an After abortion

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Monday, December 6, 2004

Cat's away.

Right before I left last Thursday to enjoy a rare weekend out-of-town with my husband, I wrote this quick rejoinder to a Washington Post piece on Rep. Henry Waxman's new and controversial report about abstinence education programs.

When I got back, I saw that much had transpired, including thousands of visitors to this blog because of links from The Corner and Andrew Sullivan.

I also see in a few emails from Annie that Andrew Sullivan wrote her a few intemperate emails, which Annie can share on the blog if she feels so inclined.

Our main point about the Waxman report, and the Washington Post article based on it, has to do with whether there's a link between abortion and infertility, or a link between abortion and suicide, although there are apparently lots of other objections one might make to the Waxman report. Similarly, I'm sure that there are many objections one might make to various sex ed curricula out there.

We've educated our kids through a combination of parochial school, public school and homeschooling The democratic process was not designed to pick textbooks. I'm an ardent advocate of school choice legislation so that poor and middle-class parents will have the wide range of choice about how to educate their kids that only rich parents currently have.

Back to abortion and its aftermath. The Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web column noted last Friday what we noted on Thursday--namely, that the Washington Post was sending out mixed messages on the abortion/infertility connection.

In today's Best of the Web, they follow up on this, as follows:

Who's Misleading Whom?--II

In an item Friday, we juxtaposed two Washington Post stories. The first, from last week, reported on a claim by congressional Democrats that abstinence-education programs were providing "misleading" information--specifically, that abortion can cause sterility. The second, from last year, reported that abortions in the Soviet Union have "led to widespread infertility" in post-Soviet Russia.

Reader Carl Friddle says the Soviet experience isn't apropos: "Russian abortions were typically performed without anesthesia and under horrific conditions in an effort to discourage them. You simply can't compare them with American abortion practices."

Fair enough, but here's what our own National Institutes of Health list as risks of surgical abortion:

Excessive bleeding
Infection of the uterus
Infection of the fallopian tubes (which can cause scarring and interfere with fertility (infertility)
Puncture (perforation) of the uterus, or damage to the cervix (rare)
Emotional or psychological distress
We don't know where reader Carl Friddle is coming from, or what evidence exists to support his viewpoint. We have no reason to believe that there was any effort in Russia to discourage abortions by making them as horrific as possible. If that's true, the effort was a massive failure, since Russian women have, on average, seven abortions.

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