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In Canada, the anti-abortion lobby is fighting a losing battle. We’re not going to have a more right-wing or more religious government leader than Stephen Harper and he has said repeatedly that he’s not going to pursue any change to the legal status of women’s reproductive rights.

They continue to fight, however, and some of them still fight dirty.

A few days ago, I came across an alarmist blog reference to an after-effect of abortion which I hadn’t seen before. It involves future pregnancies of women who have had one or more abortions. I went looking for further information and I found this in The Daily Mail (UK). The headline reads: “Women who have just one abortion face 35% increased risk of having a premature baby.”

The story says a study was undertaken to find reasons for low-weight and premature births and it wanted to determine whether previous abortions could be a factor. It then says:

The authors of the review, published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, say there could be several reasons for their findings — the most likely of which is physical damage to the cervix caused by older methods of abortion.

The author of the review, Dr Prakesh Shah, of the paediatrics department at the at Mount Sinai hospital in Toronto, said: ‘When a woman comes for induced termination of pregnancy, she should be counselled about that risk.

‘At least she will be able to make an informed choice.’

The so-often reprehensible uses the more sensational headline, “Second Abortion Increases Risk of Premature Babies 93%” but goes on to report:

Far from recommending that women not have abortions, the lead author of the study, Dr. Prakesh Shah of the department of paediatrics at Mount Sinai hospital in Toronto, said that the solution is to improve abortion techniques.

However, “when a woman comes for induced termination of pregnancy, she should be counselled about that risk. At least she will be able to make an informed choice,” he said.

Shah told media that he was fearful that “anti-abortion groups” would seize upon the study as proof of the damage abortion does to women.

“I think it should not be used as a way of saying, this is bad and we should not be doing this kind of thing. There is an association which we should be aware of, and we should let mothers be aware. I don’t want unintended pregnancies to increase.”

The Guardian newspaper reports that the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists concurs. The RCOG spoke of the “importance of support for women’s choices.” “Abortion remains an essential part of women’s healthcare services,” they said.

Who could have predicted that I would be able to commend on their reasonably accurate — if slightly testy — coverage of a study whose author’s conclusions must be discouraging for them? I was quite surprised.

I am less surprised that some of their blogging disciples are misinterpreting-by-omission when they refer to this study and will no doubt use Dr. Shah as one of their authorities as they continue to go about trying to make other women’s life decisions.

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