Abortion is common in the U.S. It is estimated that 22% of all pregnancies in the U.S. end in abortion. However, despite laws designed to protect them, women are often not informed by the abortion provider of the short term, and long term, risks of abortion. There is a conflict of interest here, since most abortion providers make their living performing abortions, and sharing facts that may dissuade abortion is NOT in their best interest.
Abortions can be induced chemically, with pills. The first pill, RU-486, can terminate the baby's life, and then misoprostol makes the uterus expel the pregnancy. Mothers are often not told that the success rate varies based on the age of the baby - after 8 weeks, there is a 30% chance or greater that the 'abortion pills' will not work. Bleeding and cramping can be severe, and prolonged. Infection can be significant.
Surgical abortion is more common, and in many states is legal up until 20 weeks. Surgical abortion is often performed in clinics with minimal anesthesia, with the patient awake, and can be quite traumatic both physically and emotionally. The farther along the baby is, the more chance of infection, heavy bleeding, and uterine perforation. Of course perforation and infection complications can be severe. While rare, weakening of the cervix, scarring of the uterus, or pelvic infection can cause infertility, or future early or late miscarriage.
The long term effects of abortion are more common, and arguably more damaging. 55% of patients express guilt over their decision within 8 weeks, and 31% express regret. "Post Abortion Syndrome" refers to a group of emotional/social issues that occur with frequency after abortion. These include major depression, alcohol and drug abuse, suffering domestic violence, sexual dysfunction, relationship disorders and eating disorders. Approximately 15-25% of women who have had abortions will suffer from some of these issues.
Women who have had an abortion have more problems in future pregnancies. They are more likely to have placental problems that can lead to bleeding, C-section, and hysterectomy. They are more likely to suffer miscarriage, and preterm labor. They have a higher risk of breast cancer in the future.
If you are suffering a crisis pregnancy, or from Post Abortion Syndrome, there is help. Locally, Sav-a-Life in Anniston/Jacksonville (www.savalifecalhouncounty.com) provides resources in a supportive, non-judgemental environment.
If you are in a crisis pregnancy, we are here to help. Do not hesitate to contact us! If you need to talk, or need evaluation, we are here to love you, and help you - not to judge you! Millions of women have been the victims of abortion, but help is available!
Braden Richmond, MD, FACOG