Several studies have analysed the possible relationship between the history of pregnancies, miscarriages and induced abortion, and the risk of suffering certain disorders, as well as the mortality rates in specific populations of women.

Metodology: Bring toghter 68 scientifcs studies about the matter

A very statistically robust systematic review has attempted to bring together these studies in order to draw representative conclusions on the impact of abortions — both spontaneous (“miscarriage”) and induced (“terminations of pregnancy” [TOP]) — on the subsequent frequency of onset of particular health problems and mortality rates in women who have experienced a pregnancy, as well as the possible relationship between the number of failed pregnancies and the increase in these risks in that same woman.[1]

The study identified a total of 68 articles that had related the number of pregnancies that ended in births and those that ended in abortion with the prevalence of disorders and mortality in affected women.


The loss of a child after an induced abortion has twice the risk of death in the year following the abortion compared to that of a miscarriage


After analysing the data in the different papers selected, the authors concluded that a correlation could be established between abortions (both miscarriages and TOP) and an increased risk of death or onset of certain disorders in the women analysed. Furthermore, this risk seemed to be dose-dependent: it was significantly higher in those women who had had two or more losses in previous pregnancies.

The risk of death during pregnancy and in the year following the abortion was compared with that of women who had had a live birth. In women who had undergone an induced abortion (TOP), this risk was 170% higher with respect to those who had had a live birth, and 84% higher with respect to full-term deliveries in the case of miscarriages. That is, the loss of a child after an induced abortion has twice the risk of death in the year following the abortion compared to that of a miscarriage.

Comparing groups of women who had had miscarriages or induced abortions with those who had had live births was also revealing. This meta-analysis showed that mortality in women who had had a miscarriage or induced abortion was more than double that of those who had had a live birth. Once again, the risk presented by women who had undergone an induced abortion was markedly higher than that of the women who had had miscarriages.

Among the causes of death in these women were suicide, accidents and homicides. There was a correlation between abortion and an increase in the onset of self-destructive behaviours, which may be behind the causes of death mentioned. A study conducted in the United Kingdom found that a high percentage of related accidental deaths were due to drug overdoses.

A significant finding of this meta-analysis is the “protective” effect of full-term pregnancies as regards the risk of death, since mortality was lower in women who had been mothers compared to those who had not been pregnant.

Regarding a possible relationship between the number of abortions per woman and their subsequent mortality rate, this study found the following: the mortality rate ratio in women who had had three or more induced abortions was 2.92 with respect to the reference group, corresponding to women who had not had any abortions; this ratio was 2.14 for two abortions, and 1.45 in the case of a single abortion. These figures were higher than those of the group of women who had had miscarriages, which were, respectively, 2.51, 1.87 and 1.44.

In the case of women who had had live births, the risk was lower compared to those who had not been pregnant, with ratios of 0.69 for mothers of three or more children, and 0.54 for mothers of two. There were no statistically significant data for mothers of only one child.

The authors revealed the difficulty in finding studies that report the risk of death following abortion, saying that efforts to legalise and extend abortion may be making it difficult to investigate and publish studies that try to establish this relationship.


Women who are coerced into having an abortion have a higher risk of experiencing serious complications


Finally, women who are coerced into having an abortion have a higher risk of experiencing serious complications, including self-destructive tendencies. Suicide rates, which were lower in women who had given birth, soared especially in those who had undergone induced abortions, as this review shows.

A cause-effect relationship between induced abortion and various health problems in women who undergo them has been established in previous studies.[2] This systematic review extends the analysis to abortion-related mortality rates, and it does so with high statistical reliability. Its conclusions should therefore be taken into account when assessing the need to ensure special care for women who have undergone an abortion in order to prevent the undesirable effects detailed in this paper, and in the information that should be made available to women and medical personnel involved in abortion practices.

Are harmful consequences of abortion known by mothers of children unwanted?

The consequences, particularly negative in cases of repeated induced abortions, should make both the scientific community and regulatory bodies reflect on the harmful consequences of abortion, which beyond procuring the death of an innocent, multiply the risks for the health and life of women who undergo one. This information should also be provided unfailingly to women who abort so that they can exercise their right of autonomy knowing the consequences of their decisions, of which they are presently either not fully informed, or which are directly omitted from the information given.

The evidence shown in this paper regarding the protective effect of full-term pregnancies on the health and life expectancy of women, both with respect to those who do not have children and those who have abortions, should also be underlined.

Julio Tudela

Bioethics Observatory – Institute of Life Sciences

References

[1]REARDON DC, THORP JM. Pregnancy associated death in record linkage studies relative to delivery, termination of pregnancy, and natural losses: A systematic review with a narrative synthesis and meta-analysis. SAGE open medicine.2017;5:2050312117740490.

[2] Aznar J, Cerdá G. Aborto y salud mental de la mujer. Acta Bioethica 2014;20(2):189-95

Photo: Angel Adoption Blog

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