Abortions have very real physical and emotional risks. Mild side effects include abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. In as many as 1 percent of abortions and 2 percent of late abortions, physical complications may include heavy bleeding, infection, tearing of the cervix, scarring of the uterine lining, perforation of the uterus, embolism, convulsions, endotoxic shock, damage to internal organs and, in very rare cases, even death of the mother.
Scarring or other injury may threaten future pregnancies with heightened dangers. Miscarriages are more common in women who abort their first pregnancy and so are placenta previa, ectopic pregnancies and pelvic inflammatory disease. Studies have also shown that women who have an abortion increase their risk of cervical, ovarian and liver cancer—apparently due to the unnatural disruption of the hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy.
Furthermore, 27 of 34 commissioned studies have linked abortion to breast cancer. Since abortion causes a sudden drop in estrogen levels, it is thought that this makes breast cells more susceptible to cancer. A study conducted by the National Cancer Institute found that of pregnant women, those who induced an abortion were 50 percent more likely to develop breast cancer. In 2001, it was discovered that the incidence of breast cancer in the U.S. had increased 40 percent since abortion was legalized in 1973, while the incidence for all cancers had declined overall (Reuters, June 5, 2001). Breast cancer kills more women between the ages of 20 and 59 than any other cancer.
The emotional impact of an abortion that some women face is known as post-abortion stress. The symptoms include guilt, anger, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, abortion flashbacks and anniversary grief, sexual dysfunction, eating disorders and alcohol and drug abuse. In February 2000, the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse published a study linking abortion to subsequent drug or alcohol abuse. It was at least the 16th study to do so. In this case, the authors discovered that women who aborted their babies were five times more likely to engage in subsequent substance abuse than women who carried their babies to full term.
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