Women can, and do, die as a result of induced abortion. For a one-year period (1998) the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the U.S.A reported 10 deaths as a result of legal abortion. (44) Taking this figure as an average and multiplying it by the number of years abortion has been legal in the U.S., gives a total of more than 300 deaths. Investigators believe the true number may be far higher than this, owing to ambiguous and misleading reporting on death certificates.
Evidence for this under-reporting is provided in Mark Crutcher's Lime 5, Exploited by Choice which subsequently became a 20:20 TV documentary exposé on the abortion industry. Even under the best medical conditions, an experienced practitioner performing a routine abortion may puncture the uterus, the bowel or the bladder, leading to haemorrhage, infection and/or possible death.
Abortion-related maternal mortality is generally under-reported. Crutcher and his researchers personally verified 23 deaths from induced abortion in 1992-1993 in the USA. All deaths were reported to State agencies. The documentation from State health departments shows that 18 deaths were reported to the federal Center for Disease Control.
However, the official report of the CDC lists only 2 deaths. At first the researchers attributed the difference to bureaucratic incompetence. After further examination, they documented that the flawed abortion data from the CDC was not due to ineptitude but dishonesty, as "a large percentage of CDC employees had direct ties to the abortion industry." (45)
The Journal of the American Medical Association had the following to report;
"Complications following abortions performed in free-standing abortion clinics are one of the most frequent gynecological emergencies encountered. Even life-endangering complications rarely come to the attention of the physician who per- formed the abortion, unless the incident entails litigation." (46)
A Scandinavian study on six of the countries which formed part of the Soviet Union - Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Belarussia and Ukraine - found the very high frequency of abortion contributes to the "deleterious" population decline and that maternal mortality remained "unacceptably high."
The researchers write:
"It is particularly worrying that induced abortions make up 20% - 35% of all maternal mortality." (47)
Causes of maternal deaths, arising specifically from induced abortion, range from haemorrhage and infection to embolism and cardiomyopathy. According to Atrash et al (48) approximately 14% of all deaths from legal abortion in the United States are due to anaesthesia complications.
They define abortion-related deaths as; deaths resulting from a direct complication; an indirect complication caused by events initiated by the abortion, or an aggravation, by the abortion, of a pre-existing condition.
Septicaemia is a well-recognised complication in the recently aborted mother. Farro and Pearlman list the infectious complications of abortion in their book Infections and Abortion (49) published in 1992. They listed the infectious complications as including Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), septic shock, renal failure, abscess formation, septic emboli and even death.
These complications are mentioned also in other reputable text books (50) and Victor Caraballo has written a most enlightening paper (51) on the presentation of severe septic complications in the emergency room setting.
Bleeding and haemorrhage are common after abortion. Blood transfusions are sometimes required. A report entitled Legal Abortion: A Critical Assessment of its Risks reported that 9.5% of post-abortive women needed blood transfusions after excessive bleeding. (52)
Childbirth is a normal process and the body is well prepared in advance for the separation and expulsion of placenta accompanying delivery.
Surgical abortion is an abnormal process that pries the unripe placenta from the muscle wall of the uterus in which it is entwined. This can cause the amniotic fluid to enter into the mother's circulation. Emboli can cause serious damage and even death. Pulmonary thromboembolism was the cause of eight female fatalities, as reported to the U.S. Center for Disease Control. (53)
A 1997 study (54) of pregnancy-associated deaths in Finland has shown that the risk of dying within a year after an abortion is several times higher than the risk of dying after childbirth or miscarriage. This carefully designed record-based study is from STAKES, the statistical analysis unit of Finland's National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health.
In an attempt to study the accuracy of maternal death reports, the researchers sought the death certificate records for all women of reproductive age (15-49) who died between 1987 and 1994 - a total of 9,192 women. They then trawled through the National Health Care database to identify any pregnancy-related events for each of these women in the 12 months prior to their deaths.
Since Finland has socialised medical care, it has accurate birth, death and abortion registries, thus allowing STAKES researchers to identify 281 women who had died within a year of their last pregnancy. They found the mortality rate per 100,000 to be 27 for women who had given birth, 48 for women who had miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies and 101 for women who had had abortions.
The table below shows ratios of women who died following childbirth, miscarriage and abortion. Compared to women who carry a pregnancy to term, those who abort are over 3.5 times more likely to die within a year. In other words the maternal death rate after abortion was more than three times greater than the maternal death rate after childbirth.
These findings, which were reported in prestigious British and Scandinavian medical journals, disprove the spurious claim that induced abortion is safer than childbirth.
44. Laurie D Elam Evans et al "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report", Nov 28 2003, Vol 52, No SS-12. Division of Reproductive Health, National centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion; Abortion Surveillance in the United States 2000.
45. Crutcher M, "Lime 5 - Exploited by Choice," Denton, Texas, Life Dynamics Inc, 1996, Genesis Publications, Chapter 4
46. Iffy L, "Second Trimester Abortions," JAMA, Vol 249, No 5
47. Mogilevkina I, Matkote S et al, "Induced abortions and childbirths: Trends in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Belarussia and the Ukraine during 1970 to 1994," Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandanavia, 1996 November, 75 (10): 908-11
48. Atrash H K, Hogue C J, "Legal abortion mortality and general anesthesia," American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1988 February, 158(2):420-4
49. Faro S, Pearlman M, "Infections and Abortion," New York: Elservier, 1992, p 42
50. Sweet R L and Gibbs R L, "Post-abortion Infection, Bacteremia and Septic Shock in Infectious Diseases of the Female Genital Tract," 3rd edition, Baltimore, Wilkins & Wilkins, 1995, 363-378
51. Caraballo V, "Fatal Myocardial Infarction resulting from Coronary Artery Septic Embolism after Abortion Unusual Cause and Complications of Endocarditis," Annals of Emergency Medicine, 29 (1): 175, January 1997
52. Stallworthy J A et al, "Legal abortion, a critical assessment of its risks," The Lancet, Dec 4 1971
53. Cates W et al, American Journal of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Vol 132, p 169
54. Gissler M, Kauppila R, Merilainen J, Toukomaa H, Hemminki E," Pregnancy-associated deaths in Finland 1987-1999," Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandanavia, August 1997;76 (7):651-7