Book Review

** By Frances Philips Catholic Herald**

A book produced by the deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research in Toronto: Complications: Abortion’s Impact on Women, by Angela Lanfranchi, Ian Gentles and Elizabeth Ring-Cassidy. Its focus is on abortion generally, rather than the eugenic abortion of disabled babies – “life not worthy of life” you might say – though there is a chapter on “Prenatal testing and abortion for foetal abnormality” which indicates that women in this category still suffer post-traumatic stress symptoms and symptoms of depression after abortion, alongside mothers who abort healthy babies.

Whenever any research is published on the subject of abortion’s effect – emotional, psychological, physical – on women, there is always a huge outcry from the pro-choice lobby. Indeed, this lobby is so powerful, so mainstream, so determined to see abortion as simply an unpleasant but necessary lifestyle choice that it is very hard to have a rational, dispassionate debate on the question of its possible negative outcomes. That is why this book should be read – especially by those outside the hardened feminist and political lobby, who are genuinely open to arguments from the other side.

The book has drawn on over 650 published studies from international medical and psychological journals that challenge the unexamined popular notion that abortion is safe. In its 21 chapters it includes subjects as diverse as the link between abortion and infertility; the link between abortion and mental health; the role of abortion in partner violence; abortion and sex selection; and premature and preterm births after abortion.

The saddest chapter, inevitably, is the last: “Women’s Voices” – the testimonies of women who have had abortions, sometimes decades earlier, and how their sorrow and regret has dominated and overshadowed their subsequent lives. Why does the pro-choice lobby brush aside these mourning and eloquent witnesses to an inconvenient truth: that for countless women abortion is not the simple, easy solution to an unwanted pregnancy that it is made out to be?

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