Debunking Abortion Myths, in Honor of Roe
This post was originally written on January 21, 2011 to commemorate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision to legalize abortion in the United States. To honor Roe, and to honor the groups, practitioners, nurses, staff, and volunteers who have dedicated their lives to providing reproductive health care, we’re debunking some common abortion myths.
- Emergency Contraception (EC) is an abortifacient. Despite what Nick Cannon said recently, emergency contraception does not cause an abortion. EC prevents pregnancy, while the abortion pill (mifepristone) terminates an existing pregnancy. Check out NARAL’s great fact sheet for more info.
- Women use abortion as a form of birth control – Actually, 54 percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant. Birth control methods fail, and inconsistent contraceptive use, as well as life changes, contribute to unplanned pregnancy. There is no research that states that women depend on or use abortion as a method of birth control.
- Abortion causes post-traumatic stress and other mental health disorders. A 2008 report by the APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion concluded, “the best scientific evidence indicates that the relative risk of mental health problems among adult women who have an unplanned pregnancy is no greater if they have an elective first-trimester abortion than if they deliver the pregnancy.” This is also made clear through the fact that “postabortion traumatic stress syndrome” is not recognized by either the American Psychological Association (APA) or the American Psychiatric Association.
- Women who have abortions will never be mothers. There’s a big misconception out there about who has abortions. Many believe there are two types of women in this world—those who have abortions and those who have children. The fact is 61% of women who have abortions already have one or more children.
- Abortion causes breast cancer. In 1997, the New England Journal of Medicine published the largest-scale study ever on this subject–with 1.5 million participants–which concluded that there is no independent link between abortion and breast cancer.
- Making abortion illegal will stop women from having them. Abortion was prevalent in the United States long before the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. Because it was an illegal procedure, women who needed abortions had no choice but to obtain them from illegal practitioners. The “back-alley” abortion was dangerous and is listed as the official cause of death for almost 2,700 women in 1930.
- Pro-choice means pro-abortion. People who are pro-choice believe in the right for a woman to choose what happens to her body—whether that be an abortion, adoption, or carrying the pregnancy full-term. Being pro-choice means a lot of things and women and men who are pro-choice believe in choice for many reasons.
- All Planned Parenthood does is abortions. As long as there is a need for abortion services, Planned Parenthood will continue to provide those services for women. We work diligently to decrease the need for abortions by providing access to family planning services, comprehensive sexuality education, programs that promote communication and good decision making skills, and strong advocacy on policy decisions that protects all of the above.
- Women who have abortions can’t get pregnant, or will have a harder time conceiving. Abortions performed in the first trimester pose virtually no long-term risk of such problems as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, congenital malformation, or preterm or low-birth-weight delivery. Most women have abortions in their first trimester.
- Women having abortions are young, irresponsible women who can’t be bothered to take birth control. Women of all ages have abortions for many reasons including financial, ability to provide care, the health of the fetus, the health of the pregnant woman, the lack of a co-parent, and many other legitimate reasons. Women of all reproductive ages have abortions – it has nothing to do with age or responsibility.