A new study has found that women having second trimester medication abortions face no increased risk of future premature birth, miscarriage, low birth weight, or placental complications when compared to first trimester medication abortions. The study, to be published in the journal Contraception, examined the public health records of 88,552 Finnish women who, between 2000 and 2009, became pregnant for the first time, had either first or second trimester medication abortions, and subsequently went on to carry pregnancies to term.
Previous studies have found no increased risk of premature birth, low birth weight, or miscarriage in pregnancies following a first trimester medication abortion, and no increased risks comparing first trimester medication abortion with first trimester surgical abortion.
The new study, entitled Medical Termination of Pregnancy During the Second Versus the First Trimester and Its Effects on Subsequent Pregnancy, and conducted by a team led by Finnish researchers Jaana Mannist, MD, and Maarit Mentula, MD, PhD. is the largest available analysis of such risks. In conducting their analysis, the authors sought to correct for methodological flaws found in some earlier studies, such as failure to distinguish between the method of termination of pregnancy or the gestational age at which the pregnancy was terminated. The researchers concluded that their results suggest that second trimester medication abortion in a first pregnancy is “not associated with altered risks of preterm birth, low birth weight, SGA [smaller-for-gestational age] infants or placental complications in subsequent pregnancy, compared with first trimester.”
“The data,” they continue, “are of value when counseling women undergoing second trimester [abortion]. The question of whether or not MTOP [medical termination of pregnancy] during the second trimester is safer than surgical TOP [termination of pregnancy] in terms of adverse events in the next pregnancy remains to be studied.”
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The results of this study directly contradict persistent efforts by some legislators to either ban outright, legislate the administration of, or interfere in the delivery of medication abortion, all in the name of health and safety.