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Debunking Abortion Myths

By Maya Cherins

It’s 2020 and we are still in the fight for reproductive justice. Why is that? The stigma and myths about sexual health, birth control, and specifically, abortion. How do we prove them wrong? How do we educate ourselves and others on accurate, scientifically proven information on abortion? Let’s debunk some abortion myths. 


“Abortion is dangerous.” 

Abortion, a reproductive right, is extremely safe. Surgical abortion procedures that take place in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy have a 97% success rate with no complications. 2.5% have minor complications that can be handled immediately at the clinic, and less than 0.5% have complications that could result in hospitalization. Complication rates are somewhat higher for abortion procedures after 13 weeks. In medication abortions, complications arise in less than 0.4% of patients. 

As well as the procedure and medication being completely safe, it’s important to consider the long term damage an unwanted pregnancy could result in. Recent studies show that there is a strong connection between unwanted pregnancy and interpersonal violence, putting the pregnant person and the fetus at serious risk. 

Further research shows unwanted pregnancies can result in serious cognitive and psychological difficulties in the child. These children are born into families unfit to parent and can end up having dangerous long term consequences like difficulty in cognitive, emotional and social processes, increased likelihood of engaging in criminal behavior, dependency on public assistance, and having an unstable marriage. 


“People who get abortions are irresponsible.”

All kinds of people can experience an unwanted pregnancy, whether it be from a single hook-up or a long-lasting marriage. And those who are sexually active don’t always have easy access to contraception: birth control, Plan B, condoms, and IUDs tend to be over-priced and inaccessible. Contraception can cost up to $800 a year, a major expense that not everyone can afford. 

Aside from contraception being somewhat inaccessible, the belief that those who receive abortions are promiscuous and irresponsible is inherently sexist. This tacit “slut-shaming” perpetuates the misogynistic belief that those with vaginas should be judged in alignment with their sexual experiences. This further condemns abortion and preserves a negative stigma surrounding reproductive healthcare. 

To put it simply, those who receive abortions are just like you and me. 


“Abortion is traumatic.”

Any significant hormonal transformation in the human body can cause distress, but the stress of carrying a pregnancy to full term is far more traumatic than abortion itself. Those who are denied abortion access are more likely to experience high levels of anxiety, lower-life satisfaction, and lower self-esteem than those who receive an abortion.  

There is no distinct research saying that abortion is traumatic. Those who undergo abortions may feel emotional and overwhelmed following the procedure or medication, yet in the long-run, they are more relieved and content with the decision to abort. 


“Having an abortion will ruin your ability to get pregnant again.”

Fabricated claims linked abortion to future miscarriage or infertility. These beliefs are rooted in the historical criminalization of reproductive healthcare. Trained physicians and professionals now have the tools, resources, and education to provide safe and comprehensive abortion care, leaving no risk for future fertility. 


“Abortion is anti-parenthood.”

By getting an abortion, that does NOT make you anti-family or anti-parenthood. 59% of abortions are obtained by people who are already parents. 49% of abortion patients live below the poverty level, and understand that they may not be financially competent to provide for a child.

Abortion clinics across the world provide comprehensive education on what it entails to be a parent and what their many options are. Those who receive an abortion understand what it entails to have a child and to be a parent. They understand they may not be able to provide the best living situation at the time. Having reproductive freedom does not make you anti-parenthood. 


“There’s no point in abortion when you can use adoption.”

Putting abortion and adoption on the same playing field when discussing reproductive health is unjust. By choosing to put the child up for adoption, that means you are undergoing nine months of overwhelming hormonal changes, as well as the emotional changes following birth. Pregnancy is emotionally, physically, and socially taxing. Pregnant people may also have severe health risks, putting themselves and the fetus in danger by carrying through with a pregnancy. Prenatal care is also expensive, and inaccessible for many. Adoption is NOT a viable option for everyone and needs to be treated as such. 


“Abortion kills an unborn baby.” 

In the first trimester, week 1 to week 12, there is merely an embryo that develops into a fetus at the end of the second month of gestation. During this stage in the pregnancy, the fetus is not an autonomous human being. The fetus is not viable, meaning it could not survive outside of the womb. Using language like “murder” or “killing” when referring to abortion wrongfully equates an embryo to a living person, and is scientifically incorrect. 


“Pro-choice means pro-abortion.”

Pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion at all. Being “pro-choice” means standing for the right to choose what happens to your body; the right to have options, the right to reproductive justice. 

 

Understand your right to choose, and understand these myths and their truths. Know your options. If you or someone you know needs abortion care or reproductive healthcare, refer to the following resources.

 

 

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