Informational Resources Book of Choices

Myths About Abortion

Deciding whether or not to choose an abortion can be a difficult decision. There is a lot of misinformation—some of it spread by anti-choice groups that can make the decision even harder. Here are some of the most common misconceptions about abortion and the real facts behind them.

MYTH: Abortion is more dangerous than natural child birth.
FACT: Abortion is one of the most common medical procedures performed in the United States and one of the safest. The risk of complications such as heavy bleeding or infection is less than one percent. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 88 percent of women who seek abortion do so before 13 weeks of gestation. Of these women, 97 percent have no complications, 2.5 percent have minor complications that can be easily treated in the office, and less than 0.5 percent experience serious complications that require surgery or hospitalization. The risk of death is very small: only one death per 500,000 legal abortions occurs when performed before eight weeks. The risk of death associated with child birth is actually eleven times higher than those associated with abortion.

MYTH: Abortion causes breast cancer.
FACT: In 2003, the National Cancer Institute brought together a panel of 100 of the world’s experts on women’s health to evaluate the alleged link between abortion and breast cancer. They looked at dozens of studies on the subject that have been conducted since 1981 and found that the scientific evidence clearly demonstrated that there is no association between abortion and increased breast cancer risk. Unfortunately, anti-choice activists have tried to scare women into thinking there is a link in order to prevent them from choosing abortion.

MYTH: Abortion risks a woman’s future fertility.
FACT: There is no scientific evidence that having an abortion will affect your ability to have a baby in the future. Only when a woman experiences serious but rare complications, such as a very bad infection or damage to the cervix, is future fertility affected. Medical studies show that having an abortion will not make it more difficult to become pregnant. It will not increase the risk of having a miscarriage or an ectopic or tubal pregnancy. It will not cause birth defects, premature labor and birth, or low birth weight.

MYTH: Abortion is very painful.
FACT: Pain management is used in all abortions. Most women experience cramping similar to menstrual cramps during the abortion, especially during a medical abortion. For surgical abortions, you will be offered anesthesia to minimize pain during the procedure.

For medication abortions, you will be offered pain relievers that reduce cramping. Women who have had an abortion report very different levels of discomfort: some say it is quite uncomfortable, some say it is moderate, and some experience very little discomfort.

MYTH: Abortion is expensive.
FACT: The average first-trimester abortion costs around $415. If you have insurance, your health plan may cover some or all of the costs. If you do not have insurance, you may be eligible for Medicaid. In Hawai‘i, Medicaid pays for abortion for low-income women. Many clinics also offer a sliding scale fee system, based on your income, so that the procedure will be more affordable. They may also allow you to use credit cards or work out a payment plan. For more information on payment, see Section VI. Paying for Your Care.

MYTH: Women who have abortions suffer from Post-Abortion Syndrome.
FACT: It is rare for women to suffer long-term emotional problems after having an abortion—in fact; studies show that the rate of post-partum depression (depression after child birth) is higher than the rate of serious depression after abortion. However, anti-choice activists have invented “post-abortion syndrome” and claim women who have had an abortion suffer from a set of emotional symptoms such as severe depression, anxiety, and guilt, in order to scare women and prevent them from choosing abortion. In 1989, the American Psychological Association convened a panel that found no evidence that such a condition exists. Instead, they found most women experience the most stress before choosing abortion. Every woman and every situation is different. You might experience a range of emotions after the procedure. Some women feel relief or a sense that they did the right thing after having an abortion. Others may feel anger, guilt, or sadness for a short time after having an abortion. See An Unplanned Pregnancy: Your Choices for questions that will help you explore your feelings and make the best decision. Anti-choice activists have also sought to attack women’s rights to choose by offering so-called post-abortion counseling that promotes anger against the health care provider, rather than helping women explore their feelings about their situation in an unbiased, supportive atmosphere. The Oakland-based group, Exhale, offers unbiased post-abortion counseling to women nationwide. They can be reached at 1-866-4-EXHALE or at www.4exhale.org

BEWARE OF FRAUDULENT ABORTION CLINICS

Over the past two decades, the anti-choice movement has set up thousands of fake abortion clinics across the country, referring to them as “crisis pregnancy centers.”

Here are some warning signs that a clinic might be fraudulent:

  • When you call to get more information or to set up an appointment, beware of places that tell you they will only give you information if you come into their office. It is your right to ask questions and they should provide you with any basic information you need over the phone.
  • Beware of clinics that advertise free pregnancy tests and counseling but are ambiguous about other health care services including availability of abortion services. These fake clinics do not provide health services for women.

If you are seeking counseling to decide whether or not to continue your pregnancy, you have a right to compassionate, professional, and honest advice about all the options that are available to you. Hawai‘i Planned Parenthood is a good place to start. Call (808) 589-1156 on O‘ahu or visit their website www.pphi.org for clinics on the neighbor islands.

The Portland, OR based organization Backline runs a free talk line that provides unbiased counseling to women about their pregnancy options.  They can be reached at 1-888-493-0092 or www.yourbackline.org

Talk to your doctor, friends, and family so that you can find a reputable, trusted place to get help.

If you are unsure about the information you receive from a website or any other source, please call Hawai‘i Planned Parenthood at (808) 589-1156 or NARAL Pro-Choice New York at (212) 343-0114 and you will be provided with clear information about the choices available to you.



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