Saturday, April 2, 2016

Mr. Trump and abortion

A few weeks ago. I blogged about abortion. Now that Mr. Trump has raised the topic as a political issue, this seems a good time to talk about it again.

Mr. Trump has a lot of strange ideas, but his off-the-cuff statements about women needing to be punished for getting an abortion, or that a doctor needs to go to jail for seeing that an abortion is done safely, are among his worst. I believe he would be a disaster as President from his first day in the Oval Office and onward.

First of all, a woman's Constitutional right to an abortion has already been affirmed by the Supreme Court 43 years ago in a non-political (7 to 2) decision under the 14th Amendment.

Secondly, availability of non-prescription drugs to prevent a pregnancy, or to end an early pregnancy (“morning-after pill”) have made a doctor's assistance usually unnecessary, except in an advisory role. If you believe life starts at the moment of conception, I understand your reluctance to end the pregnancy (even though not even the earliest beginnings of nerves or brain structure have taken place until the beginning of the third week.)

But prevention of pregnancy – contraception - where the male sperm has no opportunity to unite with the female egg, is not difficult. Any couple in a marriage or a relationship can decide how many babies they want and and are able to support. Family planning need not involve abortion at all. With some thought ahead of time, it is not hard to prevent pregnancy, and then there is nothing to abort. Here are several ways how:

Most effective prevention (rates less than one unintended pregnancy per 100 women per year): (rates reported are from U.S. Department of Health)

Implant. A doctor or nurse practitioner places a small plastic device (usually under the skin of an arm) that supplies a hormone that prevents the release of eggs from the woman's ovaries. It is good for about 5 years, but can be removed earlier if the woman decides to have another pregnancy. (Failure rate 0.05 % )

IUD (Intra uterine device) A doctor or nurse practitioner inserts a plastic device into the uterus. This prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus (the egg normally has passed through the tube from the ovary to the uterus and implants there about the sixth day after conception, so technically it does end life, even though the fertilized egg is still a tiny clump of cells not yet having the form of a human.) Failure rate less than 1%.

Tube Tie in the woman, or Vasectomy in the male partner. This is surgery by a doctor, for couples who decide they already have all the children they want, but still want to continue having sex. It can be undone by more surgery, but that's more expensive. Failure rate about 0.5% in women; in men less than about 0.2% (and can be done as an outpatient.)

Methods not quite as effective, but lots better than no prevention at all:

Injection of Depo-Provera in arm or butt: Once every three months (first shot in first 6 days after menstrual period begins. Most women have no menstrual periods while on these shots, but they resume after stopping treatment. (But pregnancy can happen if your shot is only a few days late - get it on time!) Failure rate about 6%

The Pill or the Patch: Taken daily: menstrual period will appear each month while on the “blank” row of pills. Failure rate about 9% .

Diaphragm: Failure rate about 12%

Male Condom: Failure rate said to be 18% possibly from not using one every time (but a condom is the only way to prevent sex-transmitted diseases.)

Most other methods: including withdrawal, spermicides, “rhythm” etc. Failure rate is more than 20%. Using no method but hope? It varies according to overall health, and maybe other factors, but in most cases “unprotected sex” probably has a failure rate of more than 50% . i.e. another baby every two years or oftener.

The world-wide effects of population growth are yet another reason for avoiding unwanted pregnancy, World population is now growing (births minus deaths) at a rate of over 80 million new people per year. More on that in another blog-post. Meanwhile, Google the World Population Clock, and/or US population growth.