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Abortion Myths: Fact vs. Fiction

Abortion is a very safe procedure. It’s about twice as safe as having your tonsils removed, and is 10 times safer than giving birth if it is performed before the 18th week of pregnancy.

You’re pregnant, and you don’t want to be. You’re thinking about having an abortion, but you’re confused. When you googled abortion, a lot of scary information came up.

Before you can make a decision about what’s best for you, it’s a good idea to get the real facts about abortion. Here are some common questions and the factual answers.

If I have an abortion will I be able to get pregnant again?

Safe, uncomplicated abortion should not affect a woman’s ability to have children in the future.

It does not

  • cause birth defects
  • cause premature birth or low infant-birth weight
  • make ectopic (not in the uterus) pregnancy more likely
  • make miscarriage more likely
  • make the risk of infant death more likely

Abortion is a very safe procedure. It’s about twice as safe as having your tonsils removed, and is 10 times safer than giving birth if it is performed before the 18th week of pregnancy. Most abortions — 90 percent — are performed in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

If I have an abortion will I get “post-abortion stress syndrome”?

Despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, anti-choice organizations continue to spread the false idea that it is common for abortion to have severe, emotionally negative effects. They want people to believe that most women who choose abortion suffer severe and long-lasting emotional trauma. This is not true. In fact, studies show that most women, in the long-term, experience feelings of relief after they have an abortion.

Anti-abortion groups have invented this so-called “post-abortion syndrome” to further their efforts to make abortion illegal. But neither the American Psychological Association nor the American Psychiatric Association recognizes the existence of so-called “post abortion syndrome.” These medical professionals found the anti-choice research flawed. For example, the authors of many “post abortion syndrome” studies only interviewed women who claimed to have emotional problems after an abortion procedure.

About 20 percent of women who have abortions experience symptoms of depression that pass fairly quickly. This is also true for 70 percent of women immediately after childbirth. These passing depressions — after abortion or childbirth — are most frequently caused by the drastic shifts in hormones that occur after either experience. Up to 10 percent of women who have abortions experience lingering symptoms of depression. This is also true of 10 percent of women after childbirth.

But in all, most scientific studies have found that long-term emotional reactions to having an abortion are relatively positive. In general, women at high risk for ongoing psychological problems after abortion — or childbirth — are women who have psychological problems before their pregnancies. And women who have to terminate a wanted pregnancy for medical reasons are more likely than other women to be emotionally disturbed afterward.

Does abortion cause breast cancer?

Abortion does not cause or increase the risk of breast cancer. The myth that breast cancer and abortion are linked is primarily promoted by groups and individuals who oppose abortion regardless of its safety. It is an idea used to frighten women away from having an abortion.

In 2003, the federal government put together a team of researchers to review the many studies that have been conducted on abortion and breast cancer. They concluded that there were flaws in the studies that linked abortion and breast cancer. The best studies, including one of 1.5 million women in Denmark, have found no link between cancer and abortion — none.

What are Crisis Pregnancy Centers?

Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) advertise themselves as unbiased health centers with services such as free pregnancy tests, HIV tests, and “abortion alternatives.” Women are often lured into CPCs only to find that the staff members usually have no professional training and the environment is filled with inaccurate, anti-choice information.

By calling themselves “Women’s Resource Centers” or “Loving Care Pregnancy Centers,” CPCs mislead women to think they are clinics that provide a full range of services. And CPCs will often locate themselves near legitimate reproductive health centers, confusing women even further.

It’s common for CPCs to use misleading films, ultrasound pictures, and written materials to scare and emotionally manipulate women into continuing their pregnancies. By presenting women with false information about abortion and the development of the fetus, CPCs threaten women’s abilities to make informed choices.

The Facts Speak Louder than the Myths

Everyone deserves information that is medically accurate and untainted by a political agenda. When considering abortion, talk to a trusted health care provider, and make sure you have information that is accurate and unbiased. If you need an appointment to discuss your own options for an unintended pregnancy, please call 1-800-230-PLAN for the Planned Parenthood center nearest you.

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