Groundbreaking research proves that abortion is an extremely safe procedure

December 11, 2014

In the most comprehensive look yet at the safety of abortion, researchers at the UCSF Bixby Center found that the procedure is incredibly safe. In a new study published this week, Bixby Center researchers found that major complications from abortion are rare, occurring less than a quarter of one percent of procedures. This is:

  • About the same frequency of complications as for colonoscopies.
  • Less frequent than complications for wisdom tooth removal and tonsillectomy.

Although these new data are similar to what has been found in previous studies, this is the first study to examine complete data on all of the health care used by women who have received abortions. Since some women must travel long distances to find abortion providers, they tend to receive any needed follow-up care at facilities closer to where they live. For many women, this means their local emergency department. But, up until now, no study has systematically examined emergency department use for post-abortion care.

The researchers said they expect the study to contribute to the national debate over abortion safety. Many state legislatures have recently passed laws increasing various requirements for providers and clinics, purportedly to increase patient safety. But the researchers said that these laws were likely to make women travel further to get abortions or induce them on their own using unsafe methods, both of which may increase the risks for women. The policy debate over abortion restrictions in the United States will be better informed by weighing any theoretical and small reduction in patient risk against the increased risk to women’s health that occurs with reduced access to abortion care.