Thursday, May 12, 2011

Abortion Safety Questions and Answers

Q: Isn't Having an Abortion Safer Than Childbirth?

According to Jezebel, the claim "Abortion is safer than childbirth" comes from 2002 CDC statistics. In 2002, the CDC recorded 9 deaths out of 845,573 abortions. That's a little over 1 in 100,000. Also in 2002, the CDC recorded 8.9 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births. From there, they deduct carrying a child to term was about 9 times more dangerous than having an abortion. However, there are some issues with this approach and deduction, with the comparison of abortion mortality and maternal mortality rates. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control report for pregnancy-related mortality rates: "In this report, a woman's death was classified as pregnancy-related if it occurred during pregnancy or within 1 year of pregnancy and resulted from 1) complications of the pregnancy, 2) a chain of events that was initiated by the pregnancy, or 3) the aggravation of an unrelated condition by the physiologic effects of the pregnancy or its management". This means pregnancy-related mortality rates are broadly defined to included the following: aggravation of a maternal pre-existing, non-pregnancy-related medical condition, pregnancy-induced maternal medical condition, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, still birth, post-partum complications, and includes induced abortion. Therfore the maternal mortality rates are inflated and we are not comparing with the pregnancy mortality rate alone. In addition, regarding the CDC and AGI reports for Induced Abortions, mortalities resulting from induced abortion are typically under-reported as such. One reason is that a medical examiner may code the underlying cause of death on the autopsy report as the complication alone, i.e. embolism, septsis, hemorrhage, or anesthesia complications, rather than correctly as a legally induced abortion with specified complication. A good explination of this can be found here. Therefore it is misleading to compare pregnancy-related mortality rates to abortion mortality rates to obtain the conclusion that abortion is safer than childbirth.

Q: How Safe Is Having an Abortion?
Mortality and morbidity depend on gestational age (GA) at time of abortion. In the US, mortality rates per 100,000 abortions are as follows: (1) fewer than 8 weeks, 0.5; (2) 11-12 weeks, 2.2; (3) 16-20 weeks, 14; and (4) more than 21 weeks, 18. Let me put this into perspective for you. Consider that in 2002, 1.3 million abortions were preformed and 430,000 spontaneous abortions occured in the United States, (source: Unintended Pregnancy Statistics) for this purpose, a total of 1.73 million, correlating the number of total spontaneous and elective abortions to the above mortality rates for spontaneous and elective abortions <-- 0.5 in 100,00 is equivalent to 1 in 200,000, divide 1.73 million by 200,00 and so on --> this translates to the following statistic number of mortalities (or deaths) which occur for spontaneous and elective abortions (but keep in mind the actual numbers may be higher or lower), (1) fewer than 8 weeks, 8.7 deaths, (2)11-12 weeks, 38 deaths, (3) 16-20 weeks, 242 deaths, 4) more than 21 weeks, 311 deaths. To put a face on these deaths, the Real Choice website features the names and cases of women killed during abortions.

According to the CDC Abortion Surveillance taken during the years 1972 to 2002, the total number of deaths due to legal induced abortion were highest before the 1980s (despite widespread legalization in 1973) and during the years 1972 to 2002 there were more deaths due to legal abortions than illegal abortions, with a steady trend of of 12.6 abortion deaths average a year in the United States (see table 19), however the CDC admits that because these data are reported voluntarily, several limitations and under-reporting exist (see Limitations). Medscape's continuing medical education website, E-Medicine, features the following complication and mortality statistics for abortion:

Abortion Complications: complications of spontaneous and therapeutic abortions include (1) complications of anesthesia, (2) postabortion triad (ie, pain, bleeding, low-grade fever), (3) hematometra, (4) retained products of conception, (5) uterine perforation, (6) bowel and bladder injury, (7) failed abortion, (8) septic abortion, (9) cervical shock, (10) cervical laceration, and (11) disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC). Frequency of complications depends on gestational age at time of abortion and method of abortion. Reported complication rates according to gestational age at time of abortion are as follows: for 8 weeks and under - Less than 1% or less than 17,300 women will experience complications, for 8-12 weeks - 1.5 to 2% or 25,950 to 34,600 women, 12-13 weeks - 3 to 6% or 51,900 to 103,800 women, Second trimester - Up to 50% or 865,000 women, possibly higher.

H/T: Life Report's Link Party: On the Danger's of Abortion

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