To estimate the risk of death, the authors combined information from several national datasets gathered between 1998 and 2005. One, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, listed the number of pregnancy-related deaths in women delivering live babies. Another CDC dataset gave the number of legal abortions performed in the United States. Information on deaths from legal abortion came from an estimate provided by the Guttmacher Institute, which conducted an annual survey of U.S. hospitals, clinics and physicians' offices that provide abortions. The Guttmacher Institute also provided information from abortion patient surveys, and the researchers searched published studies for additional estimates of mortality.
From known live births, they found there were 2,856 deaths in women between 1998 and 2005. That translates to a risk of death of 8.8 per 100,000 pregnancies, according to the study.
For legal abortion, 64 deaths were reported in the same time frame. That translates to a risk of 0.6 deaths per 100,000 pregnancies, the study authors said.
In addition, the authors found that complications -- such as postpartum hemorrhage, infections and high blood pressure disorders -- were more common in women choosing to continue their pregnancies. This is, in part, because a woman with a full-term pregnancy has that much more time for pregnancy-related problems to develop, the authors said.
Dr. Donna Harrison, director of research and public policy at the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, disagreed with the authors' conclusions. This study's findings are "speculation," she said.
"Abortion mortality is not systematically collected. What Dr. Grimes' paper most clearly illustrates is the immediate need for reporting requirements for abortion deaths in all 50 states," Harrison said.
"Abortion carries significant risks to the mother in addition to death, and women need to have g
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