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Complications During Abortion are Rare: Study

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A new study shows that complications related to abortion are rare and occur less frequently compared to complications from other surgeries.

A team of researchers from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) conducted a data analysis of about 55,000 abortions performed between 2009 and 2010. The study also involved a follow-up service for all the participants in the six weeks following the procedure in order to trace any signs of complications.

Research suggests that 97 percent of the abortion cases were completed in doctor's offices or outpatient clinics and only three percent were done in hospitals.

The team found that just 2.1 percent of all the abortion cases led to some sort of complication. Moreover, only 0.23 percent of abortion-related complications that did occur required the patient to be hospitalized or get a blood transfusion.

The rate of abortion-related complications, the study reveals, is even lower than those arising from other common surgeries, such as tonsillectomies and wisdom tooth removal. Colonoscopies also have a complication rate of 0.35 percent, higher than abortion-related complications.

"Our study had very complete follow-up data on all of the women in it, and we still found a very low complication rate," says Ushma Upadhyay, an assistant professor at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), UCSF. "Abortion is very safe as currently performed, which calls into question the need for additional regulations that purportedly aim to improve safety."

The researchers believe that the latest study may result in a national debate surrounding the safety of abortion. Several states in the U.S. have passed laws that limit access to abortion facilities. However, the researchers also highlight that the strict laws in some states may lead women to travel to other states to get an abortion, which may involve unsafe methods and increase the risks to women.

California is among the 17 states that allow abortion and provide a six-week service post-abortion for patients who are enrolled with Medicaid. The state has over 500 abortion providers, and most of them perform abortions in an outpatient setting.

The study also highlights that abortions induced through medication yield a higher complication rate compared to those that involved surgery. The researchers also indicate that women in their 30s are at elevated risks of experiencing abortion-related complications compared to women in their 20s.

The study was published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

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