Myths and Facts about Abortion
Myth #1. Having an abortion has a higher risk to your health than having a baby.
Fact: Continuing a pregnancy and going through childbirth has 10 x higher health risks than having a first trimester abortion.
Paul M & Stewart F (2007) Abortion. In: Hatcher RA et al. Contraceptive Technology, 19th revised edition. Ardent Media, Inc, New York, NY, p664
- Grimes DA (2006) Estimation of pregnancy-related mortality risk by pregnancy outcome, United States, 1991to 1999. Am J Obstet Gynecol,194, 92-94
- Danel I, Berg C, Johnson CH, Atrash H (2003) Magnitude of maternal morbidity during labor and delivery: United States, 1993-1997. Am J Public Health, 93, 631-634
- Hakim-Elahi E, Tovell HM, Burnhill MS (1990) Complications of first trimester abortion: a report of 170,000 cases. Obstet Gynecol, 76, 129-135
- Raymond EG, Grimes DA. The comparative safety of legal induced abortion and childbirth in the states. Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Feb;119(2 Pt 1):215-9. PMID: 22270271
Myth #2 A woman is more likely to have mental health problems (like depression) if she has an abortion instead of continuing an unplanned pregnancy.
Fact: Among women with an unplanned pregnancy, women who have a single, first-trimester abortion are not at greater risk for mental health problems than if they deliver that pregnancy.
This information comes from the American Psychological Association (APA) Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, which recently completed a comprehensive review of the best research about mental health and abortion.
What that means is that for all the women who have an unplanned pregnancy: some will continue that pregnancy and have a baby; others will have an abortion. From the women choosing to continue that pregnancy—most of them will be fine, some may have difficulty, and some may get depression. Of the women choosing to have a single first trimester abortion for that pregnancy—most of them will be fine, some may have difficulty and some may have depression. The rate of women having depression in the abortion group is not any higher than the rate of women in the continuing the pregnancy group.
The evidence about second trimester abortions or multiple abortions are less clear. Late terminations for fetal abnormality can have more negative outcomes. Women’s individual experiences surrounding abortion are unique and vary depending on individual life circumstances, the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy, relationships, and the social and political culture in which the abortion takes place. The best predictor of how well a woman will do after abortion is how well she was doing before abortion.
Major B, Appelbaum M, Beckman L, Dutton M, Russo, NF, West C (2008) Report of the APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion. 08/13/08. http://www.apa.org/releases/abortion-report.pdf . Accessed 8 July 2009.
- Charles VE, Polis CB, Sridhara, SK, Blum RW (2008) Abortion and long-term mental health outcomes: A systematic review of the evidence. Contraception, 78(6), 436-450
Myth #3. Having an abortion in the first 3 months of pregnancy makes it more difficult to get pregnant in the future.
Fact: A single first trimester abortion does not have a significant effect on future fertility.
Paul M & Stewart F (2007) Abortion. In: Hatcher RA et al. Contraceptive Technology, 19th revised edition. Ardent Media, Inc, New York, NY, p664.
- Hogue, CJ (1986) Impact of abortion on subsequent fecundity. Clinics in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 13(1), 95-103
Myth #4. Having an abortion increases your risk of breast cancer.
Fact: Abortion does NOT change your breast cancer risk.
American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (2009) ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) Committee Opinion: Induced Abortion and Breast Cancer Risk. Obstet Gynecol 113 (6): pp 1417-1418
- Beral V, Bull D, Doll R, Peto R, Reeves G, & Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer (2004) Breast cancer and abortion: Collaborative reanalysis of data from 53 epidemiological studies, including 83,000 women with breast cancer from 16 countries. Lancet, 363(9414), 1007-1016
- National Cancer Institute. (2005) Summary report: Early reproductive events and breast cancer workshop. Issues in Law & Medicine, 21(2), 161-165
Myth #5. All religious groups are against a woman’s right to choose an abortion.
Fact: There are several religions and religious groups that support women’s right to make decisions about birth control and abortion.
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) was founded in 1973 by pro-choice clergy and lay leaders from different faiths and traditions. For more information about religious groups that support women in their decisions, take a look at the RCRC website. http://www.rcrc.org/