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How Abortion Harms Women's Health
Provided by Family Research Council, by Moira Gaul, M.P.H.

Advocates of legalized abortion downplay or deny the health risks associated with abortion. However, the research indicates that abortion isolates women and can often cause physical and psychological suffering..

Physical complications

Abortion can cause both short-term and long-term physical complications, and can significantly affect a woman's ability to have healthy future pregnancies.

Though there are no requirements for states to report abortion data to any federal agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have received reports of the deaths of 386 women from legal abortion between 1973, when abortion was legalized nationwide, and 2004. Reporting procedures and coding on U.S. death certificates for pregnancy-related deaths, as well as the lack of surveillance methods, have made it very difficult to accurately assess overall deaths associated with abortion procedures.

Physical complications include cervical lacerations and injury, uterine perforations, bleeding, hemorrhage, serious infection, pain, and incomplete abortion. Risks of complications increase with gestational age and are dependent upon the abortion procedure.

Long-term physical consequences of abortion include future preterm birth and placenta previa (improper implantation of the placenta) in future pregnancies. Premature delivery is associated with higher rates of cerebral palsy, as well as respiratory, brain, and bowel abnormalities. One recent large-scale evaluation published in Pediatrics, has concluded that preterm birth is the most frequent cause of infant death in the U.S. Pregnancies complicated by placenta previa result in high rates of preterm birth, low birth weight, perinatal death, and maternal morbidity.

While the question of whether abortion can increase the risk of breast cancer is hotly debated, a number of scientific studies have indicated that induced abortion can adversely affect a woman's future risk of breast cancer. Further, it has been clearly shown that induced abortion in young women causes the loss of a protective effect from a first, full-term pregnancy which when followed by a delay in child bearing, has the net effect of an increased risk for breast cancer.

Physical complications from chemical abortion with the drug RU-486 include hemorrhage, infection, and missed ectopic pregnancy (a potentially fatal complication). Since 2000, at least 8 women have died from RU-486 due to hemorrhage and infection.