Experts predict that nearly 1 in 4 women (23.7%) in the United States will have an abortion before the age of 45. Abortions have been around for centuries, with people using a variety of different (sometimes dangerous) methods to terminate a pregnancy. In recent decades, abortions have become a safe and common medical procedure, which is more widely accepted than ever.
Growth, many misconceptions continue to be perpetuated about abortions that interfere with a person’s ability to make an informed decision for themselves. Below, we discuss some of the most common negative assumptions about abortions to help you separate the fact from fiction, so you can choose what’s right for you.
Fiction: Abortions Can Harm Fertility
Many people who oppose abortions argue that they’re dangerous and can lead to infertility. But the truth is that when abortions aren’t legalized or regulated, this can increase the risk. Conversely, when the procedure is performed in a proper medical setting with the right care, it’s perfectly safe.
As per Action Canada, only 0.5% of medical abortions result in complications (like an infection). But even in these rare instances, the complications are often minor and treatable.
In addition, there’s been no link between abortion and infertility. Using information from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Healthline explains that abortions don’t normally cause difficulty getting pregnant in the future. There’s also no concrete evidence to suggest it increases the risk of prenatal complications.
It’s actually possible to get pregnant immediately after an abortion, so your doctor may recommend a form of birth control to prevent this from happening.
Fiction: It’s Always A Consequence Of Unsafe Sex
People get abortions for all sorts of reasons. But this has done little to stop the misconception that people who need abortions are irresponsible or promiscuous. It’s easy to assume that an abortion is needed due to a personal mistake – the person engaged in unsafe sex or is being promiscuous.
In some cases, birth control methods fail and result in a pregnancy. One study found that 82% of women needing abortions in the United States became pregnant by someone they knew, many of which were long-term partners.
In other cases, the pregnancy may have been the result of a sexual assault to which the person didn’t consent. With no access to abortion, forcing them to go through the pregnancy can feel like an extension of the assault.
Even if the person wants to have a child, this may not be an ideal time, which is why abortion is a better option. For example, they may not be financially stable or may be in an abusive relationship in which having a baby would make it harder to leave the dangerous situation.
For some people, the pregnancy was very much wanted, but abortion is necessary for medical reasons, such as maternal health issues or fetal abnormalities. If the pregnancy is endangering a mother’s life, her doctor is likely to recommend termination.
However, even if an abortion is needed due to unsafe sex or promiscuity, that shouldn’t affect a person’s access to safe abortion. Attempting to decide who is “worthy” of abortion can limit access, thereby endangering lives.
Fiction: You’ll Regret It Later In Life
It’s suggested that people who get abortions will come to regret it later in life. Even if they experience relief at the moment, having an abortion is often characterized as a decision that will haunt them moving forward.
But research shows that for the majority of people who have an abortion, this isn’t the case. One study found that 99% of people who get an abortion don’t regret their decision.
That’s not to say choosing to terminate a pregnancy is an easy choice with no emotional impact (we discuss that in more detail below), but rather that it’s often the better alternative for those faced with this tough decision.
Fiction: Getting An Abortion Is No Big Deal
Even if the pregnancy wasn’t planned or there’s no regret following the abortion, it doesn’t mean it had no emotional impact. The emotional and mental health effects of an abortion are often overlooked, only exacerbating the situation.
It’s common to feel a range of negative emotions following an abortion. The American Pregnancy Association explains a woman may experience:
- Feeling lonely
- Trouble sleeping
- Low self-confidence
- Problems with relationships
- Thoughts of self-harm, suicide
There are also long-term consequences, too. One study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that women who have abortions are:
- 34% more likely to develop anxiety
- 37% likely to experience depression
- 110% more likely to abuse alcohol
- 155% more likely to commit suicide
- 220% to begin using marijuana
Some opponents of abortion have argued that the procedure’s effect on mental health is a reason it should be outlawed. However, research shows that unintended pregnancy can also stir up similar negative emotions, including stress, depression, and other mental health conditions.
This risk is higher in women who experience a traumatic pregnancy – such as one that was life-threatening, resulting in the death of an infant, or was the product of a sexual assault.
However, simply because a person experiences trauma from their abortion doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right choice for them. As the authors of the study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry Explaining, the risks terminating a pregnancy can have on mental health should be openly discussed with people considering abortion. This should be done in an unbiased manner in order to educate them, not sway them in either direction.
No one can decide if an abortion is right for you except yourself. It’s wise to speak to a medical professional for more information on this subject. But make sure to find someone who’s able to address your questions and concerns in an unbiased manner, so there are no misconceptions informing your decision. You may find it helpful to identify a local organization that provides information and services to people contemplating abortion, like Planned Parenthood.
There’s nothing wrong with getting an abortion, and similarly, there’s nothing wrong with deciding it’s not for you. With the proper information, you’ll be confident in your decision regardless of what you decide and can successfully navigate the challenges that will come your way after the fact.
Sources: Action Canada, Healthline, Guttmacher, Parents, Medical News Today, BMC, Cambridge, Eastside Gynecology, Guttmacher,
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