Women have illegally had abortions for centuries in the US, but as a result of the Roe v. Wade case in 1973, the Supreme Court legalized safe medical abortions. Pregnancies can be terminated surgically or through administered pills most often during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy, but 88% of women have abortions in the first 13 weeks. Abortion rates declined 20% from 2011 to 2017, which can largely be contributed to educating women about contraceptives, as well as the increased accessibility and use of birth control.
Abortion safety and risks of complications can be a major concern for women who are considering their options or before their abortion is performed. Thankfully, 97% of women have no complications, 2.5% of women have minor complications, and .5% of women have serious complications in the US. Today, abortions have over a 95% success rate.
Unsafe and illegal abortions contribute to a large number of maternal deaths every year, as unsafe abortions are more commonly practiced in places where abortion is illegal. Around 68,000 women die every year as a result of unsafe abortions. The risk of complications is high as unsafe abortions can result in perforations of the uterus, retained placentas, severe bleeding, cervical wounds, rampant infections, poisoning, shock, and gangrene. In Brazil, where abortion is illegal, about 250,000 women are hospitalized due to complications from an unsafe abortion.
Abortions are not always easily accesible in places where it is legal, though. 87% of US counties have no identifiable abortion provider. Other barriers for women receiving abortions include inadequately funded abortions and a shortage of trained abortion providers, along with financial and travel-related issues.