The medical termination of a pregnancy or abortion is a subject that evokes strong reactions from people due to their political or religious beliefs, personal convictions and so on. While the pro-life (anti abortion) lobby is at pains to outline the many grim consequences of abortion, the pro-choice lobby presents a different view.
What are the medical consequences of abortion?
The possible complications that can arise from an abortion and its possible impact on future reproductive health and possible negative consequences for the health of the woman undergoing abortion are issues that are often sought to be highlighted.
Yet research shows that an abortion actually holds out fewer chances of complications and less threat to maternal health than carrying a baby to term. This applies to safe abortions performed by skilled and experienced individuals using proper equipment.
In this sense, the consequences of abortion are not pernicious to the health of a woman.
However there are possible medical consequences of terminating a pregnancy that could impact fertility and future pregnancies, which a woman contemplating abortion should be fully aware of.
Possible complications include uterine perforation, incomplete abortion, and pelvic infection. Complications are rare but women should be aware of their possibility.
There is also the claim that abortion is connected to increased breast cancer risk. However current research does not support this view, and so far, there is no link found to exist between breast cancer and abortion; and this remains a view that is sought to be promoted mainly by pro-life groups.
What women need to be aware of are the possible negative consequences of abortion that are performed in unsafe or surreptitious manners. It is estimated that unsafe abortion causes about 68,000 deaths each year and millions of injuries as well. Unsafe abortion includes self induced abortions that use trauma, herbal decoctions, abdominal massage, going to untrained abortionists, inserting objects into the uterus through the vagina and so on.
An unsafe abortion is also that which is performed beyond the limitations of gestational age. For instance a medical abortion performed with mifepristone and misoprostol is safe only till 49 days of gestation after which it becomes unsafe. Vacuum aspiration is also advisable to be performed within the first trimester after which its safety reduces.
Consequences of abortion to mental health
Depending upon a woman’s personal convictions, her religious and political views and personal circumstances, women may contemplate abortion differently. Though pro-life groups seek to show that a woman’s mental health may suffer as a result of opting for abortion, and claim the existence of a post-abortion syndrome, studies have not been able to show any link between the tow.
Consequences of abortion such as negative feelings are more likely to occur when a woman has certain emotional attachment to the pregnancy, has a pre-existing mental illness, lacks social support of her decision, or herself has conservative views about abortion.
According to the American Psychological Association, reactions to abortion are no more or less severe than those evoked by other stresses that a woman may encounter in life; particularly with regard to a first, unplanned pregnancy.