Bixby research confirms that abortion is a safe procedure

Every year 1.2 million women have elective abortions in the United States. While previous studies have provided data about abortion rates, investigators have been unable to track the incidence of complications following abortions. This gap is due to lack of follow up and because women often seek care from sources other than the original provider. To help fill this knowledge gap, researchers with the UCSF Bixby Center examined records for more than 50,000 abortions covered by California's Medicaid program to determine the rate of complications associated with procedure.

Ushma Upadhyay, PhD, MPH and colleagues from the Bixby Center's partner program ANSIRH (Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health) looked at reported complications and emergency department visits following abortion procedures. They considered a major complication one that required hospitalization, blood transfusion or surgery. The rate of major complications following an abortion was 0.25%—meaning that complications are rare and abortion is medically safe for women.

The study was the first ever to analyze abortion complications at a population level in the United States and with such a large number of women. Dr. Upadhyay presented the team's findings at the 2013 North American Forum on Family Planning. At the Forum, she stressed that because abortion is already a medically safe procedure, legislation enacting strict requirements for surgical centers and hospital admitting privileges are unlikely to increase safety for women. Also at the Forum, this research won the award for best scientific presentation.