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Debunking Myths: 5 Common Misconceptions About Abortion

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The anti-choice lobby is good at one thing—perpetuating inaccurate information and downright lies about abortion. These misconceptions threaten women’s health by distorting basic facts about abortion, potentially warping women’s decision-making process and hijacking their bodily autonomy.

HowToUse’s mission is to increase access to unbiased, factual information about reproductive health so that women all over the world feel confident about exercising their reproductive freedom. That’s why we are in the business of debunking dangerous abortion myths like the following:

  1. Women regret their abortions

    The anti-choice side talks often about the regret, grief, and sadness women feel after terminating a pregnancy. Even reproductive rights advocates themselves sometimes characterize abortion as a “difficult” decision. But research shows this line of thinking is decidedly false—a study published in the academic journali Plos One One found that 95% of women who had abortions felt it was the right decision. Another study found that women are more likely to report feeling relief than anger and regret, and that most women report feeling highly confident in their decision to terminate their pregnancy.
  2. Abortions are rare

    According to anti-choice advocates, abortions are rare procedures reserved only for the most desperate women and girls among us who have no other choices. In fact, abortion is among the most common medical procedures in the world. The World Health Organization estimates 56 million abortions occur around the world every year. But because abortion is so highly stigmatized, many women don’t discuss their experiences, which lends credence to the anti-choice side’s claim that abortion is rare. Also, women from all demographic groups and in all kinds of different situations obtain abortions, not just the most bereft in society, as the anti-choice side would have us believe. The Guttmacher Institute reports that less than 5% of U.S. abortions are performed on minors, and more than one-third of abortion recipients are in their mid-to-late 20s.
  3. Abortions are dangerous

    Those opposed to women’s reproductive freedom will often highlight the supposed dangerous side effects that can result from abortion procedures, including infertility. The fact is, abortion is one of the safest medical procedures available, and is even safer than childbirth safer than childbirth (when performed legally by or under guidance of a health professional). Abortion is especially safe when it is legal and when women have access to health services. When the opposite happens, in places where abortion is legally restricted, women have to turn to underground or unsafe methods which can lead to complications and poor health outcomes. Research is very clear that restricting abortion does not actually prevent abortions from happening, but it does put women’s health at risk.
  4. Abortions affect future fertility

    Related to the myth that abortions are dangerous, anti-choice advocates would also have to believe that having an abortion has deleterious effects on one’s chances of getting pregnant in the future. Actually, there is no evidence that having a surgical or medical abortion has any impact at all on fertility. Some studies indicate that having multiple abortions could contribute to placenta-related complications , but that has nothing to do with actually conceiving and having a successful pregnancy.
  5. Legalizing abortions leads to more abortions

    One of the biggest lies out there is that providing access to safe abortions will increase abortion rates. Anti-choice advocates claim that abortion needs to be kept illegal to stop it from happening, when in fact there is no evidence that restricting abortions has any preventive effect. In a study of multiple countries around the world with different abortion laws, researchers found that rates of abortion were roughly the same regardless of abortion’s legality. The difference was in how many unsafe abortions were performed—countries with more restrictions tended to have much higher rates of unsafe abortions, meaning they didn't use both a recommended abortion method and a trained provider.
    The effect these myths have on reproductive freedom is devastating. Misinformation leads to bad policymaking that restrict access to safe abortions and negatively affects women’s health overall. Inaccurate information also affects women’s own decision-making process, limiting the full range of her reproductive autonomy, and potentially leading to bad health outcomes. Debunking myths is part of our overall strategy of increasing access to accurate, unbiased information and supporting women’s right to make fully informed, confident decisions about their own health care.
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