Abortion has a long history dating back to the 12th century. Throughout history, methods of abortion have become safer and have transformed tremendously. In the early ages, practices such as exercise and miscarriage-inducing drugs were widely used. Early folk remedies varied in effectiveness and had many risks of after effects. Some of these herbs used in the remedies included rue, Italian catnip, savory, sage, soapwort, and pennyroyal and were very poisonous. In German folk medicine, “abortifacient” teas included thyme, parsley, and lavender and sometimes even crushed ants, camel saliva, and deer tail hairs. Other methods include using sharpened tools and physical trauma. The 19th century showed advances in the fields of surgery and sanitation. There were safer methods of abortion but the cost was high and most women seeking them could not pay for them. These women turned to extremely dangerous techniques such as drinking harmful chemicals or using sharp sticks, knives, or hangers to penetrate the uterus and end the pregnancy. In modern times, more than 40% of women have had an abortion. Over 95% of these women have or will endure some sort of physical, emotional, and/or mental injury. Physical effects can take days, weeks, and even years to develop after an abortion is finalized. One-fifth of immediate complications are life-threatening. These effects depend greatly on the malignity or benignity of the procedure. While middle-aged women have a significant chance of physical effects, adolescents have a much higher risk. These side effects may include death, breast cancer, uterine perforation, cervical lacerations, ectopic pregnancy, septic abortion issues, autoimmune diseases, and infections.
In a 1997 governmental study in Finland, women who have had abortions are four times more likely to die in the year following the procedure. These women are 60% more likely to die of natural cause, seven times more likely to commit suicide, four times more likely to die in accidents, and fourteen more times likely to die from homicide. (“Physical Consequences”, 2) During a study of 173,000 low incomes Californian women’s death records linked to MediCal payments for births and abortions, researchers discovered that women with abortions were twice as likely to die in the following two years. David Reardon said “During the first four years, higher rates of death from suicide and heightened risk taking behavior were the most pronounced area of difference. In later years, deaths due to natural causes rose.” Another study of pregnancy-associated deaths has found that the mortality rate for abortions is three times higher than pregnancies carried to term. This study resulted in non-pregnant women having fifty-seven deaths per 100,000 compared to twenty-nine for women who carried term, fifty-two for women who miscarried, and eighty-four for women who had an abortion. According to Gissler M. Burg, “The annual death rate of women who had abortions in the previous year was also 46% higher than that of non-pregnant women.” (2) Around 60% of post-abortion women reported that they thought about committing suicide. Out of these women, 28% actually attempted suicide and 14% have tried more than once. In one reported case, a twenty-three year-old women attempted suicide involving a drunken driving incident. She had two abortions, one at age seventeen and another at eighteen. She was too afraid to tell her parents and suffered six years of guilt. The only person she planned to tell was her uncle who suddenly died of a heart attack. She planned her own death to end her pain and reunite with her children and uncle.
Since 1950, the relationship between abortion and breast and cervical cancer has been researched. According to the United States National Career Institute, “Women who have had an induced abortion have a 50% risk of getting breast cancer by age forty-five.” (Barnes, 10) Breast cancer is directly related...
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