July 10, 2015 — According to CDC numbers released Wednesday and published in Obstetrics & Gynecology's August issue, deaths associated with abortion care remain very rare, the Huffington Post reports.
CDC analyzed data from the national Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System. The system includes information found on death certificates and other sources, such as clinic reports, hospital data and certain media reports.
Researchers examined the data to validate causes of death. According to the Post, researchers classified deaths as abortion-related if they resulted from "a direct or indirect complication from the procedure," or if an individual's pre-existing condition was exacerbated by an abortion. The researchers did not exclude any deaths from being categorized as abortion-related based on the time between when an abortion was performed and when an individual died.
CDC spokesperson Brittany Behm said the agency performed the review because "[w]e know that legal abortion is one of the most frequently used medical interventions in the United States, with more than 1 million performed per year, so it's important to minimize the risk."
According to the data, the mortality rate for abortion care is very low, at approximately 0.7 deaths per 100,000 legal abortions. Specifically, the researchers found that of the roughly 16.1 million legal abortions performed in the U.S. from 1998 to 2010, there were only 108 abortion-related deaths. The study found that, among the rare instances of mortalities, the main causes were blood clots, complications with anesthesia, hemorrhage and infection.
Behm said the data affirms the safety of abortion care and should reassure women and physicians. She noted, "I think we are encouraged to see that deaths related to legal abortions continue to be rare, but there's always more that we can do from a public health perspective," such as increasing access to contraceptives to help reduce the U.S. unintended pregnancy rate (Pearson, Huffington Post, 7/8).