up her hopes of having a baby. "It is so terrible to wait every month and be disappointed," she said over a Greek salad in a downtown restaurant. "I was too young. I did not realize how big a problem an abortion could be."

Update A: The rate of abortion is much higher in Russia than in the United States. A Russian woman is much more likely to be multiply post-abortive than is an American woman. How would the abortion/infertility connection that we see in Russia carry over to what we might say about the infertility risk in general?

My best guess is that if multiply post-abortive women have a significantly higher infertility problem than do women who have never experienced an abortion, it is most likely the case that one (safe, legal, first trimester) abortion increases your odds of infertility by a small percentage. Let's say 2%. A second abortion would perhaps increase it by 4-5%, and a third, fourth, etc. abortion would increase your risk of infertility by perhaps 20-30%.

Pro-life groups might consider pushing for legislation to study this link, and they might also consider pushing for informed consent legislation that requires abortion doctors to provide information about this risk.

Update B: See lively discussion about this in a comment box on Mark Shea's blog.



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