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Abortion Risks

The risks of having an abortion can vary depending on several factors

It is your right to be informed of the possible risks of abortion.

Abortion Pill Risks

  • Heavier bleeding and more severe cramping compared to a surgical abortion. Bleeding occurs for an average of 14 days compared to 9 days for a surgical abortion.1 
  • Other side effects include nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, chills, and diarrhea.2
  • Failure rates have been reported up to 23% (approximately 1 in 4) which results in the need for a follow up surgical abortion.3  There is a risk of birth defects in the event that the pregnancy continues.4
  • Risk of hemorrhage needing transfusion have been reported at 4/1,000.5

First Trimester Surgical Abortion Risks

  • Normal physical side effects include cramping and vaginal bleeding, nausea or vomiting, feeling faint, sweating, sore breasts, and fatigue.6 
  • Women report a range of emotions after an abortion. This can include depression or thoughts of suicide. Some women, after their abortion, have also reported feelings of grief, anxiety, lowered self-esteem, regret, sexual dysfunction, avoidance of emotional attachment, flashbacks and substance abuse. Other negative emotions also reported are guilt, shame, anger and an inability to cope.8  For some women, these emotions may appear immediately after an abortion or gradually over a longer period of time.
  • While infection is uncommon following a 1st trimester abortion, one of several risk factors for infection is the presence of a sexually transmitted disease at the time of the abortion.9
  • Perforation of the uterus is uncommon, but a delay in recognizing this complication can be life-threatening.10
  • And although very rare, death is a possible risk of abortion.11

Informed consent forms requiring your signature will include the following risks of surgical abortion: failed abortion, incomplete abortion, infection, hemorrhage, cervical laceration, uterine perforation, anesthesia reactions, and the rate occurrence of hysterectomy or death.12

1. Grimes, D. A., Creinin, M. D., Borgatta, L., Stubblefield, P. G., Lichtenberg, S. (2011). Management of Unintended and Abnormal Pregnancy: Comprehensive Abortion Care. Germany: Wiley, 124.
2. Ibid, 120, 122.
3. Ibid, 116.
4. Ibid, 123.
5. Ibid.
6. “After Abortion Care,” last modified August 29, 2016, https://www.healthline.com/health/after-abortion.
7. “A Woman’s Right to Know,” last modified December 2016, https://hhs.texas.gov/sites/default/files/documents/services/health/women-children/womans-right-to-know.pdf
8. Grimes, D. A., Creinin, M. D., Borgatta, L., Stubblefield, P. G., Lichtenberg, S. (2011). Management of Unintended and Abnormal Pregnancy: Comprehensive Abortion Care, 57.
9. Ibid, 236.
10. Ibid, 241.
11. Tara C, Jatlaoui, Linsey Eckhaus , Michele G. Mandel, et al., Abortion Surveillance — United States, 2016. MMWR Surveill Summ 2019; 68 (No. SS-11):1–41. DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.ss6811a1
12. Grimes, D. A., Creinin, M. D., Borgatta, L., Stubblefield, P. G., Lichtenberg, S. (2011). Management of Unintended and Abnormal Pregnancy: Comprehensive Abortion Care,  49.

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