Court Records Indicate Nearly 1,000 Abortion Patients Likely Hospitalized Annually in Texas

By Cheryl Sullenger

Austin, TX – A decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals allowing the State of Texas to enforce a controversial abortion law passed last year reveals that abortion complications that require emergency hospitalization are higher than thought, and raise the concerns that the true number of serious abortion-related injuries and maternal deaths are being kept from the public.

“Information in this decision has forced us to crunch the numbers,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “Our calculations based on conservative estimates indicates that nearly 1,000 women might very well be hospitalized each year in Texas alone. That number is completely unacceptable.”

The appeals decision issued on March 27, 2014, reveals troubling information that was submitted in the form of sworn testimony during a challenge to the constitutionality of HB 2, a sweeping abortion law that requires abortionists to maintain hospital privileges within 30 miles of their abortion clinics and follow protocols set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for administering the abortion pill, mifepristone, also known as RU-486.

According to the ruling:

During these proceedings, Planned Parenthood conceded that at least 210 women in Texas annually must be hospitalized after seeking an abortion. Witnesses for both sides further testified that some of the women who are hospitalized after an abortion have complications that require an Ob/Gyn specialist’s treatment.

That number was based on information provided by Planned Parenthood’s expert witness, abortionist Paul Fine, who serves as Medical Director of the organization’s mammoth Houston abortion clinic where Operation Rescue has documented three medical emergencies in the past year.

38-Year Old Complication Rate

Fine referred to studies that show “only 2.5 percent of women who have a first-trimester surgical abortion undergo minor complications while fewer than 0.3 percent experience a complication that requires hospitalization.” Calculations related to abortion patient hospitalizations were made from abortion numbers provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) showing that 70,003 abortions were done on Texas residents in 2011.

However, expert witness Dr. John Thorp told the court that the 0.3% hospitalization estimate “is based on data that is thirty-eight years old.” He also indicated that abortion complications are notoriously underreported and that only one-third to one-half of all abortion patients return for follow-up visits where complications could be reported to clinic staff.

In addition, in many states, abortionists are simply not required to report abortion complications. The underreporting means that the percentage of women actually suffering surgical abortion complications is much higher.

The number suggested by Planned Parenthood of “at least 210 women” who were hospitalized due to abortion complications was not based on any actual reporting. Instead, it appears to have been calculated using 2011 state abortion numbers with Fine’s 0.3% hospitalization rate, and assumes that all of the 70,003 abortions done on Texas residents in 2011 were first trimester surgical procedures, an assumption that is completely inaccurate.

Medication Abortions

Numbers obtained from the DSHS indicate that in 2011, 26 percent of all abortions on Texas women were done using the abortion pill. The court documents reveal testimony indicating that a full six percent of women who obtain medication abortions using the abortion pill require surgical abortions due to failure of the abortion pill process.

Based on those numbers, there would actually have been approximately 1,089 cases where women required surgical intervention following medication abortions.

Hospital Referral Policy

How many of those were actually hospitalized? Additional testimony in the Appeals Court decision gives some indication that the numbers could be in the hundreds.

The ruling revealed that many Texas abortionists “have virtually no history of hospital admissions since the experts presented by the plaintiffs argued that it is the practice of many abortion physicians to instruct their patients to seek care from an emergency room if complications arise.”

Planned Parenthood’s abortionist Fine even testified that “the appropriate course of action” in the event of abortion-related complications “would be to refer the woman to a nearby emergency room.”

In view of this policy, if a conservative estimate of just 50% of Texas women suffering from medication abortion complications requiring surgical intervention went to the hospital for treatment instead of the abortion clinic, it would represent 544 women.

Riskier Second Trimester D & E

Also, second trimester Dilation and Evacuation abortions that have higher risk factors were done on 4,233 Texas women. While hospitalization figures for these women were not discussed in the court documents, if we conservatively estimate that the percentage of women hospitalized due to complications from these riskier abortions is six percent, the number of women hospitalized would be at least 254.

In total, an estimate of the number of Texas women hospitalized due to abortion complications would be closer to 1,000, even using the abortion industry’s “low-ball” figure of 0.3% complication rate for first trimester surgical abortions and very conservative second trimester estimates.

Disingenuous Attribution of Complications

To make matters worse, complications experienced by women who report directly to emergency rooms are not attributable as a complication for any particular abortion provider. Thus, the abortionist appears to the public as having a better safety record than he actually does.

Maternal Deaths Concealed

While the vital statistics kept by the DSHS indicated no women died in Texas in 2011 from abortion-related complications, there is reason to believe that abortion clinics are simply not reporting deaths of women who are pronounced dead at local hospitals.

“Suppose a woman suffered a fatal abortion complication at a Texas abortion clinic. If the clinic called for emergency medical assistance and the patient was transported to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead, the abortion clinic would not report that death as one that occurred at the abortion clinic,” said Newman. “That’s exactly how abortion deaths get covered up and swept under the rug.”

Statistics on abortion-related maternal deaths remain unreliable due to this practice, which is common throughout the U.S., and due to the fact that often, the deaths are classified as something other than abortion related.

In fact, most incidents of abortion death are only made public when pro-life activists happen to be on site at abortion clinics when ambulances are called.

Such was the case with 2005 death of Christin Gilbert in Wichita, Kansas; the 2013 death of Jennifer Morbelli in Germantown, Maryland; and the death of Lakisha Wilson in Cleveland, Ohio, just last month.

Other known deaths from abortions have only been discovered when pro-life activists research documents such as clinic inspection reports, as in the 2013 case of Maria Santiago, who died at a Baltimore “clinic” owned by the notorious Steven Chase Brigham, which was located in a residential condominium.

“It is likely that women are dying from abortions obtained at Texas abortion clinics, but that those incidents will never be made public because the deaths were attributed to the hospital or some other cause of death – such as cardiac arrest, for instance,” said Newman. “It’s true that people die when their hearts stop, but what isn’t mentioned in many cases involving abortion is the part abortion played in causing the hearts to stop.”

Tens of Thousands

If we apply the information about abortion complications found in the Texas court records to the rest of the country, it is likely that tens of thousands of women are landing in hospital emergency rooms yearly unbeknownst to the public.

Overall in the U.S., there is a dangerous lack of current, accurate data on abortion numbers, complications, hospitalizations and deaths that lead to rough “guesstimates” based on dubious numbers that are decades old. This contributes to an inaccurate picture of abortion safety in America, as the recent Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision shows.

Operation Rescue calls for states to continue to pass local hospital privilege requirements to protect women from shoddy abortion practices. In addition, states need to pass laws that require detailed reporting regarding abortion complications that will ensure such complications are not misattributed to hospitals where botched abortion patients are ultimately treated.

“The court found that requiring hospital privileges for abortionists within 30 miles of their abortion businesses means that women will actually be safer because hospitals require standards that weed out the most dangerous and incompetent abortionists,” said Newman. “The truth is that thousands of women in this country every year suffer needlessly from abortion complications because states do not require abortionists to meet standards required to ensure patient safety. The information in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling is a wake-up call to every state. Requiring local hospital privileges is a way to protect women and save lives until such time as the practice of abortion can be completely abolished. This requirement should be passed in every state.”

View the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Decision No. 13-51008

  • Joanne

    Perhaps with accurate data on abortion complications, we could finally debunk the myth that abortion is safer than childbirth.

  • di from Oregon

    Yes, well, evil likes to take place in the dark so that people will not the consequences of destructive behaviors and be warned. These poor women are victims all around, either by lack of teaching concerning their value that should require life-long commitment to have sex, or just victim’s of sexual predators who take advantage of women, who have no respect for them whatsoever. It is all too sad, this Godless culture of ours and must be redeemed by our Redeemer.

  • Singing to the Choir:

    It is likely that the vast majority of those reading this story are convicted that a ‘pro-life’ stance on the issue of abortion is the only rational position, and the only Godly position. That every life that begins in the Uterus is a life “intended” by our Creator.

    Activism is both appropriate and necessary in coming against the practice of killing about 3,000 unborn children “daily” in our nation, and activism is certainly responsible for the slowly turning tide of “opinion” on the part of Americans from “pro-murder by choice of the mother” to “pro-life…by choice of the mother”. The one influence that can and should be greater than activism to change this tide is prayer.

    The challenge in the minds and hearts of those committed to preserving the right of a mother to end the life of her unborn child is “predisposition”. Predisposition is what makes us all hear what we want to hear, and refuse to hear what we do not want to hear. Predisposition is what makes a person who cannot justify their convictions with reason and logic choose to attack the person who can make a rational and logical case for the opposite belief. It is what we “want to be true” that guides much of the conviction in our midst. God has told us in many ways that we will all be held accountable for our actions, yet many rebel against accountability to any power greater than “self” and our culture reinforces this position. That lost soul believes that “sincerity trumps truth” and any god worth his/her salt would never condemn them for doing what they “feel” is right and justified.

    For those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior and LORD, accountability to God is what brings us obedience and lack of that accountability is immediately apparent by a powerful “conviction” from inside that tells us when we are off track and acting out or “thinking out” of disobedience to our LORD. This is the evidence of Gods indwelling in our hearts as Christ promised us if we come to Him for our Salvation. Those who have “become” children of God” through the process God established for us to do so are glad to experience conviction and thankful for any guidance given us by the only 100% loving Father in Creation.

    Truer words were not spoken…
    “Once you have seen and known the truth, you cannot forget it’
    So…in addition to our activism, let us put equal and even greater effort into constant prayer for those unfortunates who serve a “predisposition” to believe that they themselves determine what is right and wrong, and if there is a God He is obliged to accept their judgments because they “feel” that is only “Just” and “Fair”.

    I pray that each heart will be shown a flash of truth that comes and goes, only to leave an inner “feeling” that something is not right…that something needs fixing…that something is troubling them and won’t go away. I pray that this flash of truth will increase infrequency over time, and the God will lead to each person who is experiencing this new conviction a “CHILD” of God who will share with them the reason for our hope, our joy, and our peace.

    There is a love that overcomes parents on the day of their child’s birth.
    It is sacrificial. “I would die to protect this child”
    It is unconditional: “That Child has not earned my love and I will not stop loving my child
    no matter what”
    Can it be that we are so “good” that we create this beautiful new love within ourselves as a result of our parenthood? Or is it possible that this is something so powerful, so instantaneous, so overwhelming that it must come from our Creator? And if it does come from Him…what is His purpose for doing so?

    As a father, I cannot imagine a pain greater than watching my young adult child self-destructing in a life of drug-overdoses, prostitution, and crime. I will stand with my arms outreached and beg her/him to take my hand and let me save her/him from this horror (and in doing so remove the incredible pain in my heart).

    Why do I feel this pain? Because of my Love.
    Where does the love come from? From my Father in heaven who wants me to experience a small dose of the pain He experiences when one of his children continue to refuse to take His hand…continue to embrace an eternity of pain and suffering without His love or presence…continue to rebel against His loving direction to save them from themselves.

    Can we not also feel HIS pain? Can we not pray in earnest each day for the person He created who has been lied to and corrupted to believe that denying Him and murdering their child is GOOD…and RIGHT…and DEFENDABLE?

    I pray you will all feel HIS pain, and pray daily for the Holy Spirit to bring truth and light into the hearts of those who have unknowingly embraced darkness and in some cases eternal damnation.

    God knew Abraham would choose obedience before He asked him if he would sacrifice his only son to prove his lover for God. So why did He make it a point to put Abraham through the exercise…and document it so all fathers and mothers could try to comprehend why any parent would do such a thing that would be unbearably painful “because” of their love….

    Who in all CREATION would be willing to allow HIS only son to be tortured and killed in order to demonstrate His incomparable love for us, and His commitment to allow us a path by which we can find Him for eternity in a loving relationship greater than we can imagine….?

    Let us pray……

    That the blind will be able to see…and the deaf will learn to hear….

    Let us pray….every day…

    Until He takes us home…


  • Robert

    The chart says 4233 2nd trimester abortions at a rate of 0.6% complications is not 254 complications but 25 annually. Someone must have added a digit.

  • Pat

    In response to Robert, it is more likely that the 0.6% figure is wrong. Second trimester abortions are notoriously more dangerous than first trimester abortions. My suspicion is that the figure should be 6%. Even if you are correct, the fact that the other figures are deliberately under-reported means that it is highly likely the complication rate is much higher than claimed in this article, much higher than 1000 annually. I remember an account of a doctor who was speaking to a group of ob-gyn doctors at a meeting (of some size) and asked how many had had a patient with abortion complications, and nearly everyone raised his hand. I think only about 3% said they hadn’t. I don’t remember the exact figures. There are so many ways abortion deaths are hidden, by misreporting actual cause of death, and many other ways. We just know that the back alley abortionists are operating on the “front alley” and that legalization only misleads women into thinking abortion is safe. And no one seems to be counting the death rate among women (before they reach age 40) from abortion-induced breast cancer. These figures should be included in the statistics, but they’re not. That figure alone is also in the tens of thousands for the United States. And complications in childbirth due to prior abortion are included in childbirth statistics instead of abortion statistics. And people are also forgetting the subsequent children of aborted women, who develop serious birth defects due to extreme prematurity. The prematurity rate has increased considerably. The United States is falling behind on infant mortality. The cost of treating children born with significant birth defects is also being ignored.

  • nomogideon

    Wow, sounds like if we really cared about preventive health care for women, we would stop doing abortions.

  • Duude

    The truth is a higher percentage of live births go without complications and could have been done by a midwife at home than abortions done at a clinic incapable of dealing with complications. So, if you think having your child at home is fraught with danger, having an abortion at a clinic is insane.

  • Martha Shuping

    Robert, in the body of this article, and in the table, the percentage estimated for the riskier 2nd trimester abortions is 6% (six percent). Six percent of 4,233 is 254, which is what they are showing. I don’t know where you get 0.6%, but that is not what this article is saying. It is saying six percent for RU 486 abortions and six percent for second trimester abortions… Ah, on closer look the chart I am looking at says “corrected chart,” so perhaps there was an error in the original chart that has now been corrected.