Happy 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade! I feel especially attached to the Supreme Court decision (and I never forget which anniversary it is) because I was born in 1973.
I am very excited about the Obama administration already working to repair the damage done to reproductive health and choice by the Bush administration. There has been a lot of speculation about plans to overturn the Global Gag Rule, to freeze the new HHS conscience rule, and to increase funding for evidence based reproductive health care. Since this is being discussed all over the internets already, I am going to focus on some common myths about abortion.
Myth #1: Making abortion illegal (for example, by overturning Roe v. Wade) will decrease abortions.
Fact #1 Abortions do not decrease in countries with restrictive abortion laws. (Guttmacher Institute – Abortion law)
Myth #2 Making abortion illegal (for example, by overturning Roe v. Wade) is “pro-life”
Fact #2 In fact, according to the World Health Organization, “As such, the number of maternal deaths, not abortions, is the most visible consequence of legal restrictions on abortion”. Illegal abortion causes 20 to 50 times as many deaths as legal abortion.
Myth #3 Christians, especially Catholics, do not get abortions or support abortion
Fact #3 Forty-three percent of women obtaining abortions identify themselves as Protestant, and 27% as Catholic. (Guttmacher Institute – who gets abortions)
Myth #4 Women who get abortions wouldn’t get one if they knew what it was like to be a mother (or, if they had an ultrasound and just realized that it is a “real baby” they would change their minds).
Fact #4 60% of women who get abortions already have a child. They know full well what being pregnant means, and what raising a child entails.
Myth #5 Ultrasounds are required to make abortions medically safe
Fact #5 Ultrasound is not required for dating early pregnancies, nor is it medically required for safe abortions. Ultrasound laws are deliberately created to try to discourage abortion, not to make them safer. In fact, the laws are intrusive, require a vaginal ultrasound in many cases, cost more, and lead women to get abortions later due to higher cost.
Myth #6 “Party girls” have abortions as a form of birth control, and don’t want to “take responsibility”.
Fact #6 The reasons most women give for getting abortions indicate their responsibility. 3/4 of women who seek an abortion say their main reason is their feeling of responsibility to others. This is usually their existing children or others they care for. Other reasons include a lack of money to raise a child, work and school.
Myth #7 Most abortions occur late in pregnancy, and it is just like killing a baby.
Fact #7 About 90% of abortions in the United States occur in the first trimester of pregnancy. There is minimal tissue removed, and it is just like having a heavy period. In fact, many women who are not on contraception have early miscarriages in the first trimester and don’t even know they were pregnant.
Myth #8 Legal abortion is dangerous.
Fact #8 Legal abortion is one of the safest medical procedures available. Abortions performed in the first trimester pose virtually no long-term risk of such problems as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or birth defect, and no increased risk of cancer, including breast cancer.
Myth #9 Abortions cause depression and mental health problems for women who have them.
Fact #9 Abortions have repeatedly been shown to not increase risk of depression or mental health problems when compared to unplanned pregnancies that are carried to term.
Myth #10 Only careless women have unintended pregnancies, and very few women get abortions, women I don’t have to care about.
Fact #10 Again from the Guttmacher Institute: About half of American women have experienced an unintended pregnancy, and at current rates more than one-third (35%) will have had an abortion by age 45.
Look around you. If you know more than three women, chances are, someone you know has had an abortion.
I could go on, and I might add more later, but I have to get back to school.
(I didn’t link every fact individually, but they are all covered in the links above.)