Cases of women visiting emergency rooms for complications related to abortion care are extremely rare, and the rate of major medical complications resulting from abortion are almost nonexistent, according to a new study.
The authors of the study, published on Thursday in the journal BMC Medicine, concluded that regulation of abortion care is unlikely to have any impact on pregnant people’s health outcomes, and that “perceptions that abortion is unsafe are not based on evidence.”
The study is the latest piece of mounting evidence that demonstrates that abortion is a safe and well-regulated procedure. This flies in the face of evidence-free claims from abortion rights foes that the common medical procedure is dangerous, requiring stringent regulations.
Researchers analyzed data from nearly 190 million emergency rooms visits by women of reproductive age between 2009 and 2013, and found that about 0.01 percent were related to abortion.
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Ushma Upadhyay, associate professor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and lead author of the study, said in a statement that lawmakers in several states have used alleged safety concerns to justify the passage of laws creating burdensome regulations for abortion providers.
“However, this research directly combats the presumption that abortion is unsafe, and therefore, laws implemented or being considered for safety reasons are not actually founded in science,” Upadhyay said. “Lawmakers should reference these data when drafting policy in the future, relying on science rather than misconceptions to protect women’s health.”
Lawmakers in states across the United States over the past decade have passed hundreds of laws restricting access to abortion care with policies that are not based on scientific evidence, and often written by anti-choice legislative mills.
A study published in May concluded there’s no evidence people who receive abortion care are at higher risk of developing suicidal ideation than those who were unable to obtain abortion services. A study published in 2014 found that “major complications” after legal abortion care are extremely rare, and that legal abortion care has a “very low complication rate.”
Alyson McGregor, director for the Division of Sex and Gender in Emergency Medicine at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School Department of Emergency Medicine and co-author of the study, said it’s not unusual for patients to seek follow-up care in an emergency room. They’re typically sent home with no need for further care.
“Nothing about that practice suggests any need for increased or particular regulation of abortion, especially given all the data demonstrating its safety,” McGregor said in a statement.
The study was conducted by researchers at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health at UCSF, and Brown University’s Alpert Medical School, Department of Emergency Medicine.