Finding reliable information about the medical risks of a surgical abortion is not an easy job. Abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, present the surgical termination of pregnancy as a perfectly safe event. Pro-life advocates undoubtedly blow up the risks abortion can put women in beyond anything that can be scientifically confirmed. The true answer lies somewhere in the middle; abortion is generally safe in developed countries and accredited clinics, but there are risks and informed consent is important as always.
Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in America, says the following about abortion risks:
There are many myths about the risks of abortion. Here are the facts. Abortion does not cause breast cancer. Safe, uncomplicated abortion does not cause problems for future pregnancies such as birth defects, premature birth or low birth weight babies, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, or infant death.
While this statement is evidently true, it is also a little like saying that driving a car is not dangerous, unless something goes wrong. Safe, uncomplicated abortion does not cause problems. Potential abortion patients can keep the risks of surgical abortion to a minimum by choosing a reputable clinic, a skilled physician, and by asking questions about the procedure. What the risks of abortion are depends on how skilled your doctor is, how the procedure is carried out, and to some extent on the type of anesthesia a patient chooses.
The risks can include infection due to a lack of sterility, infection because the abortion was not complete (all fetal material was not removed), uterine perforation, and cervical laceration. Here are some questions to consider before undergoing an abortion:
- Is the clinic fully accredited by the relevant authorities?
- Sterility of the instruments is obviously important, but does the clinic use antisceptic on the vagina and perineum to ensure a sterile field as well? According to some, this has been a problem in abortion clinics.
- How skilled is the operator?
- How does the clinic ensure that all fetal material is removed, and that the uterine wall is not perforated?
- Many women find it easier to undergo an abortion under general anesthesia. However, there are many medical advantages to having a local anesthetic instead they include being able to communicate any serious symptoms you have immediately, and recovering sooner.