After 40 Years of Roe vs. Wade, Abortion Still Hurts Women

Opinion   |   William Saunders and Mary Novick   |   Jan 17, 2013   |   4:15PM   |   Washington, DC

January 22 marks the 40th Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision creating a right to abortion. Along with its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, that “right” was extended throughout pregnancy – all nine months, for any reason. This makes the United States one of the four most radical nations in the world on abortion policy, along with China, North Korea, and Canada. In fact, most of the 195 nations limit abortion after about 20 weeks, because of the health risks to women and their child. Not only have over 50 million[i] babies lost their lives from abortion since 1973, but women are being put in harm’s way every day.

In the 40 years since Roe, we have amassed a plethora of medical evidence highlighting the harm to women from abortion. Some of the immediate and long-term medical risks to women include—hemorrhage, infections, organ damage, incomplete abortion, injury to the cervix, blood clots, future pre-term births, placenta previa, mental health problems (including increased tendency toward suicide ideation), and death. These risks to a woman’s health increase as pregnancy advances.

Since abortion-on-demand was legalized in in 1973, 400 women have lost their lives due to legal abortions.[ii] These are women like Tonya Reeves, the 24 year old African Americans woman who died of complications following an abortion at a Chicago Planned Parenthood last year; and Laura Hope Smith, the 22 year old woman who died following an abortion in Massachusetts in 2007. These are real women with real families who mourn the loss of their lives due to abortion.

Women suffer long-term negative effects following abortion. Some of these are long-term negative effects on future pregnancies, including an increased risk of pre-term births and increased risk of placenta previa for women who previously had abortions.

Over 100 studies have shown a significant association between abortion and future pre-term births. One study found that women who induced a single abortion have a 36 percent increased risk of preterm births.[iii] Women who had more than one previous abortion increased their chances of pre-term birth in subsequent pregnancies to 93 percent.[iv]

Pre-term birth increases the potential for complications during pregnancy that can put the mother at risk. Furthermore, pre-term birth is the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States. It is evident that the long-term consequences from abortion put both the mother and her future children at risk.

Studies also find that women who have abortions have a 50 percent increased risk of placenta previa in subsequent pregnancies.[v] Placenta previa is the complication where the placenta covers the cervix during pregnancy. During labor, placenta previa causes a medical emergency that requires a caesarian section.

Another long-term negative effect on women following abortion involves a woman’s mental health.

Numerous medical studies have found that women who undergo abortions have a marked increase in substance abuse, suicide, and serious depression as compared to woman who gave birth to their children. One study found that 27 percent of women who had abortions experienced suicide ideation.[vi] This number increases to 50 percent among minors.

These facts about the short and long-term risks to women from abortion are little known, thanks to the propaganda of the left. Whether it is an immediate complication like uterine perforation, hemorrhage, infection, incomplete abortion or death; or it is a long-term compilation like pre-term birth, placenta previa or suicide ideation—the truth is that abortion hurts women.

Forty years after Roe v. Wade women are still being put in harm’s way—it is about time that we end this scourge of abortion for the babies and for their mothers.




[i] Guttmacher Institute, “Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States,” (August 2011), available at, (last visited Jan. 16, 2013).

[ii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Abortion Surveillance—United States, 2007”, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 60, no. 1 (February 25, 2011.)

[iii] Shah PS, Zao J, Knowledge Synthesis Group of Determinants of Preterm/LBW Births. Induced termination of pregnancy and low birth weight and preterm birth: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BJOG 2009;116:1425-42.

[iv] Id.

[v] Thorp, Hartmann & Shadigian, “Long-Term Physical and Psychological Health Consequences of Induced Abortion: Review of the Evidence,” 58 Obst. & Gyn. Survey 67 (2003).

[vi] David M. Fergusson, et al; “Abortion In Young Women And Subsequent Mental Health,” J. of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol 47:1 (2006).