Pennsylvanians for Human Life

Life-Threatening Risks of Abortion

Higher death risk, up to 7 times higher suicide

Compared to pregnant women who had their babies, pregnant women who aborted were ...

3.5 times more likely to die in the following year

1.6 times more likely to die of natural causes

6-7 times more likely to die of suicide

14 times more likely to die from homicide

4 times more likely to die of injuries related to accidents1

Another study found that, compared to women who gave birth, women who had abortions had a 62% higher risk of death from all causes for at least eight years after their pregnancies. Deaths from suicides and accidents were most prominent, with deaths from suicides being 2.5 times higher.2

Causes of death within a week — The leading causes of abortion-related maternal deaths within a week of abortion are hemorrhage, infection, embolism, anesthesia complications, and undiagnosed ectopic pregnancies.3

Cancer — Significantly increased risk of breast cancer, cervical cancer, and lung cancer (probably due to heavier smoking patterns after abortion).4

Immediate complications — About 10% suffer immediate complications; one-fifth are life-threatening:5



ripped or perforated uterus

cervical injury


anesthesia complications


endotoxic shock

chronic abdominal pain

second-degree burns

gastro-intestinal disturbances

Rh sensitization

31% suffer health complications— A recent study published in a major medical journal found that 31% of American women surveyed who had undergone abortions had health complications.6

80%-180% increase in doctor visits — Based on health care sought before and after abortion. On average, there is an

80% increase in doctor visits and a 180% increase in doctor visits for psychosocial reasons after abortion.7

Self-destructive lifestyles, spiraling health problems — Increased risk of promiscuity, smoking, drug abuse, and eating disorders, which all put the woman at increased risk for other health problems.8

Infertility and life-threatening reproductive risks

Abortion can damage reproductive organs and cause long-term and sometimes permanent problems that can put future pregnancies at risk. Women who have abortions are more likely to experience ectopic pregnancies, infertility, hysterecto- mies, stillbirths, miscarriages, and premature births than women who have not had abortions.9

Teens Face Higher Risk, 6 Times More Likely to Attempt Suicide

Teens 6 times more likely to attempt suicide— Teenage girls are 10 times more likely to attempt suicide if they have had an abortion in the last 6 months than are teens who have not had an abortion.10

Reproductive damage and other complications — Compared to teens who give birth, teens who abort are generally at higher risk of immediate complications and long-term reproductive damage after abortion than are older women.11

Elliot Institute Fact Sheets & Healing,

Higher risk of PID, 2.5 times higher risk of endometritis (a major cause of maternal death in future pregnancies)

— Teens are at higher risk for dangerous infections such as pelvic inflammatory disease and endometritis after abortion. These infections increase their risk of infertility, hysterectomy, ectopic pregnancy, and other serious complications.12

Overview of reproductive complications and problems with subsequent deliveries

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease — Abortion puts women at risk of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is a serious, life- threatening disease and a major direct cause of infertility. PID also increases risk of ectopic pregnancies. Studies have found that approximately one-fourth of women who have a chlamydia infection at the time of their abortion and 5% of women who don’t have chlamydia will develop PID within four weeks after the abortion.13

Placenta Previa — After abortion, there is a seven- to 15-fold increase in placenta previa in subsequent pregnancies (a

life-threatening condition for both the mother and her wanted pregnancy). Abnormal development of the placenta due to uterine damage increases the risk of birth defects, stillbirth, and excessive bleeding during labor.14

Ectopic Pregnancy — Post-abortive women have a significantly increased risk of subsequent ectopic pregnancies,15 which are life threatening and may result in reduced fertility.

Endometritis, a Major Cause of Death — Abortion can result in for endometritis, which can lead to hospitalization and infertility problems. It is a major cause of maternal death during pregnancy.16

Women who abort twice as likely to have pre-term or post-term deliveries.17

Women who had one, two, or more previous induced abortions are, respectively, 1.89, 2.66, or 2.03 times more likely to have a subsequent pre-term delivery, compared to women who carry to term. Pre-term delivery increases the risk of neonatal death and handicaps. The average hospital charge from delivery to discharge for a premature birth is $58,000, compared to $4,300 for a full-term birth.

Women who had one, two, or more induced abortions are, respectively, 1.89, 2.61, and 2.23 times more likely to have a post-term delivery (over 42 weeks).

Death or disability of newborns in later pregnancies — Cervical and uterine damage may increase the risk of prema- ture delivery, complications of labor, and abnormal development of the placenta in later pregnancies.16 These complica- tions are the leading causes of disabilities among newborns.

The Elliot Institute was involved in all of the studies listed above. For more information on this research, including citations and links to the published studies, visit

Detrimental Effects -- Quick-Reference Summary of Available Research

Additional research summaries are available in the book “Detrimental Effects of Abortion: An Annotated Bibliography with Commentary,” edited by Thomas W. Strahan. To order, call Acorn Books: 1-888-412-2676..

Citations for Physical Risks of Abortion Fact Sheet

1. M Gissler et. al., “Pregnancy Associated Deaths in Finland 1987-1994 -- definition problems and benefits of record linkage,” Acta Obsetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica 76:651-657, 1997; Mika Gissler, Elina Hemminki, Jouko Lonnqvist, “Suicides after pregnancy in Finland: 1987-94: register linkage study” British Medical Journal 313:1431-4, 1996; and M. Gissler, “Injury deaths, suicides and homicides associated with pregnancy, Finland 1987-2000,” European J. Public Health 15(5):459-63, 2005 .
2. DC Reardon et. al., “Deaths Associated With Pregnancy Outcome: A Record Linkage Study of Low Income Women,” Southern Medical

Journal 95(8):834-41, Aug. 2002.

3. Kaunitz, “Causes of Maternal Mortality in the United States, Obstetrics and Gynecology 65(5), May 1985
4. H.L. Howe, et al., "Early Abortion and Breast Cancer Risk Among Women Under Age 40," International Journal of Epidemiology 18(2):300-
304, 1989; L.I. Remennick, "Induced Abortion as A Cancer Risk Factor: A Review of Epidemiological Evidence," Journal of Epidemiological Community Health 1990; M.C. Pike, "Oral Contraceptive Use and Early Abortion as Risk Factors for Breast Cancer in Young Women," British Journal of Cancer 43:72, 1981; M-G, Le, et al., "Oral Contraceptive Use and Breast or Cervical Cancer: Preliminary Results of a French Case- Control Study, Hormones and Sexual Factors in Human Cancer Etiology ed. JP Wolff, et al., (New York, Excerpta Medica,1984) 139-147; F. Parazzini, et al., "Reproductive Factors and the Risk of Invasive and Intraepithelial Cervical Neoplasia," British Journal of Cancer 59:805-
809,1989; H.L. Stewart, et al., "Epidemiology of Cancers of the Uterine Cervix and Corpus, Breast and Ovary in Israel and New York City," Journal of the National Cancer Institute 37(1):1-96; I. Fujimoto, et al., "Epidemiologic Study of Carcinoma in Situ of the Cervix," Journal of Reproduc- tive Medicine 30(7):535, July 1985; N. Weiss, "Events of Reproductive Life and the Incidence of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer," Am. J. of Epidemiology,
117(2):128-139, 1983; V. Beral, et al., "Does Pregnancy Protect Against Ovarian Cancer," The Lancet 1083-7, May 20, 1978; C. LaVecchia, et al., "Reproductive Factors and the Risk of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Women," International Journal of Cancer 52:351, 1992.
5. Frank,, "Induced Abortion Operations and Their Early Sequelae," Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners 35(73):175-180, April 1985; Grimes and Cates, "Abortion: Methods and Complications", in Human Reproduction, 2nd ed., 796-813; M.A. Freedman, "Comparison of complication rates in first trimester abortions performed by physician assistants and physicians," Am. J. Public Health 76(5):550-554, 1986).
6. VM Rue et. al., “Induced abortion and traumatic stress: A preliminary comparison of American and Russian women,” Medical Science Monitor
10(10): SR5-16, 2004.
7. P. Ney,, "The Effects of Pregnancy Loss on Women's Health," Soc. Sci. Med. 48(9):1193-1200, 1994; Badgley, Caron, & Powell, Report of the Committee on the Abortion Law (Ottawa: Supply and Services, 1997) 319-321.
8. T. Burke with D. Reardon, Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion (Springfield, IL: Acorn Books, 2002), see ch. 13 and 15.
9. Strahan, T. Detrimental Effects of Abortion: An Annotated Bibliography with Commentary (Springfield, IL: Acorn Books, 2002) 168-206.
10. B. Garfinkle, Stress, Depression and Suicide: A Study of Adolescents in Minnesota (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Extension Service,
11. Wadhera, "Legal Abortion Among Teens, 1974-1978", Canadian Medical Association Journal 122:1386-1389,June 1980; 13. E. Belanger, et. al., “Pain of First Trimester Abortion: A Study of Psychosocial and Medical Predictors,” Pain, 36:339; G.M. Smith, et. al., “Pain of first-trimester abortion: Its quantification and relationships with other variables,” American Journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, 133:489, 1979; R.T. Burkman, et. al., “Morbidity Risk Among Young Adolescents Undergoing Elective Abortion,” Contraception, 30(2):99, 1984; and K.F. Schulz, et. al., and “Measures to Prevent Cervical Injury During Suction Curettage Abortion,” The Lancet, 1182-1184, May 28, 1993 .
12. Burkman, et al., "Morbidity Risk Among Young Adolescents Undergoing Elective Abortion" Contraception 30:99-105, 1984; R.T. Burkman, et. al., “Culture and treatment results in endometritis following elective abortion,” American J. Obstet. & Gynecol., 128:556, 1997; and D. Avonts
and P. Piot, “Genital infections in women undergoing induced abortion,” European J. Obstet. & Gynecol. & Reproductive Biology, 20:53, 1985; W. Cates, Jr., “Teenagers and Sexual Risk-Taking: The Best of Times and the Worst of Times,” Journal of Adolescent Health, 12:84, 1991; and “Teenage Pregnancy: Overall Trends and State-by-State Information,” Report by the Alan Guttmmacher Institute, Washington, DC,
13. Radberg, et al., "Chlamydia Trachomatis in Relation to Infections Following First Trimester Abortions," Acta Obstricia Gynoecological (Supp.
93), 54:478, 1980; L. Westergaard, "Significance of Cervical Chlamydia Trachomatis Infection in Post-abortal Pelvic Inflammatory Disease," Obstetrics and Gynecology 60(3):322-325, 1982; M. Chacko, et al., "Chlamydia Trachomatosis Infection in Sexually Active Adolescents: Prevalence and Risk Factors," Pediatrics 73(6), 1984; M. Barbacci, et al., "Post-Abortal Endometritis and Isolation of Chlamydia Trachomatis," Obstetrics and Gynecology 68(5):668-690, 1986; S. Duthrie, et al., "Morbidity After Termination of Pregnancy in First-Trimester," Genitourinary Medicine
63(3):182-187, 1987.
14. Barrett, et al., "Induced Abortion: A Risk Factor for Placenta Previa", American Journal of Ob&Gyn. 141:7, 1981.
15. Daling,, "Ectopic Pregnancy in Relation to Previous Induced Abortion", J. American Medical Association 253(7):1005-1008, Feb. 15,
1985; Levin,, "Ectopic Pregnancy and Prior Induced Abortion", American J. Public Health 72:253, 1982; C.S. Chung, "Induced Abortion and
Ectopic Pregnancy in Subsequent Pregnancies," American J. Epidemiology 115(6):879-887 (1982).
16. "Post-Abortal Endometritis and Isolation of Chlamydia Trachomatis," Obstetrics and Gynecology 68(5):668- 690, 1986); P. Sykes, “Complica- tions of termination of pregnancy: a retrospective study of admissions to Christchurch Women’s Hospital, 1989 and 1990,” New Zealand Medical Journal 106: 83-85, March 10, 1993; S Osser and K Persson, “Postabortal pelvic infection associated with Chlamydia trachomatis infection and
the influence of humoral immunity,” Am J Obstet Gynecol 150:699, 1984; B. Hamark and L Forssman, “Postabortal Endometritis in Chlamydia- Negative Women- Association with Preoperative Clinical Signs of Infection,” Gynecol Obstet Invest 31:102-105, 1991; and Strahan, Detrimental Effects of Abortion: An Annotated Bibliography With Commentary (Springfield, IL: Acorn Books, 2002) 169.
17. Zhou, Weijin, et. al., "Induced Abortion and Subsequent Pregnancy Duration," Obstetrics & Gynecology 94(6):948-953, Dec. 1999.
18. Hogue, Cates and Tietze, "Impact of Vacuum Aspiration Abortion on Future Childbearing: A Review", Family Planning Perspectives 15(3), May-June 1983.

Counseling-The best advice to any woman considering abortion is to look at all your options. Those who consider abortion a safe simple solution to an untimely pregnancy too often find themselves living with consequences they had not anticipated.

Complications of Abortion Include the Physical and Psychological Complications Listed Below as Well as Effects on Relationships. In order to make an informed decision, one considering abortion can examine possible complications to herself, her unborn child, her ability to have future children and her relationship with the child's father and her own parents.

Options such as adoption, living at a maternity home for those who have no place to stay or who feel they are being pressured to abort their children also exist and need to be explored.

Bladder Injury
Bowel Injury
Ectopic Tubal Pregnancy
Consider Adoption
Pregnancy Help Centers

Bladder Injury
If your uterus is perforated, your urinary bladder can be perforated too. This also can cause peritonitis (an inflamed, infected lining of the abdomen), with all its pain, dangers and necessary reparative surgery.

Bowel Injury
If your uterus is perforated, your intestines can be perforated too. This will cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, blood in stool, peritonitis (an inflamed, infected lining of the abdomen) and death if not treated quickly enough. A portion of the intestine may have to be taken out, and a temporary or permanent colostomy may be put in your abdomen.

Ectopic Tubal Pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy is any pregnancy that occurs outside the uterus. After an abortion women are 8 to 20 times more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy. If not discovered soon enough, an ectopic pregnancy ruptures, and she can bleed to death without emergency surgery. Statistics show a 30% increased risk of ectopic pregnancy after one abortion and a 160% increased risk after two or more abortions. There has been a threefold increase in ectopic pregnancies in the U.S. since abortion was legalized. In 1970 the incidence was 4.8 per 1,000 live births. By 1980 it was 14.5 per 1,000 births.

One to fourteen percent of women requires a blood transfusion due to bleeding from an abortion.

Severe Bleeding
You may develop DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulopathy) from your abortion. This means your blood does not clot and you will bleed uncontrollably. DIC is extremely life threatening and difficult to treat. It occurs in 2 out of 1,000 second trimester abortions and in 6.6 out of 1,000 (nearly 1-in-150) saline installation abortions.

Mild fever and sometimes death occurs when there is an infection from an abortion. This happens in anywhere from 1-in-4 women and 1-in-50 women.

Incomplete Abortion
Failure to successfully abort the unborn younger than 6 weeks is relatively common. Sometimes, an abortionist fails to evacuate the placenta from the uterus. This means the pregnancy continues even though mother has endured the dangers and cost of an abortion.

After an abortion you may become sterile. This happens in 1-out-of-20 to 1-out-of-50 women. The risk of secondary infertility among women with at least one induced abortion is 3-4 times greater than that among women who have not aborted.

This can occur in women who need a blood transfusion after their abortion.

Perforation of the Uterus
Between 1-out-of-40 and 1-out-of-400 women who abort suffer a perforated uterus. This almost always causes peritonitis (an inflamed, infected lining of the abdomen), similar to having a ruptured appendix.

Miscarriage of Future Pregnancies
Women who have had two or more abortions have twice as many first trimester miscarriages in later pregnancies. There is a ten-fold increase in the number of second trimester miscarriages in pregnancies that follow a vaginal abortion.

Deleterious Effects on Future Pregnancies
If you have an abortion:
  1. You will be more likely to bleed in the first three months of future pregnancies.
  2. You will be less likely to have a normal delivery in future pregnancies.
  3. You will need more manual removal of placenta more often and there will be more complications with expelling the baby and its placenta.
  4. Your next baby will be twice as likely to die in the first few months of life.
  5. Your next baby will be three to four times as likely to die in the last months of his first year of life.
  6. Your next baby may have a low birth weight.
  7. Your next baby is more likely to be born prematurely with all the dangerous and costly problems that entail.

Psychological Consequences Including Suicide

Follow ProLifeScranton on Twitter
Find us on Facebook
Victory for Life