Studies - General Research

Reproductive Health: Maternal Physical Complications of Abortion (Citings 1994)

This report was written in 1994; the published sources range from the 1970s to the 1990s. Like other pages presented in this section which contain older studies, it is presented primarily to show how much abortion research has been available – but ignored – for decades…

The argument used by many abortion advocates of induced abortion – that abortion is safer than childbirth – is clearly erroneous is light of the medical evidence to the contrary.

Adverse consequences from induced abortion include both physical and psychological complications, and frequently a woman will experience severe reactions in both areas.

Some physical complications may arise immediately from the abortion procedure and include

bleeding or hemorrhage;1

retention of fetal tissue;2

unrecognized ectopic pregnancy;3

laceration of the cervix;4

uterine, bowel, or bladder perforation;5

inflammation or infection of the reproductive organs (endometritis or pelvic inflammatory disease) or pain, cramping, or menstrual disturbance.6

If a woman with a sexually transmitted disease, such as chlamydia, obtains an induced abortion, the likelihood of pelvic inflammatory diseases (PID) following the abortion greatly increases.7

Other later complications from induced abortion include

sterility, 8

increased risk of ectopic (tubal) pregnancy,9

miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight,

difficulties in future labor and delivery and

neonatal death.

The risk of these complications increases with each subsequent abortion.10

Death of the mother is, obviously, the most serious of all physical complications. The risk of death is greater as the duration of pregnancy increases and the complexity of the abortion procedures expands.11

Various studies have also shown that women may abuse alcohol or drugs following abortion. Women who have had abortions frequently report their first use of increased use of alcohol or drugs to attempt to alleviate the stress related to abortion.

Increased use of cocaine, heroin, or methapethamine has been reported in women following abortion, including during subsequent pregnancies intended to be carried to term. This contributes to fetal risk and adversely impacts on the health of the mother.12

According to some studies, women also have significantly increased smoking rates following induced abortion. A recent study among over 6,000 women in Washington state found that only 18% of the women smoked during pregnancy with no prior abortions compared to 28% of women with one prior abortion. And this increased to 30% with 2 or 3 abortions, and to 41.6% with 4 or more abortions.13

Many health problems related to reproductive health, as well as health in general, result from cigarette smoking. Women smokers are at least 10 times more likely to die prematurely from lung cancer than women non-smokers. In many countries lung cancer is among the leading causes of premature death in women. Smoking during pregnancy leads to low birth weight and increased risks of sterility as well as other reproductive problems.

Citings:
1. C. Tietze et al, “Joint Program for the Study of Abortion (JPSA): Early medical complications of legal abortion,” Studies in Family Planning 3:97 (1971) (Among immediate complications, hemorrhage, laceration of the cervix and perforation totaled 1.2% at 8 weeks gestation and 3.6% at 15 weeks gestation); S. Kaali et al, “The Frequency and Management of Uterine Perforation During First-Trimester Abortions,” Am Journal Obstet Gynecol 161:406-408 (August 1989) (1.98% of abortions had uterine perforations using laparoscopy).

2. E.B. Obel, “Pregnancy Complications Following Legally Induced Abortion,” Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 58: 485-490 (1979) (Bleeding before 28-weeks gestation and retention of placenta or placental tissue occurred more frequently among women with legal abortion that a matched control group).

3. S. Burrows et al, “Missed Tubal Pregnancy,” Am Journ Obstet Gynecol 136 (5): 691-692, March 1, 1980 (Only 11 cases of tubal pregnancy were found in 41,753 women who presented to Planned Parenthood centers. Only 2 cases were identified prior to rupture. Based on the known incidence of tubal pregnancy, the number of identified cases should have been much higher).

4. K.F. Schultz, et al, “Measures To Prevent Cervical Injury During Suction Curettage,” The Lancet 1:1182, May 28, 1983.

5. C. Tietze, et al, “Joint Program for the Study of Abortion (JPSA): Early medical complications of legal abortion,” Studies in Family Planning 3:97 (1971) (Among immediate complications, hemorrhage, laceration of the cervix and perforation totaled 1.2% at 8 weeks gestation and 3.6% at 15 weeks gestation); S. Kaali et al, “The Frequency and Management of Uterine Perforation During First-Trimester Abortions,” Am Journal Obstet Gynecol 161:406-408 (August 1989) (1.98% of abortions had uterine perforations using laparoscopy).

6. L.H. Roht, et al, “Increased Reporting of Menstrual Symptoms Among Women Who Used Induced Abortion,” Am Journ Obstet Gynecol, 127: 356 (1977).

7. Westergard, et al, “Significance of Cervical Chlamydial Trachomatis Infection in Post-Abortal PID,” Obstet Gynecol, 60(3): 322-325, Sept 1982 (28% of the women with chlamydia in the cervix at the time of their abortion had post-abortal PID compared to 10% of women without chlamydia).

8. Tzonou, et al, “Induced abortions, miscarriages, and tobacco smoking as risk factors for secondary infertility,” J Epidemiology and Community Health 47:36, 1993 (Women with one abortion had a 2.1-fold risk factor for secondary infertility compared to 2.3 where there were 2 previous abortions).

9. A. Levin, et al, “Ectopic Pregnancy and Prior Induced Abortion,” Am Journal Public Health 72(3): 253-256, March 1982.

10. Harlap, et al, “Prospective Study of Spontaneous Fetal Losses After Induced Abortions,” 301(13): 677, Sept 27, 1979; Levin, et al, “Association of Induced Abortion with Subsequent Pregnancy Loss,” Journal Am Medical Assn (JAMA), 243(24): 2495, June 27, 1980; Hiesterberg, et al,  “Sequelae of Induced First-Trimester Abortion,” Am Journal Obstet Gynecol 155:76 (1986).

11. Jack A. Pritchard, M.D., et al, Williams Obstetrics, 17th ed. (Norwalk, CT: Appleton-Century Crofts, 1985), p. 483.

12. “The Incidence and Effects of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Women Following Induced Abortion,” Newsletter of the Assoc Interdisciplinary Res in Values and Social Change 3(2): 108, Summer, 1990.

13. Mandelson, et al, “Low Birth Weight in Relation to Multiple Induced Abortions,” Am Journal Public Health 82(3): 391, March 1992.

[International Right to Life Federation, Inc.,  March 1994]