Abortion Risks

Below is a description of the immediate abortion risks:
Pelvic Infection: Germs (bacteria) from the vagina or cervix may enter the uterus during the abortion and cause an infection in the pelvic region. Antibiotics can treat infections but, in rare cases, a repeat suction abortion, hospitalization and/or surgery may be required.

Incomplete abortion risks:  An incomplete abortion outlines that part of the fetus, or other products of pregnancy (placenta), may not drain completely from the uterus, requiring further medical procedures. This may result in infection and bleeding.

Blood clots in the uterus: Blood clots that produce severe cramping can also occur. The clots usually are removed by a repeat surgical abortion procedure.

Heavy bleeding: Some bleeding is typical after an abortion. Heavy bleeding (hemorrhaging) is not common and may be treated by repeat suction (surgical abortion), medication or, rarely, surgery. Be sure to ask your doctor to explain heavy bleeding and what to do if it happens.

Cut or torn cervix:  The opening of the uterus (cervix) may be torn because the abortionist must stretch it open to allow medical instruments to pass into the uterus during surgical abortion procedures.

Puncture/Tear of the wall of the uterus: A medical instrument can cut through the wall of the uterus during a suction abortion procedure. Perforation can lead to infection, heavy bleeding or both, depending on the severity of the cut. Surgery may be required to repair the uterine tissue, and in serious cases, a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) may be required.

Anesthesia-related complications: As with other surgical procedures, anesthesia increases the risk of complications associated with abortion.   Due to these riskd, many surgical abortion procedures are completed without benefit of anesthesia which can entail a great deal of physical pain to the woman.

Rh Immune Globulin Therapy: Genetic material found on the surface of a woman’s red blood cells are known as the Rh Factor. If a woman and her fetus have different Rh factors, she must receive medication to prevent the development of antibodies that would endanger future pregnancies.

Scar tissue on the uterine wall.  A surgical abortion can result in the growth of scar tissue in the uterus, a condition known as Asherman’s syndrome.   This can lead to abnormal, absent or painful menstrual cycles, future miscarriages and infertility.

Possible side effects and abortion risks of D&E abortion:

  • A hole in the uterus (uterine perforation) or other damage to the uterus.
  • Injury to the bowel or bladder.
  • A cut or torn cervix (cervical laceration).
  • Incomplete removal of the unborn child, placenta, or contents of the uterus requiring an additional operation.
  • Complications from anesthesia, such as respiratory problems, nausea and vomiting, headaches, or drug reactions.
  • Inability to get pregnant due to infection or complication from an operation.
  • A possible hysterectomy as a result of complication or injury during the procedure.
  • Hemorrhage (heavy bleeding).
  • Emergency treatment for any of the above problems, including the possible need to treat with an operation, medicines, or a blood transfusion.

Abortion Risk – Impact on Future Pregnancies:

Complications associated with an abortion, or having multiple abortions, may make it difficult to have children in the future.

In addition, some research suggests a possible link between abortion and an increased risk of the following in future pregnancies:

  • Vaginal bleeding during early pregnancy
  • Preterm birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Placenta problems, such as retained placenta
  • An incompetent cervix poses risks for future pregnancies — particularly during the second trimester — including: premature birth, pregnancy loss. In such cases, surgery might be needed to repair the damage before a woman can conceive another child.
  • A weakened or damaged cervix can lead to the potential for the cervix to open prematurely (incompetent cervix) in a subsequent pregnancy. This is more likely to affect women who have had multiple surgical abortions.

Emotional, Psychological and/or Physical Abortion Risks:

Because every person is different, one woman’s reaction to an abortion will certainly be different from another’s at a spiritual, emotional, psychological or physical level.   These impacts can vary over time, depending on the mental health of the post-abortive person.

After an abortion, a woman may have both positive and negative feelings regarding her choice, even at the same time. It’s typical to feel instant relief due to the fact that the procedure is over and that she is no longer in an unplanned pregnancy.  However, after a few months, this relief can be replaced with many other emotional reactions.

One woman may feel sad that she was in a position where all of her choices were difficult ones. She may feel emotionally sad about ending her pregnancy. She may also experience a sense of emptiness or guilt, wondering whether or not her decision was correct.

Some women who describe these feelings find they go away with time. Others find them more difficult to overcome as time advances.

Certain factors can increase the chance that a woman may have a difficult adjustment to an abortion.

The lack of counseling before consenting to an abortion can be troublesome after an abortion. 
When help and support from family and friends are not available, a woman’s adjustment to the decision may be more of a problem.

If a woman felt forced into the abortion decision as a result of pressure from the father of the child, her family or friends, she may become angry and withdraw from these individuals after the abortion.

If the woman felt like she had no choice but to have an abortion, she often experiences complicated emotions afterwards.

Other reasons why a woman’s long-term response to an abortion can be poor are often related to past events in her life. For example, bad feelings could last longer if she is unused to making major life decisions or already has serious emotional problems.

Talking with a professional and/or objective counselor can help a woman to receive education that allows her to consider her decision fully before she takes any action.  It is essential to find a source of information that does not benefit financial from the abortion decision.  Pregnancy centers are the best source of information and support to women considering abortion as well as assisting them emotionally after an abortion (abortion recovery).

Other documented emotional reactions to abortion include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Acute feeling of grief
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Fear of disclosure
  • Preoccupation with babies or getting pregnant again
  • Nightmares
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Termination of relationships
  • Emotional coldness
  • Increased alcohol and drug abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Flashbacks of the abortion procedure
  • Anniversary syndrome
  • Repeat abortions
  • Suicide

Medical Emergencies

In the case of a medical emergency, an abortionist may not be required to comply with any condition which, in the physician’s medical judgment, he or she is prevented from satisfying because of the medical emergency.  This includes abortion.

Go to the emergency room if you experience any of the following after an abortion:

  • Heavy bleeding occurs (2 or more pads/hour)
  • Pain is severe or not controlled by pain medication
  • You have fever
  • You have difficulty breathing
  • You have chest pain
  • You are disoriented

If you are considering abortion because of your circumstances, know that you can change your situation. If you aren’t sure about this choice, take time to find out “why” you have these feelings before you rush to have an abortion. Pregnancy centers are available to help you in any situation regardless of your decision.

Abortion risks are difficult to outline completely because post-abortive people rarely admit to making this choice, even with their physicians.  Planned Parenthood, the world’s largest abortion provider, estimates that as many as one out of every three American women have endured an abortion.  If abortion is so common, why does no one ever talk about it afterwards?  Post-abortive silence is likely related to emotional impact of abortion – shame, guilt, fear of judgment, etc.

Sadly, post-abortive silence means that it is difficult to understand the long term impact of this choice.  As a result, it is very difficult to identify long-term trends relating to the physical risks of abortion over the lifetime of a woman.   The list below outlines the initial abortion risks risk of the abortion procedure versus long-term risks.

Types of Abortion:

Abortion risks can vary depending upon the procedure and stage of pregnancy.

  • During a medical abortion, a woman takes medication in early pregnancy to abort the fetus. Typically medical abortions are done up until nine weeks gestation.
  • In a surgical abortion, the fetus is removed from the uterus — typically with a vacuum device, a syringe or a spoon–shaped instrument with a sharp edge (curet) — as a surgical procedure (also called “suction curettage”).
  • D&E (Dilatation and Evacuation) abortion procedure is typically done after 12 weeks of pregnancy. The procedure begins when the doctor opens (or dilates) the cervix. The uterus is then scraped and the unborn child and placenta are removed. After 16 weeks, the unborn child and placenta are removed, piece-by-piece, using forceps or other instruments.

REFERENCE: Abortion Risks  Louisiana and Texas Department of State Health Services.