Serving the needs of women, men and families in Arcadia, Duarte, Monrovia, and foothill communities of the San Gabriel Valley

Abortion risks

Physical risks

Most commonly, abortion involves elective surgery. As with all forms of surgery, there are risks associated with the procedure. For abortion, these risks increase dramatically the later in the pregnancy the procedure is performed. Approximately 10% of women undergoing elective abortion will suffer immediate complications, of which approximately one-fifth (2%) are considered life threatening. Possible physical risks of abortion are listed below.

Immediate health risks

  • Death - Women who abort are approximately four times more likely to die in the following year than women who carry their pregnancies to term, according to a 1997 government funded study in Finland. More...
  • Uterine perforation - About 2% of all abortion patients may suffer perforation of their uterus, yet most of these injuries will remain undiagnosed and untreated unless laparoscopic visualization is performed.1
  • Cervical lacerations - Significant cervical lacerations requiring sutures occur in at least one percent of first trimester abortions. Lesser lacerations, or micro fractures, which would normally not be treated may also result in long term reproductive damage.2
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) - 23% of patients who have a chlamydia infection at the time of the abortion will develop PID within 4 weeks. About 20 to 27% of patients seeking abortion have a chlamydia infection. Approximately 5% of patients who are not infected by chlamydia develop PID within 4 weeks after a first trimester abortion.3
  • Endometritis (Infection) - Occurrence of genital tract infection following elective abortion is up to 5% for first trimester abortions and up to 18% in midtrimester. Endometritis is a post-abortion risk for all women, but especially for teenagers, who are 2.5 times more likely than women 20-29 to acquire endometritis following abortion.4 More...

Long-term health risks

  • Breast Cancer - The risk of breast cancer almost doubles after one abortion, and rises even further with two or more abortions. More...
  • Cervical, ovarian, and liver cancer - Women with one abortion face a 2.3 relative risk of cervical cancer, compared to non-aborted women, and women with two or more abortions face a 4.92 relative risk. Similar elevated risks of ovarian and liver cancer have also been linked to single and multiple abortions.5

Risks to future pregnancies

  • Pre-term delivery - Women who had one, two, or more previous induced abortions are, respectively, 1.89, 2.66, or 2.03 times more likely to have a subsequent pre-term delivery, compared to women who carry to term.6
  • Placenta previa - Abortion increases the risk of placenta previa in later pregnancies (a life threatening condition for both the mother and her baby) by seven to fifteen fold. Abnormal development of the placenta due to uterine damage increases the risk of fetal malformation, perinatal death, and excessive bleeding during labor.7
  • Ectopic pregnancy - Abortion is significantly related to an increased risk of subsequent ectopic pregnancies. Ectopic pregnancies, in turn, are life threatening and may result in reduced fertility.8



  1. Kaali, S. et al. 1989. The Frequency and Management of Uterine Perforations During First-Trimester Abortions. Am. J. Obstetrics and Gynecology 161:406-408.
    White, M. 1977. A Case-Control Study of Uterine Perforations documented at Laparoscopy. Am. J. Obstetrics and Gynecology 129:623.
  2. Schulz, K. et al. 1983. Measures to Prevent Cervical Injuries During Suction Curettage Abortion. The Lancet May 28, 1983, pp 1182-1184.
    Cates, W.  1986. The Risks Associated with Teenage Abortion. New England Journal of Medicine 309(11):612-624
    Castadot, R. 1986. Pregnancy Termination: Techniques, Risks, and Complications and Their Management. Fertility and Sterility 45(1):5-16.
  3. Frank, 1985. Induced Abortion Operations and Their Early Sequelae. Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners 35 (73):175-180.
    Grimes and Cates. 1986. Abortion: Methods and Complications. Human Reproduction, 2nd ed., pp. 796-813.
    Freedman, M.A. 1986. Comparison of complication rates in first trimester abortions performed by physician assistants and physicians. Am. J. Public Health 76 (5):550- 554.
  4. Burkman et al. 1977. Culture and Treatment Results in Endometritis Following Elective Abortion. Amer. Jour. OB/GYN 128 (5) 556-559.
    Burkman, et al. 1986. Morbidity Risk Among Young Adolescents Undergoing Elective Abortion. Contraception 30:99-105.
    Post-Abortal Endometritis and Isolation of Chlamydia Trachomatis. Obstetrics and Gynecology 68 (5):668- 690.
  5. M-G, Le, et al. 1984. Oral Contraceptive Use and Breast or Cervical Cancer: Preliminary Results of a French Case- Control Study, Hormones and Sexual Factors in Human Cancer Etiology, ed. J.P. Wolff, et al., Excerpta Medica New York pp.139-147.
    Parazzini, F. et al. 1989. Reproductive Factors and the Risk of Invasive and Intraepithelial Cervical Neoplasia. British Journal of Cancer 59:805-809.
    Stewart, H.L. et al. Epidemiology of Cancers of the Uterine Cervix and Corpus, Breast and Ovary in Israel and New York City. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 37(1):1-96.
    Fujimoto, I. et al. 1985. Epidemiologic Study of Carcinoma in Situ of the Cervix. Journal of Reproductive Medicine 30 (7):535.
    Weiss, N. 1983. Events of Reproductive Life and the Incidence of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer Am. J. of Epidemiology 117 (2):128-139.
    Beral, V. et al. 1978. Does Pregnancy Protect Against Ovarian Cancer. The Lancet May 20, 1978, pp. 1083-1087
    LaVecchia, C. et al. 1992. Reproductive Factors and the Risk of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Women. International Journal of Cancer 52:351.
  6. Zhou, W., et. al. 1999. Induced Abortion and Subsequent Pregnancy Duration. Obstetrics & Gynecology 94 (6):948-953.
  7. Barrett, et al. 1981 Induced Abortion: A Risk Factor for Placenta Previa. American Journal of Ob. & Gyn. 141:7.
  8. Daling, 1985. Ectopic Pregnancy in Relation to Previous Induced Abortion. JAMA 253 (7):1005-1008
    Levin, 1982 Ectopic Pregnancy and Prior Induced Abortion. American Journal of Public Health 72:253
    Chung, C.S. 1982. Induced Abortion and Ectopic Pregnancy in Subsequent Pregnancies. American Journal of Epidemiology 115(6):879-887.

Contacting us

You can call or e-mail us to make an appointment at our offices to discuss your options.

Foothills Pregnancy Resource Center
924 Buena Vista Street #202
Duarte, CA 91010
(626) 358-2122
(877) 358-2122 (toll-free)

Our office hours are:

Monday 11:00 a.m.—3:00 p.m.
Tuesday 2:00 p.m.—7:00 p.m.
Wednesday 11:00 a.m.—3:00 p.m. p.m.
Thursday 2:00 p.m.—7:00 p.m.
Friday 11:00 a.m.—3:00 p.m.
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed