The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued a major decision striking down a Texas law that restricted abortion access in the state. A significant element of the Texas law argued that abortions are so dangerous that doctors need to have special hospital privileges to perform the procedure.
But are abortions really that risky? Trace Dominguez checks the numbers in today's DNews report.
Statistically speaking, the risks of early-term abortion as a medical procedure are roughly similar to plastic surgery, dental work or even running a marathon. According to a study from the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, childbirth itself is 14 times more dangerous than abortion.
Another study tracked emergency room visits in the six weeks after an abortion procedure and found that only 0.87 percent of women had emergency followup issues. In 170,000 procedures studied by the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, only 0.58 percent of procedures resulted in minor complications.
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Abortions do carry a risk for future pregnancies, however. A 2003 study found that an abortion procedure ups the risk of a subsequent miscarriage by about two percent. By comparison, smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage by 11 percent.
The major risk with abortion concerns infection. If a procedure fails to remove all the fetal and placental tissue, it's likely to become infected the body's immune system will attack. Multiple abortions increases risks across the board.
In terms of public policy, abortion has always been controversial. But as a medical procedure, it's relatively safe. Which is good -- statistics show that nearly half of all women in the U.S. will have an abortion in their lifetime.
-- Glenn McDonald
NBC News: Doctors Work To Regroup After Texas Abortion Law Struck Down
The New York Times: Abortion Restrictions In States
TIME: Why Abortion Is Less Risky Than Childbirth