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October 10, 1980

Fatal Ectopic Pregnancy After Attempted Legally Induced Abortion

JAMA. 1980;244(15):1705-1708. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310150041029

From 1973 through 1978, the Center for Disease Control identified ten deaths caused by ruptured ectopic pregnancy after attempted legal abortions for those pregnancies. The women ranged in age from 18 to 31 years, seven were black, three were white, and five were nulliparous. The estimated gestational age was 16 menstrual weeks or earlier. In seven cases tissue obtained at abortion was sent for outside microscopic pathological examination; attempts to contact four of the patients when no products of conception were found were unsuccessful. An important factor in preventing fatal ectopic pregnancy for women who have legal abortions is the identification of products of conception at the time of the abortion procedure while the patient is still available for reexamination and recurettage.

(JAMA 244:1705-1708, 1980)