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Abortion Safer for Women Than Childbirth, Study Claims
Date:1/24/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Jan. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, opponents have questioned the safety of medical procedures used to terminate pregnancy. Now, a new study contends that having a legal abortion is safer than carrying a baby to term.

The risk of death associated with a full-term pregnancy and delivery is 8.8 deaths per 100,000, while the risk of death linked to legal abortion is 0.6 deaths per 100,000 women, according to the study. That means a woman carrying a baby to term is 14 times more likely to die than a woman who chooses to have a legal abortion, the study finds.

"Regardless of one's sentiments about abortion, legal abortion is very safe, and dramatically safer than continuing the pregnancy," said the study's lead author, Dr. David Grimes, a clinical professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill.

Sunday was the 39th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the landmark case that struck down state laws prohibiting abortion.

Grimes and his colleagues had several reasons for undertaking the study, published in the February issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology. One is that medical abortion, in which a woman can take a pill early in pregnancy, instead of surgical abortion, "has changed the landscape of abortion, and the mortality information needed to be updated."

Another reason is that in many states, women are given information before getting an abortion. "There's been a proliferation of these women's-right-to-know pamphlets, and some of them are misleading, if not downright incorrect or patently wrong," Grimes said.

A pamphlet given out in Texas lists more complications for abortion than it does for pregnancy, he explained. "Someone without a medical background might infer that abortion is more dangerous than continuing a pregnancy,
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