Dr. Christopher Tietze recommends that if a woman needs an abortion she should obtain it in the 2nd or 3rd month of pregnancy. Data indicate that in the U.S. the risk to health associated with abortion is 3-5 times greater in the 4th-6th month of pregnancy than in the 2nd or 3rd month. In countries such as Hungary and Czechoslovakia where abortions are performed before the 4th month, the number of deaths is far less than in countries like England and Sweden where abortions are frequently performed after the 4th month (1/100,000 as opposed to 18.1 and 25.5/100,000, respectively). Tietze suggests the availability of walk-in places for reliable, free, and nonpunitive pregnancy diagnosis.
It is recommended that adopt an Abortion Law in place of its Eugenic Protection Law. At present 560,000 cases of abortion are performed yearly in Japan in spite of the fact that 90% of married couples are practicing birth control. That means that each year 1 out of 50 women at childbearing age (between 15-44 years of age) has an abortion. Induced abortion is illegal in Japan in accordance with Article 29 of the Criminal Law which came into effect in 1881. However, based on the Eugenic Protection Law put into effect in 1948, induced abortions performed by Eugenic Protection Law designated doctors are legal. Since the 1975 Declaration of International Year of Women Projects in 38% of the countries around the world, legalized abortion is available during the 1st trimester. In such countries as England, Sweden, and East Germany a woman's right to abortion is protected by an Abortion Law. Japan should follow their steps. Abortion, however, does leave emotional as well as physical scars on women. More expanded sex education which deals with teenage pregnancy, male/female relationships leading to unwanted pregnancy, morality of sex, contraception, etc., is needed.
This review examines 3 topics from the authors' experience in Switzerland: the psychology of a woman requesting legal abortion, handling the conflicts involved, and short and long term sequelae of legal abortion. Abortion always seems to present a conflict or a transitory psychic imbalance, even in well-balanced women. The conflict may not appear before the pregnancy is visible and subject to social consequences. Women requesting abortion do not differ from the overall population, but repeaters may be unstable, unrealistic with risks, masochistic, or acting aggressively toward the fetus. The authors believe that a physician should mediate between the roles of technician and of psycho-socio-medico-legal expert. Practically, 2 appointments with a few days between for the woman to contemplate her decision are helpful. Immediate psychologic consequences of legal abortion are usually nonexistent, except for relief or euphoria. 3-6 months later some women experience depression: studies report from 1% in Sweden to 50% in German-speaking Swiss. Many reports mention moderate regret or remorse, but very few mention serious psychiatric reactions. The regret sometimes seen 20-30 years later may be related to how the culture and the physician viewed the original abortion request.
Prof. L. Hamberger spoke on the embryo and fetus from a gynecological perspective and outlined the states of fetal development from fertilization to the capability for independent life. He pointed out that abortion was permitted in certain cases through week 24, while premature babies should theoretically be saved beginning with week 22. Ragnar Olegaard reported that resuscitation research on premature and low weight babies is now very active and results in healthy surviving in 90% of the cases. Some of the children, however, show cerebral palsy. Jurist Arne Woxlin traced the history of legal protection of the fetus from 1921, when it was in the interest of society to control the number of children born and the number of abortions, while in 1938 the law referred to "the inviolability of life." In 1965, however, the commission referred to "the content of the womb." The lecturer showed a poster from the 1988 election with the text "No voting on the right to life," but the poster referred to seals and not to unborn children. Other speakers discussed the Warnock committee report in Great Britain, which attempted to establish a national consensus on abortion but which succeeded only in touching off a lively debate on ethical questions.