The Statistical Link between Abortion and Prematurity

By Eva Murphy, former Legislative Director

teeny-tiny-baby.jpgThis issue interests Massachusetts Citizens for Life because of our concern for mothers and their babies. We have learned that prior induced abortion increases the risk of premature births. In 2007 the Institute of Medicine, a unit of the National Academy of Sciences (U. S.), published a textbook on premature birth, in which were listed fourteen “immutable medical risk factors associated with preterm birth.” Third on that list is “Prior first trimester induced abortion.” (See Preterm Birth: Causes, Consequences, and Prevention (2007), Appendix B: “Prematurity at Birth: Determinents, Consequences, and Geographic Variation.”)

In 2009 two major studies (see below) confirmed added risk of premature birth among women who had undergone prior induced abortions. Both of these studies represent “settled science” because they are systematic reviews with meta-analysis.

Studies have also been conducted on the increased incidence of cerebral palsy among children born prematurely. Complications: abortion’s impact on women (Toronto, ON: de Veber Institute, 2013) by Dr. Angela Lanfranchi was published in December 2013. The conclusions were based upon estimates of 15,000 very-low birth-weight newborn babies later diagnosed with cerebral palsy due to their mothers’ prior induced abortions.

Another cause of premature births is incomplete cervix or cervix insufficiency. Abortion, especially the dilation and curettage method, can damage the cervix and make subsequent pregnancies at risk for prematurity. The statistics for cervix insufficiency among African-Americans have increased to rates higher than among other ethnic groups. See for example the Massachusetts report card from the March of Dimes. African-Americans are known to experience higher abortion rates than other ethnic groups, which would help explain the higher rate of cervix insufficiency.

We urge you to become informed on this issue. If you would like more information about premature births and abortion, feel free to contact us.

  1. Swingle HM, Colaizy TT, Zimmerman MB, Moriss FH. “Abortion and the risk of subsequent preterm birth: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” J Reproductive Medicine, 2009; 54: 95-108.
  2. Shah PS, Zao J. “Induced termination of pregnancy and low birthweight and preterm birth: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2009; 116:1425-1442.
  3. The American Association of ProLife Obsetricians and Gynecologists, with videos of current issues
  4. The deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research
  5. Mooney, Brent (Msc), “Fear mongering & brain damaged babies,” Justice for Kids News Bulletin, 13 November 2013 (Brent Rooney is Research Director, Reduce Preterm Risk Coalition (Vancouver, Canada))