October 1, 2018 (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) – In news that adds further evidence that home abortion is risky for women, a large Swedish study has suggested that the practice is the reason complications for medical abortion have doubled in six years.
The study, published in BMC Women's Health, concludes: “The rate of complications associated with medical abortions [at less than 12 weeks gestation] has increased from 4.2% in 2008 to 8.2% in 2015. The cause of this is unknown but it may be associated with a shift from hospital to home medical abortions.”
The Westminster Government last month announced it plans to follow the Scottish and Welsh governments in approving the medical abortion pill for home use – a decision SPUC is fighting in the courts.
What does the study say?
The study analysed all the women who underwent abortions at Skaraborg Hospital in Sweden between 2008 and 2015 – a total of 4945 abortions.
For most of these women, medical abortion at home was the recommended procedure. Home abortion has increasingly become the norm in Sweden; by 2015, 85.2% of all medical abortions before the 9th gestational week were carried out at home – an increase of over 10% from 2008-9, when the number was 74.6%.
In the same time frame, the complication rate (bleeding, infections, and most commonly, incomplete abortions) for medical abortions before 12 weeks has increased from 4.2% to 8.2%.
Why is this?
The researchers suggest several times that the increase in abortions at home may be to blame. “There was a significant increase in the share of complications related to medical abortions…One potential reason is that the proportion of induced abortions performed at home has risen. It is likely that women who have medical abortions at home will visit our outpatient clinic in a greater extent since they do not have the direct help and support from a midwife.”
SPUC is currently appealing a decision by a judge at the Edinburgh Court of Session to back the Scottish Government's home abortion policy.
Deputy Chief Executive John Deighan said: “This study appears to back what we have been saying all along – that home abortions are risky for women. Sweden is known to have very good data on abortion, and the conclusions of a large scale study like this, where home abortion has been the norm for more than a decade, are not to be taken lightly.
“We call on the Government to urgently review their decision to allow home abortion in light of this new evidence.
“We are still of the view that abortion at home is not lawful and the evidence shows the threat it poses to women's health,” he concluded. “This latest research suggests that women taking the abortion pill at home cannot be ruled out as a factor leading to a significant increase in complications in a country where it has been extensively tried.”
Published with permission from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.