More Than Half of Colorado Abortions Use Drugs Linked to Higher Rates of Complications

Charlotte Lozier Institute  

National Medicaid Data Shows 500% Increase in Rate of Abortion Pill-Related Emergency Room Utilization


Washington, D.C.The most recent data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows that abortion pills are now used in over 60 percent of Colorado abortions.


The use of abortion pills (sometimes referred to as “chemical abortion” or “self-managed abortion”) increased nearly 15 percent in Colorado from 2020 to 2021.  Multiple peer-reviewed studies have linked abortion pills to higher rates of complications for women than surgical abortions.



Tessa Longbons, Charlotte Lozier Institute’s (CLI) senior research associate and co-author of a new analysis on Colorado abortion data, explained:


“Separate peer-reviewed studies from California, Finland, and Sweden demonstrate that complications are several times more frequent in chemical than surgical abortions.  Following the science, a 15 percent year-over-year increase in the use of abortion pills is likely to lead to an increase in emergency room visits and abortion related complications, whether or not those complications are properly reported to the state health department.”


A groundbreaking national study published in November 2021 by CLI scholars found that the rate of abortion pill-related emergency room visits increased over 500 percent from 2002 through 2015 (the most recent data available).


A follow-up study this year found that if a woman’s abortion pill-related complications are miscoded by emergency room personnel as a natural miscarriage, she is:


  • Twice as likely to be admitted for surgery for retained products of conception; and
  • At significantly greater risk of multiple hospital admissions for treatment of the same complication.


Major media outlets, including New York magazine and Daily Kos, have published pro-abortion articles encouraging women to “avoid mentioning abortion, and the pills, entirely” should they go to the emergency room due to complications.  This advice is hazardous to women.


Published in the peer-reviewed journal Health Services Research and Managerial Epidemiology, the CLI studies are the first to utilize Medicaid claims data to conduct a 17-year longitudinal analysis of 423,000 confirmed abortions and 121,283 confirmed subsequent visits to an emergency room in the 17 states which use state taxpayer funds to pay for abortion.


Dr. James Studnicki, CLI vice president of data analytics and lead author of the emergency room studies, said:


“This real-world data, based on actual Medicaid claims rather than a sampled survey population, should be a wake-up call to elected leaders, public health officials, and the medical community in Colorado.  The safety of the abortion pill is greatly exaggerated, a deception made possible by the FDA’s decision to stop collecting data on most abortion pill complications back in 2016.  Hemorrhage, emergency surgery, near-death experience?  The FDA doesn’t collect that data, which leaves public health officials in the dark.


“The reality is that thousands of women are experiencing abortion pill-related complications that cause them to visit the emergency room.  Abortion advocates and pro-abortion politicians who attempt to explain away or simply ignore these statistics are choosing to put women at greater risk.  This represents a public health threat.”


The state of Colorado places no gestational limits on how late abortions can be performed, and Colorado abortion centers have reported performing abortions at 38 and 39 weeks of pregnancy.  47 out of 50 European nations limit elective abortion prior to 15 weeks.


Click here for CLI’s full analysis of Colorado’s 2021 abortion statistics.



Charlotte Lozier Institute was launched in 2011 as the education and research arm of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. 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.




Sign up to receive email updates from the Charlotte Lozier Institute.