In the movie "Unplanned", it is depicted that after a medical abortion, the products of conception are meticulously re-assembled after the procedure to ensure that none have been left behind in the patient.

However, in the Wikipedia page on products of conception, no mention is made of this, but rather it is stated that retained products of conception (RPOC) are detected by sonography, not by post-operative forensics. Furthermore, the Wikipedia article implies that RPOCs are not a serious cause for concern and that "Remaining products of conception will be expelled during subsequent vaginal bleeding". This differs significantly from the events of "Unplanned" which imply that any RPOC are a serious cause for concern, require intervention and that post-operative re-assembly of the embryo or fetus is critical.

Which is true, Unplanned or the Wikipedia? I think the central question here is whether re-assembly is done routinely or not.

  • "Unplanned" is a propaganda film with no basis in reality. I'll leave this question open for a good response for now, but it's destined for closure if no such answer appears. Apr 13, 2019 at 1:49
  • @CareyGregory I am not interested in unsubstantiated opinions. I am interested in FACTS. The medical facts wanted are clearly specified in the question. Apr 13, 2019 at 2:42
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    Seems a bit harsh. You're comparing a movie made with a political agenda to a seemingly unbiased factual article. If you really want to compare facts, this isn't the way to do it. Apr 13, 2019 at 4:10
  • @CareyGregory The movie is based on a book written by somebody who worked in an abortion clinic for eight years. So, maybe she's lying, maybe not. I just want to know who is telling the truth. DoctorWhom's statement above would tend to corroborate the movie's version of reality over the Wikipedia. Apr 13, 2019 at 8:43
  • Your underlying question is legitimate, but I hope you understand my concern. The movie is politically charged, and has been rightly described by multiple sources as highly dramatized, medically inaccurate, and blatant propaganda. The question could have been asked without bringing the movie into it. Apr 13, 2019 at 15:19

1 Answer 1


I can't answer the question specific to abortions, as I do not perform abortions (for this reason).

But certainly in vaginal deliveries and C sections, the placenta is always checked carefully by the physician to ensure that no part of the placenta was retained in the uterus. The reason is that retained fetal tissue is a risk for post-partum hemorrhage and infection.

The degree of risk likely depends on what specific body part is retained in the uterus - for example, retained implanted placenta presents a higher risk of hemorrhage than a leg or lung, due to the maternal-fetal blood vessel network. Also, retained placenta may be the first sign that there was accreta. But beyond just which body part, the age of the fetus, the amount of the fetus retained in the uterus, and the mechanism of abortion all impact whether retention can be managed with expectant management or requires D&C etc.

Even the Wikipedia article you cited on retained fetal tissue mentions these risks: "...or causes anemia, or if there is evidence of endometritis."

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