Daily Dispatches
Pro-abortion and pro-life demonstrators in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Associated Press/Photo by Nati Harnik, File
Pro-abortion and pro-life demonstrators in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Statistics debunk abortion safety myths


Last week The New York Times published an article scrutinizing legislation outlawing abortion and quoting the former chief of abortion surveillance for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying, “Having an abortion is safer than an injection of penicillin.” 

The article leads with the story about a young woman who was brutally mistreated in 2010 during an illegal, late-term procedure at a facility run by abortionist Stephen Brigham. The 18-year-old woman arrived at John Hopkins Hospital in critical condition with a pierced uterus and bowel. Brigham started the abortion in New Jersey and ended at an unmarked, unregulated facility in Elkton, Maryland. Because of that case, Maryland adopted tighter licensing and inspection regulations for abortion facilities, restrictions that came into full effect this year. 

The writer of the NYT article used Brigham’s story to make the point that though “illegal or haphazard methods” are wrong, abortion as a whole is safe and should not be made inaccessible. Besides, if only 10 women out of 1.2 million that had the procedure in 2010 died, then what’s the problem? 

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The nearly 100 percent fatality rate for babies should be enough to make the point that abortion should be stopped, but if death isn’t convincing, maybe statistics on post-abortive trauma will be.

Justices in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision never consulted scientific facts. And 40 years later, we have even more evidence against abortion. Dr. Alieta Eck, who co-founded Zarephath Health Center with her husband John, says without question women experience an emotional and physical toll after an abortion.

Americans United for Life compiled extensive statistics from multiple doctors and medical studies in its 2013 issue of Defending Life, a state-by-state legal guide and analysis of abortion:

  • Infection rate after abortion can be as high as 27 percent.
  • The sterility rate for women following abortion is as high as 5 percent. A woman who suffers from an infection following abortion is five to eight times more likely to have a potentially life-threatening ectopic (tubal) pregnancy in subsequent pregnancies. Abortion procedures place women in higher risk categories for future pregnancies and, for as many as 1 in 20 women, deprive them of the chance to bear children.
  • Short term risks include blood loss, blood clots, incomplete abortions, infection, pelvic inflammatory disease, injury to the cervix and other organs, and hemorrhage. In 2008, 10,890 women suffered from excessive blood loss following an abortion.
  • Pre-term birth occurs prior to the 37th week of pregnancy and is the leading cause of infant mortality. It also can cause disabilities. Most women abort with the idea of having children later in life. But more than 130 published studies show a statistically significant association between induced abortion and subsequent pre-term birth or low birth weight. If a woman has three or more abortions, the risk for future delivery before 28 weeks rises by a staggering 178 percent.
  • A 2011 study published by the British Journal of Psychiatry found that women face an 81 percent increased risk of mental health problems following an abortion—a 34 percent increased risk of anxiety, a 37 percent increased risk of depression, a 110 percent increased risk of alcohol use, and a 155 percent increased risk of suicide.
  • The risk of suicide is three times greater for women who aborted than for women who delivered.

As for penicillin, Eck says that in 30 years of work, she can count on one hand the number of times she has seen it cause a bad reaction.

Alissa Robertson
Alissa Robertson


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