Physical Complications

Despite conflicting evidence, including medical records, many abortion activists will only admit that "illegal" abortions are unsafe.

  • Some surgical abortion procedures can be life-threatening.
  • Medical abortions such as RU 486 can result in prolonged haemorrhaging.
  • A study showed 5% (5 in 100) women have complications after an induced abortion.
  • A woman who has had an abortion is up to five times more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Complications in future pregnancies is a common abortion related problem.
  • There is the risk of perforation of the uterus either by the instruments or by retained foetal tissue.
There are medical risks associated with surgical abortion that increase with subsequent abortions and the gestational age of the foetus.

When the abortionist commences the procedure, he or she will first place an instrument know as a speculum into the women's vagina and will then open it in order to visualise the cervix and the neck of the womb.

Having visualized the cervix, the abortionist then takes another instrument, know as the tenacculum and fastens it securely through the speculum onto the cervix in this manner, clamping shut the tenacculum and getting a firm grasp on the cervix.

Several smooth slender rods, called dilators, are used to gradually force open the cervical canal. The widest rod is about the size of a  finger, which is how wide the cervix (neck of the womb) needs to be opened.

This forced dilation almost always causes microscopic tearing of the cervix muscles and occasionally tears the uterine wall which results in scarring.

As the abortionist's hand often blocks line of sight vision, and the inside of the uterus cannot be seen during the abortion procedure, complications may occur that include cervical laceration, perforation of the uterus, retention of foetal product and haemorrhaging (which can be life-threatening).

Medical abortion, performed using RU486 or similar drugs can also result in prolonged haemorrhaging and deaths have occured.

The most commonly reported abortion-related problems include pain, infection, emotional distress, and problems in future pregnancies--such as sterility, miscarriage and prematurity leading to infant disability.

From the 2879 abortions performed in Christchurch in the study period, there were 167 admissions to Christchurch Women's Hospital with complications, which gives a gross rate of 5.8% (this does not include those women who sought help elsewhere).

Of the 167 admissions; 84% had D and C's, 55% had treatment with intravenous broad spectrum antibiotics. Eight patients proceeded to laparotomy (surgical incision into the abdominal wall), and four others underwent laparoscopies (where an incision is made into the abdominal wall in order to view - in this case - the uterus).

The study found an overall complication rate of 5.8% following induced abortion as measured by readmission of women. This included 2.9% who had retained products of conception. Immediate complications (0.92%) included perforation, haemorrhage and post-operative pain. Delayed complications were lower abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding presumed to be due to endometritis, retained foetal tissue, or both.
P. Sykes, "Complications of Termination of Pregnancy: A Retrospective Study of Admissions to Christchurch Women's Hospital 1989 and 1990," New Zealand Medical Journal, 10 March, 1993, [pp.83-85].

Sykes found that retention of foetal parts, after a first trimester abortion where the woman required re-hospitalisation, was in the range of 2.4% to 4.8%.

Another study, published in the Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica in April 2002, analyzed 56,117 induced abortions performed by public hospitals in Denmark from 1980 to 1994. It included only those complications reported by clinics or hospitals. The study combined results from the mandatory reporting of side-effects to the National Induced Abortion Registry and all diagnoses reported to the Hospital Discharge Registry.

The study concluded that about 5% of women have complications following an induced abortion, mostly haemorrhaging, infections or incomplete abortions (the retention of foetal tissue).

At an international conference on population held in Washington, DC, an official from the World Health Organization (WHO) made an admission that has ramifications likely to undermine one of the most common arguments for the worldwide legalization of abortion on demand. Safety.

Dr. Gunta Lazdane, European Regional Advisor to WHO on Reproductive Health and Research, said that, "up to 20% of maternal deaths are due to abortion, even in those situations where abortion is legal...there is a question whether ?safe' abortion is safe."

Dr. Lazdane was speaking at the Global Population Forum 2004, which was organized by the Population Institute and Population 2005, an alliance of reproductive rights groups.


  • 24.3% experience complications in future pregnancies. Complications include: excessive bleeding, premature delivery, cervical damage, and sterility.
    (Acta/Obstetrics and Gynecology Scandinavia 1979; 58:491-4)
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). A first-trimester abortion can result in bacterial vaginosis, leading to PID, a condition that must be treated quickly.
    (American Journal of Obs. and Gyn. 1992; 166:100-103)
  • Uterine perforations. Uterine perforations can often occur and sometimes may go unrecognized and untreated.
    (Bernadell Technical Bulletin 1989; 1:1:1-2)
  • Increased Risk of Breast Cancer. In addition to the aforementioned information. One source indicated a 140% increase risk following an abortion.
    (British Journal of Cancer 1981; 43-72-6)
  • Tubal pregnancy. Abortion appears to contribute to an increase in ectopic pregnancy in younger women when associated with pelvic inflammatory disease. Statistics show a 30% increased risk of ectopic pregnancy after one abortion and a 160% increased risk after two or more abortions.
    (American Journal of Obs. and Gyn. 1989; 160:642-6)
    (American Journal of Public Health 1982; 72:253-6)
  • Placenta previa - a condition producing extremely severe, life threatening bleeding in future pregnancies. Statistics show a 600% increased risk following abortion.
    (American Journal of Obs. and Gyn. 1981; 141:769-72)
  • Increased bleeding in subsequent pregnancies.
    (American Journal of Obs. and Gyn. 1983; 146:136-140)

  • Retention of placenta - increased in subsequent pregnancies.
    (Acta/Obstetrics and Gynecology Scandinavia 1979; 58:485-490)

    Women Under 20:
  • Two times greater risk of medical complications
    (Canadian Journal of Public Health 1982; 73:396-400)

  • 150% greater risk of cervical injury
    (New England Journal of Medicine 1983; 309:621-24)

  • Women who have had a previous abortion:
  • 200% increased risk of miscarriage after two or more abortions
    (Journal of the American Medical Association 1980:243:2495-9)

  • 160% increased risk of tubal pregnancy
    (American Journal of Public Health 1982; 72:253-6)

  • Increased risk of abnormal positioning of the baby in future pregnancies after one or more abortion.
    (American Journal of Obs. and Gyn. 1983; 146:136-140)

  • Women with previous or existing PID:
  • Decrease in fertility following an abortion
    (Acta/Obstetrics and Gyn. Scandinavia 1979; 58:539-42)

  • More days of post-abortion pain and cramping
    (Acta/Obstetrics and Gyn. Scandinavia 1982: 61:357-60)

  • Increased risk of tubal pregnancy following an abortion
    (American Journal of Public Health 1982; 72:253-6)