The pro-choice movement has gone to great lengths to downplay the risks of abortion. According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, the number of deaths related to abortion has decreased to “near elimination” since its legalization in 1973, declining from 4.1 to 0.6 per 100,000 abortions between 1973 and 1997. Planned Parenthood Federation of America goes so far as to say that the risk of death from childbirth is 14 times as high as the risk of death from abortion. And although the National Abortion Federation has a detailed description of how women seeking abortion should deal with sidewalk counselors, they say nothing about the risks of abortion.

depression: one of the risks of abortion for women

Little Attention Given to Abortion Procedure

These are the claims greeting those seeking information on the web, making the procedure seem a simple and low-risk option for women facing unwanted pregnancy. However, a deeper look into the pro-choice world arouses suspicion.

We have all heard abortion stories like Abby Johnson’s, of women given little-to-no aid after their abortions. Prolific late-term abortionist Dr. Warren Hern admitted in his book  Abortion Practices, “In medical practice, there are few surgical procedures given so little attention and so underrated in its potential hazards as abortion. It is a commonly held view that complications are inevitable.”[1]

How is it that such a sloppy medical procedure has such a seemingly high success rate? Where are the statistics to back up this confession made by one of the most revered abortion doctors in the country? Is a surgical abortion really that safe?

Risks of Abortion Are Understated:

There are two main reasons that the dangers of abortion are so often underestimated.

  1. The first is a flaw in the recording. Most states do not require abortion clinics to report abortion-related injuries. These states include California, New York, Texas and Florida, which account for 40% of all abortions in the United States. Because of this, many deaths and injuries caused by botched abortions are attributed to other causes, especially since many women want to keep their abortions secret. Therefore, any statistics are a false estimate.
  2. The second reason why the physical risks of abortion are so understated is that abortion clinics give women the option of seeing their primary doctor for the follow-up visit. Whether this is for the comfort of the women or for the convenience of the abortion industry is open to interpretation, but the result is that many injuries are unreported. Women who suffer complications rarely return to the clinic, but go to the emergency room or the gynecologist instead. As a result, many of these injuries are reported falsely, and deaths caused by abortion are attributed to blood poisoning, anesthetic misadventure, and spontaneous gangrene of the ovaries.

What are the Risks of Abortion?

What are the risks of abortion then? Besides the 50 women who die on average a year from legal abortions, many women suffer injuries such as:

Uterine Perforation

Between two and three percent of aborting women suffer perforations of the uterus. Most of the perforations caused during first trimester abortions go undiagnosed and may lead to problems that may require a hysterectomy or other major corrective surgery, which, in itself, entails physical and psychological complications. Perforations occurring during late term abortions are more frequent and are always serious in nature.

NY Fire Department ambulance


Cervical Lacerations

Cervical lacerations requiring sutures occur in about one percent of all first trimester abortions. Less severe undiagnosed cervical damage may result in subsequent cervical incompetence, premature delivery and labor complications. Cervical damage and scarring of the endometrium from abortion may also increase the risk of abnormal development of the placenta in subsequent pregnancies, thus increasing the risk of birth defects.

Breast Cancer

The risk of breast cancer more than doubles after one abortion and grows even greater with subsequent abortions.

Cervical, Ovarian and Liver Cancer

Women who have had one abortion more than double their risks of cervical, ovarian, and liver cancer, and women with more than one abortion quadruple their risks.

Placenta Previa

Placenta previa involves a placenta being superimposed upon the cervix and causes severe hemorrhage during labor. Abortion increases the risk of this condition by anywhere from 700 to 1,500%. Placenta previa also increases the risks of subsequent fetal malformation and perinatal death.

Ectopic Pregnancies

Abortion is related to an increase in ectopic pregnancies in future pregnancies, which can seriously threaten the mother’s future fertility and even her life. Abortionists may also “abort” a mother who has an ectopic pregnancy at the time, thereby allowing the condition to continue and placing her life in danger.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

PID is life threatening and can lead to subsequent infertility and an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy. Twenty five percent of mothers who have chlamydia [the most common female venereal disease] at the time of their abortions will develop PID, and five percent of those who do not have chlamydia at the time will develop PID.


Endometritis is inflammation of the endometrium (the mucous membrane lining the uterus). Abortion increases the risk of endometritis, especially among teenagers.

Psychological Risks

Surgeon General C Everett Koop

C. Everett Koop

In addition to these physical risks, there are also great psychological risks to abortion. Many women suffer from Post-Abortion Syndrome, which can include symptoms as frightening as hearing babies cry at night and obsession with the baby’s due date. More information about Post-Abortion Syndrome and post-abortion stress can be found in the first chapter of our Facts of Life book.

This serious and heartbreaking condition is also strongly denied by the abortion movement. NARAL Pro-Choice America claims that no evidence was found for this syndrome by Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, when he was assigned by President Reagan to study it in 1987. Koop himself was enraged at this twisting of his words, telling an interviewer:

Instead of saying “The Surgeon General could not find sufficient evidence to issue a scientifically statistically accurate report that could not be assailed,” the Associated Press said, “He could find no evidence.” I know there are detrimental effects [from abortion]. I have counseled women with this problem over the last fifteen years. There is no doubt about it.[2]

The Real Motives of the Pro-Choice Movement

All of this deception by the pro-choice movement makes it clear that, although it claims to care about women, in reality it takes advantage of women in distress and uses them for its own money making advantage.



[1] Warren Hern. Abortion Practice [Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company], 1990, pages 101 and 103.

[2] Dr. C. Everett Koop. Interview with the Rutherford Institute, Spring 1989. Also recounted in The Abortion Injury Report (a publication of the American Rights Coalition, PO Box 487, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37401). Spring 1990, page 2.


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HLI staff writers bring you stories from the mission field and the latest information on life and family issues. All HLI articles are true to Catholic teaching.

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