The Dangers of Abortion

New Studies Reveal Risks

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By Father John Flynn, LC

ROME, SEPT. 21, 2012 ( Advocates of abortion often insist that it needs to be legal and readily available so as to reduce health risks for women. Some recent studies show, however, that abortion brings with it considerable risks.

Research in Finland published in the journal “Human Reproduction” collected data from all 300,858 first-time mothers in Finland between 1996 and 2008, reported on Sept. 6. The results showed that women were three times more likely to have a very premature baby, born before 28 weeks, if they had had three or more abortions.

According to an analysis of the findings published by and written by Dr. Peter Saunders, it is an important study, but by no means the first revealing such risks. He said there are “around 120 articles in the world literature already attesting to an association between abortion and premature birth.”

Nevertheless, the Finnish study carries a lot of weight due to the large number of women in it and also because it controlled for factors such as maternal age, socioeconomic level and various health factors.

Similar results were found in another study also recently published. Lead researcher Professor Siladitya Bhattacharya, chair in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Aberdeen, and his colleagues studied how differing methods of abortion affected the future likelihood of premature births, the Medical Daily Web site reported on Sept. 5.

They looked at the records of Scottish women from 1981 to 2007 and found that abortions increased the risk of giving birth prematurely in future pregnancies by an average of 37% compared to women who had never been pregnant before.


The study was presented at the British Science Festival. The risk of complications in future pregnancies rises with each abortion. As well, the research showed that having just one abortion brings with it a significant risk for the safety of later pregnancies.

«We found that women who had an induced abortion in their first pregnancy were more at risk of maternal and perinatal risks in comparison with women who had had a live birth or no previous pregnancy,» said Bhattacharya.

A further recent study, titled “Short and long term mortality rates associated with first pregnancy outcome: Population register based study for Denmark 1980–2004,” was published by David Reardon and Priscilla Coleman.

They looked at the records of 463,473 women who had their first pregnancy between 1980 and 2004, of whom 2,238 died. “In nearly all time periods examined, mortality rates associated with miscarriage or abortion of a first pregnancy were higher than those associated with birth,” according to a summary of the study published by the Medical Science Monitor.

Commenting on the risks of abortion for the Family Research Council, Jeanne Monahan pointed out that, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, at least 450 women have died in the United States as a result of abortion complications.

Monahan added that this is a low estimate because many states do not report abortion data. This includes California, which, she noted accounts for approximately one-fifth of all abortions in the United States.

She also commented on the risks from the use of chemical abortion, with the pharmaceutical RU-486. According to the Food and Drug Administration as of April 2011 (10 and a half years after RU-486 was approved in the U.S.), there were 2,207 adverse event reports on file with the government. This includes 612 hospitalizations, 339 blood transfusions and 11 deaths.

Maternal mortality

Additional information on the health risks of abortion came in an article published Sept. 6 by the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. According to Wendy Wright a study from Sri Lanka found that in developing countries widespread misuse of abortion “has led to partial or septic abortion thereby increasing maternal mortality and morbidity.”

Further studies, carried out by the Association for Interdisciplinary Research in Values and Social Change, found that RU-486 has high complication rates, with greater medical risks to women in developing countries.

In Vietnam, for example, one in four women who used RU-486 had to subsequently undergo a surgical abortion due to an incomplete result from the pharmaceutical.

Wright put at 14 the number of women who have died in the United States as a result of using RU-486 since it was legalized.

Nevertheless, the push to make RU-486 available continues. In Australia until now only a small number of doctors were authorized to administer it, but now pharmacies will be able to sell it following a decision by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the Australian newspaper reported Aug. 31.

In the past six years that RU-486 has been available in Australia, TGA figures show 792 cases of «adverse events» from the use of the drugs.

“Women facing un-supported pregnancy should be offered real choices by our society, not a dangerous chemical to poison their unborn child,” commented Wendy Francis for the Australian Christian Lobby. A valid point not only for Australia but for other countries as well.

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