CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's unclear how many women are treated for abortion-related complications in West Virginia emergency rooms, but few, if any, are admitted to a hospital, according to the latest data available from the state Health Care Authority.
In 2010 and 2011, five women each year were admitted to West Virginia hospitals for complications stemming from abortion and ectopic and molar pregnancies, according to Jim Pitrolo, chairman of the HCA.
It is unclear if these complications were from legally induced abortion procedures or if they were miscarriages. None of the complications were specifically labeled to reflect a legally induced abortion.
Neither the HCA nor the state Board of Medicine keeps track of emergency room visits.
Abortion safety has been the subject of a review by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who has looked into the state's regulations concerning the procedure.
Dr. Byron Calhoun, an anti-abortion advocate and vice chairman of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at West Virginia University Physicians of Charleston, wrote in a letter to Morrisey that he sees women with complications related to abortions on a weekly basis.
"We commonly (I personally probably at least weekly) see patients at Women and Children's Hospital in our emergency room or our ultrasound center with complications from abortions at these centers in Charleston: so much for 'safe and legal,'" Calhoun wrote to Morrisey last summer. "These patients are told to come to our hospital because the abortion clinic providers do not have hospital privileges to care for their patients, so we must treat them as emergency 'drop-ins.'"
Margaret Chapman Pomponio, executive director of WV FREE, an abortion-rights organization, said she is heartened but not surprised that few women are admitted to the hospital for abortion-related complications.