Abortion safety: At home and abroad

Issues Law Med. 2019 Spring;34(1):43-75.


In the U.S., legal abortion is considered extremely safe, and abortion-related mortality is reported to be far lower than mortality associated with term childbirth. Yet, the voluntary nature of abortion complication reporting and ideological selection biases obscure the poor quality of the data used to support these assumptions. Worldwide, the World Health Organization reports that illegal abortion is extremely unsafe, killing and injuring vast numbers of women yearly. They advocate for the liberalization of abortion laws so that women can access safer abortions. Yet, their calculations are based largely on subjective opinions from a limited number of health care providers, with little objective verification from external sources. The limitations in the data should prompt calls for improved studies and more objective estimates of complications and deaths resulting from abortion, both legal and illegal.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Criminal*
  • Abortion, Induced*
  • Abortion, Legal*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy