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Insights in reproductive health research and practice from CompassCare's medical team.

Abortion Complications: Teens at Higher Risk

Why teenagers?

Approximately eighteen percent of all U.S. women obtaining abortions are teenagers.

Ages 18 – 19: 11%
Ages 15 – 17:  6%
Younger than 15: less than 1%1

Teens are more prone to complications arising from induced abortion because they “are more likely than older women to delay having an abortion until after 15 weeks of pregnancy, when the medical risks associated with abortion are significantly higher.”1 According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the risk of death increases by 38% for each additional week of gestation.2 In other words, if the mortality rate from abortion-related complications is 1 in 100,000 at 8 weeks, it will be 1.38 in 100,000 at 9 weeks.

Nevertheless, your doctor should talk with you about the risks of any abortion to your future reproductive health as a teen, as well as the positive impact a full term pregnancy can have. For more information on the side-effects of abortion click here.

Why the higher risk of side-effects?

  • Teens who are trying to hide their abortions are less likely to follow a post-abortion antibiotic regimen or return for a follow-up visit.
  • The fact that teenagers generally have numerous sexual partners, lower levels of protective antibodies, and higher levels of estrogen may also play a role3.
  • Adolescents are more likely to have Chlamydia and other related infections at the time of abortion3, which can result in PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease).
  • The risk for ectopic pregnancy-related deaths due to PID are higher among teenagers who have had abortions.

If you’re a teen facing unplanned pregnancy, schedule a free appointment to discuss your options today.


1 The Guttmacher Institute. (2011) Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States. Retrieved from: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html

2 L.A. Bartlett, C.J. Berg, H.B. Shulman, S.B. Zane, C.A. Green, S. Whitehead, H. K. Atrash. klik American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2004). Risk Factors for Legal Induced Abortion–Related Mortality in the United States,Volume 103, No. 4, APRIL 2004.  Retrieved from: http://stateleg.acog.org/from_home/publications/green_journal/2004/v103n4p729.pdf

3 T. W. Strahan. Association for Interdisciplinary Research in Values and Social Change. (2000). Differential Adverse Impact on Teenagers Who Undergo Induced Abortion. Retrieved from: http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/air/air_vol15no1_20001.html