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What are the Immediate Risks of Abortion?

Before you decide what the end result of your pregnancy will be, you deserve to have all the information you need to make a decision  you’ll never look back on with regret. If you  need more information about abortion procedures, check out our blog by clicking here.

Abortion, like any medical or surgical procedure, carries several different risks. Serious medical complications such as bleeding, infection and damage to organs can occur during and/or after an abortion. There is also a higher chance of complications with later-term abortions compared with early abortions (1). Due to the fact that many women do not report their abortion, there is limited information about complications linked to abortion but the resources available report the following risks:

Heavy Bleeding

Some bleeding after abortion is normal. However, there is a risk of severe bleeding known as hemorrhaging if the cervix is torn or the uterus is punctured during the abortion. Whenever there is severe bleeding, a blood transfusion may be necessary. Severe bleeding can occur after both a surgical abortion and after taking the abortion pill. One in 100 women require surgery to stop the bleeding after taking the abortion pill (2).

Infection

Whenever medical instruments are inserted into the uterus, infection can develop. Infection can also occur if fetal parts are not completely removed during the procedure, known as an incomplete abortion. Bleeding and/or pelvic infection may require antibiotics and scarring is possible for the pelvic organs. There is always the possibility for the need of a surgical procedure to fully empty the uterus (3).

Anesthesia Difficulties

Complications with local or general anesthesia during an abortion procedure can lead to seizure, cardiopulmonary arrest, and death (4).

Damage to the Organs

The cervix and/or uterus may be cut, torn or punctured by abortion instruments. This may cause excessive bleeding requiring surgical repair. Abortion instruments may cause permanent scarring of the uterine lining. The risk of these types of complications increases with the length of the pregnancy. If complications occur, major surgery may be required, including removal of the uterus (known as a hysterectomy). If the uterus is punctured or torn there is also a risk that damage may occur to nearby organs such as the bowel and bladder (3).

Rh Factor

What is the Rh Factor?

Types of antigens on blood cells help determine whether someone’s blood type A, B, AB, or O. Antigens are proteins on the surface of the blood cells and one of those proteins is the Rh factor. If a person has the Rh factor, they are considered Rh-positive. If a person does not have the Rh factor, they are Rh-negative. Pregnant women who are Rh-negative should receive the Rhogam injection. If an Rh-negative woman does not receive Rhogam, her body can develop antibodies which causes her body to respond as if it is allergic to the baby if the baby is Rh-positive. (3)

Abortion and the Rh Factor

It is important to understand the seriousness of the Rh factor. Rh sensitization can occur any time the fetus’ blood mixes with the mother’s blood, which includes miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or abortion. Therefore, before a woman decides on an abortion, it’s important that she understand the risk of how the Rh factor may affect future pregnancies if not treated correctly.

Death

In extreme cases, complications from abortion (excessive bleeding, infection, organ damage from a perforated uterus and adverse reactions to anesthesia) may lead to death. The risk of death immediately following an induced abortion performed at or below 8 weeks is extremely low (approximately 1 in a million) but increases with length of pregnancy. From 8 weeks to 16-20 weeks, the risk of death increases 30 times, and from 8 weeks to 21 weeks and over, it increases 100 times (3).

1. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/795001-overview#showall

2. Mifeprex Package Insert FDA-approved label, July 2005.

3. Option Line: http://www.optionline.org/questions/considering-abortion/#note-21#note-21

4. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/795001-clinical

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