New research shows major complications occur in less than a quarter of a percent of patients who get abortions, a number that is comparable to the risks associated with colonoscopies.
This is the first study in which researchers have based their conclusions on complete data on all health care used by women who received abortions and their post-abortion care, the University of California, San Francisco reported.
To make their findings the researchers looked at over 50,000 women enrolled in the Medi-Cal fee-for-service program who obtained abortions from 2009 to 2010 and kept an eye out for complications occurring within six weeks of the procedure.
The findings suggest making women travel farther to get abortions though newly-passed laws that require providers to have transfer agreements or privileges with hospitals or meet the requirements of an ambulatory surgical center could up the chances of self-induction.
"Our study had very complete follow-up data on all of the women in it, and we still found a very low complication rate," said Ushma Upadhyay, an assistant professor at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a program of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at UCSF. "Abortion is very safe as currently performed, which calls into question the need for additional regulations that purportedly aim to improve safety."
Out of the 54,911 abortions studied, only 126 cases involved major complications, which were characterized as those that required hospitalization or blood transfusions. Less than 2 percent of the abortions led to minor complications within two weeks of the procedure. Women in their 30s were slightly more likely to experience complications than those in their 20s, and medication abortions had a slightly higher rate of causing adverse effects.
The findings were published Dec. 8 in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.