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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 9. 1963.

Medical Hazards Of . .

Medical Hazards Of . . .

Abortion is an unpleasant, and sometimes risky, operation. In a paper in the N.Z. Medical Journal, P.C. Stichbury reports that no doctor likes performing it. He says that such feelings of repulsion have frequently been published and commented upon by gynaecologists.

There are immediate risks of haemorrhage, sepsis, and perforation of the uterus. And in the long term, the woman who is aborted faces possible infertility, scar on the uterus, and psychological damage.

There is no currently available orally administered drug that can terminate a pregnancy without danger to the mother. Most of them cause intoxication of both foetus and parent. The foetus may die first, but there is no certainty of the mother's safety.

Dr. Stichbury says Scandinavians have produced alarming mortality rates among perfectly healthy young women. (Abortion is more widely available legally in Scandinavia than New Zealand.)

A report in the British Medical Journal, 1938, considers the cases of 350 women admitted to hospital for treatment for complications arising from abortion. It was estimated that 40 per cent of these cases were procured, i.e., illegal, abortions. The rest were probably spontaneous. Of the total, 20 per cent were extremely ill, and 3 per cent died. No figures for a comparable sample at a more recent date were available, but they would probably show the effects of recent advances in medical research.

There are some figures taken from a smaller sample at Dunedin Hospital (Stitchbury, op. cit.), but they do not include all cases, due to difficulties in filing systems. Of a total 80 cases, none was reported to have died.