Goal of the Study:
Approximately 20% of all pregnancies in the U.S. end in abortion. The health implications of abortion on women continues to be a source of heated debate at the social, moral, ethical, scientific and political levels. Various health concerns have been reported, short- and long-term. These include both physiological (e.g. increased risk of cancer) and psychological effects (e.g. increased risk of mood disorders (including depression), anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide) on women who have undergone an abortion.
Given the seriousness of the potential mental health and physical consequences, and the difficulty of treating them if they occur, it is necessary to appropriately investigate these potential links to the abortion procedure, even if it is simply out of an ethical obligation to truthfully inform those opting to undergo an abortion. Unlike many other situations in medicine, there has not been any objective pre-clinical investigation of the potential serious physiological consequences of the termination of a viable pregnancy. Given the complex changes in the body associated with pregnancy, it is impossible to expect that terminating a viable pregnancy is without its consequences.
The goal of our study is to provide an objective investigation into the potential physiological, neurological and behavioral consequences of an induced abortion in an animal model (a laboratory rat), providing information that is purely objective and without influence of social and moral norms. While animals and humans are different, there are many similarities in the physiology, the way the brain works, and the resulting behaviors (e.g. in stress). The findings of the study should provide further insight into the potential consequences of abortion.
In summary, it is our hope that the findings from our study will reveal urgently needed information that is currently not available, related to the physiological and neurological consequences of abortion and how they affect behavior.
Background & Other Information
The principal investigator, Dr. Stephen Sammut, has been conducting research in animal models for over 20 years. He has authored and co-authored several papers in leading scientific journals related to the research he has conducted and has also presented his work at various conferences and institutions, both nationally and internationally.
Following the submission of a scientific proposal to the Watson Bowes Research Institute (https://watsonbowesresearchinstitute.org/)
, and its scientific review and approval, he was awarded a grant of $16K in 2015 to initiate this work. In addition, Dr. Sammut has acquired over $150K in equipment that has been either donated or funded through other private donors. Without this support, this work would never have started nor would it be where it is now.
What we have found so far:
Our first study focused on mid-term chemically-induced abortion (also known as medical abortion). This involves the administration of drugs to terminate the life of the baby and expel it from the womb.
The findings of this first phase have been presented at the 2018 Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego (https://abstractsonline.com/pp8/#!/4649/presentation/31829)
, in addition to other smaller conferences. We are currently preparing the manuscript for submission to a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
In general, our results appear to indicate negative behavioral effects of pregnancy termination and also possible protective effects of pregnancy.
What is needed and what it would cover:
Although we have conducted a lot of work, there is a significant amount more that still needs to be done. The work is far from complete. Among other aspects:
1. It is necessary to investigate further the effects on the brain, in order to better understand the reason for the negative behaviors observed.
2.It is still necessary to investigate the consequences of late-term surgical termination.
3. If there are physiological consequences to abortion and if we are able to gain some understanding of the mechanisms in the brain and show that changes do take place, it would then be important to investigate how the changes potentially affect other behaviors, such as the tendency for substance abuse, the behavior of the mother towards future offspring, etc.
This information from animal models informs us on the potential changes in brain wiring that could affect behavior and can inform us on what could potentially be happening in the human brain.
In order to do this work, additional equipment is required. This equipment will be used to measure changes in brain activity resulting from an induced abortion. The required equipment has a wide potential for use, including in the other major project being conducted in the lab.
We are looking for donations to support the purchase of the necessary equipment mentioned above, costing approximately $40K. Your donation will assist in shedding light on the truth and hopefully also help inform the general public, the medical and scientific fields, as well as the legislatures about this procedure.