List of Complications

This is a list of possible health complications associated to abortion

Bladder Injury

If your uterus is perforated, your urinary bladder can be perforated, too. This can also cause peritonitis (an inflamed, infected lining of the abdomen) with all of 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.

Breast Cancer

Women who have aborted have significantly higher rates of breast cancer later in life. Breast cancer has risen by 50% in America since abortion became legal in 1973.

Ectopic (Tubal) Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy is any pregnancy that occurs outside the uterus. After an abortion, you are 8 to 20 times more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy. If not discovered soon enough, an ectopic pregnancy ruptures, and you can bleed to death if you do not have emergency surgery. Statistics show a 30% increased risk of ectopic pregnancy after one abortion and a 160% increased risk of ectopic pregnancy 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.

Effects on Future Pregnancies

If you have an abortion:

  • You will be more likely to bleed in the first three months of future pregnancies.
  • You will be less likely to have a normal delivery in future pregnancies.
  • You will need more manual removal of placenta more often and there will be more complications with expelling the baby and its placenta.
  • Your next baby will be twice as likely to die in the first few months of life.
  • Your next baby will be three to four times as likely to die in the last months of his first year of life.
  • Your next baby may have a low birth weight.
  • Your next baby is more likely to be born prematurely with all the dangerous and costly problems that entails.

Failed 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.


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


This can occur if you have to have a blood transfusion after an abortion.


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

Laceration of the Cervix

About 1 out of 20 women suffer this during an abortion. This causes you to have nearly a 50/50 chance of miscarrying in your next pregnancy if it is not treated properly during that pregnancy. A high incidence of cervical damage from the abortion procedure has raised the incidence of miscarriage 30-40% in women who have had abortions.

More Miscarriages Later

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.

Perforation of the Uterus

Women suffer a perforated uterus in between 1 out of 40 and 1 out of 400 abortions. This almost always causes peritonitis (an inflamed, infected lining of the abdomen), similar to having a ruptured appendix.

Placenta Previa

Placenta previa occurs 6 to 15 times more often after a woman has had an abortion. In this condition your baby’s placenta lies over the exit from the uterus so that the placenta has to be delivered before the baby can get out. This causes the mother to bleed severely while the baby almost always dies, unless your obstetrician recognizes this condition and removes the baby by Caesarean section at just the right time in the pregnancy.

Post-Abortion Syndrome

Frequently after an abortion, women suffer a range of mental and psychological problems. These may include recurrent dreams of the abortion experience, avoidance of emotional attachment, relationship problems, sleep disturbances, guilt about surviving, memory impairment, hostile outbursts, suicidal thoughts or actions, depression, and substance abuse. These problems may occur days to years later.

Retained Products of Conception

If your doctor leaves pieces of the baby, placenta, umbilical cord, or amniotic sac in your body, you may develop pain, bleeding, or a low-grade fever. Besides antibiotics and possible hospitalization, you may require additional surgery to remove these remaining pieces.

RH Incompatibility

Your doctor should be sure of your baby’s Rh blood type if you are Rh-negative, so that he can protect you and your next baby against future Rh incompatibilities. These Rh incompatibilities can:

  • require that future babies will need transfusions soon after birth,
  • cause future babies to be born dead because of the incompatibilities,
  • cause future babies to die soon after birth because of the Rh incompatibility.

If your doctor doesn’t check the blood type of the baby you are going to abort, even in very early suction abortions done before eight weeks, fetal-maternal hemorrhage can occur, thereby sensitizing you if you are Rh-negative.

Severe, Rapid 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.


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 abortion is 3 to 4 times greater than that among women who have not aborted.

Unrecognized Ectopic Pregnancy

Your doctor may try to abort the baby but be unsuccessful because it is developing in your fallopian tube. Unfortunately this tubal pregnancy ruptures later and emergency surgery must be done to save your life. All women in their first trimester should have an ultrasound to make sure they do not have an ectopic pregnancy.

Young Women

Complication rates of abortion increase with younger, teen-age women. However, younger women who carry their babies to term have better births than older women if they get proper care. There is evidence that in 15 to 17 year old women, pregnancy may even be physically healthier than in women of older ages.

Information prepared by: Laurence J. Burns, D.O., Board Certified in Obstetrics & Gynecology, I. Dale Carroll, M.D., Board Certified in Obstetrics & Gynecology, Ronald E. Graeser, D.O., Board Certified in Family Practice.
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