Health Risk: Wisconsin Department of Health Services Data Reveals Sharp Increase in Risky Abortion Method

Charlotte Lozier Institute  

European and American Studies Show Chemical Abortions Inflict a Complication Rate Four Times That of Surgical Abortions


Washington, D.C.The most recent Wisconsin abortion data shows a significant increase in the number of women using potentially dangerous abortion drugs, which according to multiple peer-reviewed studies pose higher rates of complications.


Data collected by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and analyzed by Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) reveals that in 2019 the Badger State saw a 24.5% rise in chemical abortions from the previous year, totaling one third of all abortions in the state.


“Multiple studies demonstrate that complications are several times more frequent in chemical than surgical abortions,” noted Dr. Tara Sander Lee, CLI’s Director of Life Sciences who served more than 15 years as faculty at the Medical College of Wisconsin.  “One complication is an incomplete abortion, which requires surgical intervention.  This latest Wisconsin data shows a dramatic increase in incomplete abortions in 2019, which might be attributable to Planned Parenthood’s decision to perform chemical abortions a week later in pregnancy than previously offered.  Statistically, the failure rate of chemical abortions increases with gestational age.”


A recent national study, written in part by CLI scholars, examined cases of death and severe adverse events after chemical abortions nationwide, especially focusing on mifepristone, the first drug used in the two-part chemical abortion process.


The study analyzed complications which occurred between September 2000 and February 2019 in the U.S.:


  • More than 20 women died of complications from chemical abortions
  • More than 500 life-threatening complications were reported
  • Nearly 2,000 “severe” complications were reported


The study authors also estimated that complications are significantly underreported in the U.S., with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) relaxing reporting requirements even further in 2016.


CLI President Charles A. “Chuck” Donovan said:


“Abortion pills are presented as a quick and easy solution to an unexpected pregnancy.  Science shows otherwise.  As many as 1 in 5 women who use abortion pills experience medical complications, and the emotional toll is rarely discussed.


Follow the data.  As chemical abortion in Wisconsin increased in 2019, so did one of the most serious complications resulting from chemical abortion.  The trauma of an incomplete abortion followed by surgery isn’t providing women with a ‘choice.’  As a community, we should present these women and their children with better options, including both prenatal and postnatal support from local pregnancy centers and other life-affirming providers.”


In addition to the sharp increase in chemical abortions, Wisconsin saw total abortions increase for the third year in a row.  Nearly 7% of Wisconsin abortions were performed in the second or third trimester.  A recent CLI study revealed that 47 out of 50 European nations limit elective abortions prior to 15 weeks.


Click here to read CLI’s full analysis of Wisconsin’s 2019 abortion statistics.


Charlotte Lozier Institute was launched in 2011 as the education and research arm of Susan B. Anthony List.  CLI is a hub for research and public policy analysis on some of the most pressing issues facing the United States and nations around the world.  The Institute is named for a feminist physician known for her commitment to the sanctity of human life and equal career and educational opportunities for women. 




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