Whole Woman’s Health, a chain of abortion facilities, posts misleading information on its website for women considering abortion. This deception could impact women’s future fertility. Listed below are some of the claims made on the abortion chain’s site:
There are lots of myths about the effects of an abortion. But here are some facts
- Unless there is a rare serious complication that was left untreated, there is no risk to future pregnancies or overall health…
- Abortions do not affect fertility.
- Having an abortion will not cause problems for future pregnancies like birth defects, miscarriage, infant death, etopic pregnancy, premature birth, or low birth weight.
WWH misspelled “ectopic,” but that’s not the only error here. Let’s examine some studies.
Pelvic inflammatory disease
Having an abortion puts a woman at risk for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). If a woman has an STD, abortion can cause the STD to worsen and turn into PID, or infection can result directly from the abortion. One study listed abortion as one of the main risk factors of PID.1
Another study, published in the prestigious British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, found that “pelvic inflammatory disease is the most frequent complication after induced abortion….”
One study found that 12% of women who develop PID became infertile. Another study found even higher numbers:
20% will develop tubal factor infertility, 20% will develop chronic pelvic pain, 10% will experience an ectopic pregnancy (this is 7 to 10 times the risk than among women who did not have PID, and the risk of tubal damage and infertility increases by 4 to 6 times).2
Even when PID isn’t a factor, ectopic or tubal pregnancies are more common in women who have had abortions. One study found that ectopic pregnancy was 60% more common in women who had abortions. A meta-analysis of three case-control studies showed a 70% increased risk of subsequent tubal pathology after abortion.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the UK’s foremost society of OBGYNs, is forthcoming about the risk of abortion and ectopic pregnancy, stating, “Postabortion infection may later result in tubal infertility or ectopic pregnancy….”
Another study found that 50.5% of women with ectopic pregnancies had previous induced abortions, a rate much higher than in the general population (which the study found to be around 6%). Another study found that women who aborted had double the risk for ectopic pregnancy than women who had no abortions.
A study from India found the highest rate of all. In that study, women who aborted had six times the rate of ectopic pregnancy. The study authors concluded that their research:
… clearly demonstrates the adverse effects of induced abortions on subsequent pregnancy, with increased incidence of [spontaneous] abortion, placenta previa, intrauterine growth retardation, preterm deliveries, and low birth weight babies.3
Problems with subsequent pregnancies weren’t limited to ectopic pregnancy.
Infection, damage to the cervix, and placenta previa
A study found that if a woman had an infection after an abortion, her chances of a subsequent pregnancy ending in a stillbirth increased by 379%.
Premature birth or miscarriage after abortion can be caused by a condition called an incompetent cervix. This is when a woman’s cervix, the muscle at the bottom of the womb that must be opened in abortion, is damaged. Since the intended function of the cervix is to hold the baby in the womb, if it fails during pregnancy, it can trigger premature birth or miscarriage. Multiple studies (too many to list here) show a link between abortion and subsequent premature birth.
One study found that D&E abortions had a rate of causing cervical trauma of 2.1%. This means that one woman out of 50 might suffer a damaged cervix. This would make one woman out of 50 at risk for a future premature birth or stillbirth. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists gives the number as one out of 100, but their statistic includes first trimester abortions.
If the cervix is dilated to 9 millimeters during an induced abortion prior to the evacuation of the fetus, there will be a fall in cervical resistance in 12.5% of patients. Dilating the cervix to 11 millimeters leads to decreased cervical resistance in two thirds (66.7%) of the women.
In a D&E abortion, the cervix has to be dilated enough to allow the passage of larger body parts. The potential risk to the woman’s cervix would be especially high at Whole Woman’s Health, because the abortion chain offers to do some D&E abortions in one day, meaning they do not use laminaria to dilate the woman’s cervix gradually overnight.
A study in the journal Reproduction found:
… a sharp increase in cervical insufficiency with each prior induced abortion over the baseline rate of cervical insufficiency: a 149% increase after one previous pregnancy termination, a 366% increase after two terminations, a 707% increase after 3 terminations, and an 1136% increase after four or more terminations.4
Another study found an increased risk of low birth weight after abortions.
Placenta previa is another risk from abortion. One study found that abortion could cause scarring and adhesions on the uterine wall which can “impede proper placentation in subsequent pregnancies.”
Another study which found a greater risk of placenta previa after a past abortion noted, “Placenta previa is the leading cause of uterine bleeding during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. It increases the likelihood of preterm birth, low birth weight, and perinatal death.”
Another study showed a 30% increased risk of placenta previa after a past abortion. An analysis of multiple studies found an increased risk of 70%. A review of eight American studies found an increased risk of 50%.
There is also the possibility that an infection acquired during an abortion could be transmitted to the baby in a future pregnancy. One study found that babies conceived after a mother’s abortion were 300% more likely to develop an intra-amniotic infection. A baby born with such an infection is twice as likely to die after birth and more than twice as likely to suffer sepsis, a severe systemic infection.
A case-control study of neonatal sepsis with the Washington State Birth Registry showed a “significant increase” in the risk of neonatal sepsis following an abortion, even though the researchers controlled for other factors.
This article only discusses some of the many studies showing increased risks for future fertility problems due to abortion. Whole Woman’s Health is deceiving women.
Note: Many of these studies come from the book Complications: Abortion’s Impact on Women.
IK Nielsen, E Engdahl, T Larsen “[Pelvic Inflammation after Induced Abortion] Danish” Ugeskr Laeger September 28, 1992; 154 (40): 2743 – 6
Angela Lanfranchi, Ian Gentles and Elizabeth Ring – Cassidy Complications: Abortion’s Impact on Women, Second Ed.: Revised and Updated (Toronto, Canada: The deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research, 2018); citing L Dayan “Pelvic Inflammatory Disease” Australian Family Physician 2006; 35 (11): 858 – 62
LK Dhaliwal, KR Gupta, S Gopalan “Induced Abortion and Subsequent Pregnancy Outcome” Journal of Family Welfare 2003; 49 (1): 50 – 5
Angela Lanfranchi, et al. Complications
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