So the abortion rate in NYC is 41%. Who cares? Bill Clinton famously said that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” So it’s not rare. Isn’t it safe?
Abortion is an invasive medical procedure. Like any minor surgery, it carries risks: the risk of a perforated uterus, for instance, or a damaged cervix. We do not have good information on the frequency of complications from abortion, because they are not always reported as such. Occasionally, a woman dies from complications from abortion, but this is rare. The fact is, most abortions occur without complication.
But the dangers inherent in the abortion procedure are only the beginning of the problem of abortion from a health perspective. Abortion is associated with a very well established increased risk of low birth weight1 and pre-term birth in future pregnancies.2 It is also associated with an increased risk of placenta previa (where the placenta grows in the lower half of the uterus, covering the cervix) in future pregnancies.3 So an abortion today can negatively affect a pregnancy years from now. In addition to negatively affecting future pregnancies, abortion is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.4
There is also a substantial body of medical literature indicating that abortion is associated with negative mental health outcomes including suicide ideation, alcohol dependence, illegal-drug dependence, major depression, and anxiety disorder.5
Abortion is legal, but it’s not rare, and this is a problem because abortion is not as safe as we make it out to be.
1 Shah P. et al. “Induced termination of pregnancy and low birth weight and preterm birth: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” BJOG 2009;116(11):1425-1442.
2 Swingle HM, Colaizy TT, Zimmerman MB, Moriss FH. “Abortion and the Risk of Subsequent Preterm Birth: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” J Reproductive Medicine 2009;54:95-108.
3 John M. Thorp, Jr., MD, Katherine E. Hartmann, MD, PhD, and Elizabeth Shadigian, MD, “Long-Term Physical and Psychological Health Consequences of Induced Abortion: Review of the Evidence.” OB GYN Survey, Vol 58, No. 1, 2002.
4 Janet R. Daling, Kathleen E. Malone, Lynda F. Voigt, Emily White, Noel S. Weiss, (1994) JNCI 86:1584-92l ).
5 Fergusson DM, Horwood JL, & Boden JM (2008). Abortion and mental health disorders: evidence from a 30-year longitudinal study, The British Journal of Psychiatry (2008) 193: 444-451.
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