Studies - General Research

Women who Abort (SMJ,8/2002)

A study published in the 8/2002 issue of the Southern Medical Journal reveals that women who have abortions are at significantly higher risk of death than women who give birth, both in the short- and long-term, and across socioeconomic boundaries.

Compared to delivering women, women who abort have an elevated risk of death from all causes that persists for at least 8 years. Projected on the national population, this effect may contribute to 2000-5000 additional deaths among women each year.

[Southern Medical Journal study reported in 3/03 Lifelines; Elliot Inst 02 Year End Report]

It appears that the death rate following abortion is actually much higher than previously known.

Researchers examined death records linked to Medi-Cal payments for births and abortions in 1989 for approximately 173,270 low income Californian women. The study compared women whose history of pregnancy outcomes fell into five different categories.

The delivery-only group had the fewest deaths and the abortion-only group had the most deaths.

They discovered that women who had abortions were almost twice as likely to die in the following two years and that the elevated mortality rate of aborting women persisted over at least eight years (1989-1997). The authors suggest that delivering a child has a protective effect on women.

This finding contradicts the widely accepted opinion that abortion is safer than childbirth.

During the eight year period studied, women who aborted had a significantly higher age-adjusted risk of death from all causes (1.62). They had a 154 percent higher risk of death from suicide (2.54), an 82 percent higher risk of death from accidents (1.82), and a 44 percent higher risk of death from natural causes (1.44), including AIDS (2.18), circulatory diseases (2.87), and cerebrovascular disease (5.46), than those women who gave birth. Results are stratified by age and time.

It is often argued that women who have problems after abortion are the ones who had psychiatric problems before having the abortions. This study controlled for that factor by including the records of mental health visits in the year prior to the pregnancy event. They found that the difference in death rates between the delivery-only group and the abortion-only group continued to be significant even when controlling for previous psychiatric problems.

 

When specific causes of death were examined, two findings stand out.

One is that abortion increases the risk of dying from AIDS and of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Previous research has demonstrated that women who have abortions also have a higher rate of drug abuse, which would put them at higher risk of getting HIV. Cardiac disease is associated with psychological problems — especially depression — which have been found to occur in women following abortion. It is also associated with alcohol consumption and smoking, both of which tend to increase following abortion.

This is the second major record-based study to link abortion to elevated mortality rates, and confirms the trend found in the study in Finland, which showed significantly higher death rates associated with abortion than with childbirth.

In 1997, a government-funded study of women in Finland revealed that in the first year following an abortion, aborting women were 252 percent more likely to die compared to women who delivered and 76 percent more likely to die compared to women who had not been pregnant. This Finnish study used a method called record-linkage, which allowed the researchers to match cases of women with various pregnancy outcomes to subsequent death events.

This is also the first American study to use a similar approach — a uniform and objective standard for associating deaths with prior abortions and births.

Critics of abortion have long complained about the inaccuracies of abortion mortality figures. There are no federal or state regulations requiring the reporting of abortion complications. Indeed, the international standard for identifying cause of death does not even provide a means for identifying surgical abortion as a cause of death.

Both this study and the Finnish study are based upon records collected from government statistics, which can be validated and are, thus, highly reliable.

It is interesting that the American study is based on a population of poor people in California who used Medi-Cal to finance their abortions. The Finnish study is based on a wide range of different kinds of people from all over that country.  

Even with different demographics, the findings of both studies are quite similar.

 

Another recently published Elliot Institute study using the California data reveals that aborting women also seek more subsequent mental health care.

A third Elliot Institute study, published January 02 in the British Medical Journal, reveals that subsequent long-term clinical depression is more common among those women who have had abortions. Depression can weaken the immune system and reduce overall health.

Authors of the study are Drs. David C. Reardon, Philip G. Ney, Fritz Scheuren, Jesse Cougle, Priscilla K. Coleman, and Thomas W. Strahan, Esq.

There are 47 References for this journal article. More information, researchers comments, and a link to the actual study are posted for the press at ttp://www.afterabortion.org/News/deaths_smj.html

["Deaths Associated With pregnancy Outcome: A Record Linkage Study of Low Income Women", Southern Medical Journal, 8/02, Vol. 95, No. 8; Elliot Institute; August 27, 2002; National Rt to Life News, 9/02]

 

Reardon, et.al., Deaths Associated With Pregnancy Outcome; Southern Medical Journal, Vol 95, No 8, August 2002

This study covered an 8 year period, 1989 to 1997.  The data show that the increased death rates for women who had abortions vs women who delivered were observed throughout the 8 years examined.  Violent deaths predominated earlier in this period, naural deaths predominated later in this period.  During this 8 year period:
1.   Women who aborted were 1.6 times more likely to die from all causes than women who delivered.
2.  Women who aborted (after eliminating women with a previous psychiatric history were 3.1 times more likely to die of suicide than women who delivered.
3.  Women who aborted were 1.8 times more likely to die of accidents than women who delivered.  This may reflect the known post abortion effect of higher alcohol and drug use,  and higher risk taking, angry, selfdestructive  behaviour.
4.  As might be expected, women with a previous psychiatric history who aborted were more likely to commit suicide than women with a previous psychiatric history who delivered.  This is because delivering a baby apparently has a protective effect against committing suicide, both for women with previous psyciatric history and without previous psychiatric history.
5.  Women who aborted were 1.4 times more likely to die from natural causes than women who delivered   The aborted women’s natural causes of death and increased risk thereof, compared to delivering women, were as follows:  AIDS 2.2 times higher, cardiovascular disease 2.9 times higher, cerebrovascular disease 5.5 times higher.  Severe guilt, remorse, and depression, may affect a person’s physical  health. [AAPLOG, 11/2006]