Abortions conducted in the United States are safe, with only a few complications, according to a new study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
The landmark report took a closer look at the four major methods used for abortions: medications, aspiration, dilation and evacuation, and induction. Entitled “The Safety and Quality of Abortion Care in the United States,” then examined the quality of women’s care from before the procedure to after, and follow-up care, NPR reports.
Ned Calonge, co-chair of the committee that wrote the study and associate professor of family medicine and epidemiology at the University of Colorado and CEO of The Colorado Trust, said,
I would say the main takeaway is that abortions that are provided in the United States are safe and effective.
Calonge explained that the researchers found that 90% of all abortions take place in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and complications for all abortions in general are “rare.”
However, the report did find that state laws and regulations can actually interfere with safe abortion practices. It said, “Abortion-specific regulations in many states create barriers to safe and effective care.”
Often, these rules don’t even have medical research basis, Calonge said. “There are some requirements that require clinicians to misinform women of the health risks, that say you have to inform a woman that an abortion will increase her risk of breast cancer.”
There is no scientific evidence that breast cancer is linked to abortion, but five states require doctors to tell women so, the Guttmacher Institute said. Calonge added, “There are policies that mandate clinically unnecessary services like pre-abortion ultrasounds, separate inpatient counseling. There are required waiting periods.”
Guttmacher, a research group that focuses on reproductive and sexual health, says that 27 states make women wait for 24 hours for an abortion, and 11 states mandate ultrasounds before terminating pregnancies. There are also state laws that dictate who can perform abortions and where women can have them.
This study argues that waiting periods and unnecessary test requirements result in long delays, as women are forced to travel for care and may have trouble getting appointments. The National Academies report says, “Delays put the patient at greater risk of an adverse event.”
The report further stated that strict requirements regarding the prescription of the abortion pill mifepristone may need review, and that abortions have no long-term consequences on women’s physical or mental health.