Possible Side-effects & Medical Risks of Abortion

The risk of complications for the woman increases with the gestational age of the baby.

Note: New studies are showing that chemical abortions have a complication rate four times higher than surgical abortions. This results in a higher rate of emergency room visits.     Journal of American Physicans and Surgeons. Dec. 2019

Short Term Risks

A non-surgical abortion is chemical, using the drug RU-486, commonly called the Abortion Pill. It consists of two doses: Mifepristone and Misoprostol. Mifepristone blocks the hormone Progesterone which is needed to sustain a healthy pregnancy.  (This process can be reversed before taking the second dose.) Misoprostol completes the process by expelling the baby and placenta. It is performed between 2 -10 weeks of pregnancy.

Possible side-effects:

  • Painful cramping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever or chills
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Allergic reaction to the drug
  • Heavy bleeding (hemorrhaging) that may require an operation, blood transfusion or both
  • Incomplete abortion: parts of the unborn child and/or placenta remain in the uterus, causing infection, which requires a surgical procedure.
  • Inability to get pregnant in the future due to an infection, or complications of an operation
  • Death (rare)

A surgical abortion performed between 2 – 12 weeks of pregnancy. The cervix is gradually stretched and a tube attached to a suction system is inserted into the uterus. The unborn child and placenta are removed by suction.  Afterwards, a curette may be used to scrape the walls of the uterus to make sure it has been completely emptied. 

Possible side-effects:

  • Blood clots in the uterus
  • Heavy bleeding (hemorrhaging)
  • Cut or torn cervix
  • Perforation of the wall of the uterus
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) – an infection caused when bacteria from the vagina or cervix moves up into the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries.
  • Incomplete abortion; parts of the unborn child and/or placenta remain in the uterus, causing infection, which requires another surgical procedure.
  • Anesthesia-related complications
  • Diminished fertility or future infertility due to infection
  • Death (rare)

D&E: Dilatation and Evacuation;  D&X: Labor Induction or Dilatation & Extraction e.g. Partial birth Abortion. A surgical abortion performed from 13 to 22 weeks of pregnancy or to full term, depending on state laws.  For a D&E, the mother is given local or general anesthesia and pain medication before the procedure.  The cervix is dilated and the child removed, often in pieces, using forceps. The procedure is completed using suction and curettage. For a D&X, the mother receives the appropriate anesthesia.  The cervix is dilated and the doctor delivers the baby feet first, using forceps.  The baby’s head remains in the birth canal. The doctor makes an incision in the back of the head, a suction tube is inserted and the brain suctioned out so that the skull collapses. The baby is then fully removed from the mother.

  • Blood clots in the uterus
  • Heavy bleeding (hemorrhaging)
  • Cut or torn cervix
  • Perforation of the wall of the uterus
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) – an infection caused when bacteria from the vagina or cervix moves up into the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries.
  • Incomplete abortion: parts of the unborn child and/or placenta remain in the uterus, causing infection, which requires another surgical procedure.
  • Anesthesia-related complications
  • Diminished fertility or future infertility due to infection
  • Chronic abdominal pain
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Convulsions
  • Rh sensitization – if a woman and her unborn child have different Rh factors, (proteins in the red blood cells), she must receive medication to prevent the development of antibodies that would endanger future pregnancies.  In an abortion procedure, this will not be known.
  • Death (rare)

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How safe is RU-486, the Abortion Pill?

See what some women have experienced and what some studies are saying.

Long Term Risks

Complications from an abortion (infection, cut or torn cervix, scarred uterus) may make it difficult or impossible to become pregnant or to carry a pregnancy to term in the future.

Dilation of the cervix during a surgical abortion procedure weakens the cervix and can render it incompetent, resulting in subsequent pre-term births. The risk of a pre-term birth increases with the number of abortions a woman has had. Pre-term babies have a higher risk of lasting disabilities: cerebral palsy, mental retardation, visual and hearing impairment.  “The adjusted risk of preterm birth, under 37 weeks gestation, increased by 27% after one abortion and 62% after two or more abortions.” British Journal of Gynecology, May 2009

An ectopic pregnancy is one that develops outside the uterus, most commonly in the fallopian tube; the condition creates a life-threatening situation that requires emergency treatment. The most common cause of ectopic pregnancy is pelvic infection, e.g. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). Induced abortions increase the incidence of PID, which cause scarring within the fallopian tubes. This can cause a fertilized ovum to become entrapped, thus emplanting in the tube.

There is debate surrounding this issue.  What we do know is that 56 out of 108 worldwide studies show a strong link between breast cancer and abortion.  29 showed a small link and 23 showed no link.  In 1970, 1 in 12 women developed breast cancer in their lifetime.  Today it is 1 in 8 women. The medical community has given no confirmed reason for this rise.  Abortion was legalized in America in 1973 and since that time there have been over 60 million abortions. Breast cancer numbers rose at the same time as abortions increased. For more information on the science behind the abortion/breast cancer link, see the sources below.

Recent studies are showing that women who have had an elective abortion in either the first or second trimester, have a greater risk of developing an auto-immune disease later in their lives due to fetal microchimerism.  Fetal microchimerism is the transfer of cells from the fetus to the mother through the placenta. It is a normal part of pregnancy, so that the mother’s immune system won’t attack the fetus. When a pregnancy is terminated, some doctors hypothesize that there is an increased transfer of cells from the placenta to the mother as it is being destroyed. A greater number of fetal cells have been found in women who have undergone an induced abortion, than in women who have carried their pregnancies to term. There has been a consistent rise in auto-immune disorders in women in the past four decades and some scientists state that this could be due to the increased utilization of abortion.

To learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2894651/

Sources:

https://smartwomenshealthcare.com/best-science/

Complications: Abortion’s Impact on Women. Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, Prof. Ian Gentles, Elizabeth Ring-Cassidy. The deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research.  Second Edition: Revised and Updated 2018

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