Debunking Popular Anti-Choice Myths

23 Aug

Often times anti-choicers will use misinformation and biased sources to turn people onto their way of thinking. I wanted to take this opportunity to debunk a number of popular anti-choice myths using statistics and studies from non-biased sources.

Myth: Pro-choice really just means pro-abortion

Fact: Pro-choice activists fight for much more than just abortion rights. The basis of the pro-choice argument is that individual women should be able to make choices about their own bodies. In addition to abortion rights, we push for comprehensive sex education, easier and cheaper/free access to birth control, and the right of pregnant women to give birth the way they choose.

Myth: The fetus can feel pain

Fact: According to the UK Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, fetuses under 24 weeks do not have the capacity to feel pain. According to the RCOG

In reviewing the neuroanatomical and physiological evidence in the fetus, it was apparent that connections from the periphery to the cortex are not intact before 24 weeks of gestation and, as most neuroscientists believe that the cortex is necessary for pain perception, it can be concluded that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior to this gestation.

The majority of abortions are done long before this. The roughly 1% of abortions performed after the 24th week are generally wanted pregnancies that are being terminated due to serious health problems or complications.

Myth: Adoption is an alternative to abortion

Fact: While adoption is an alternative to being a parent, abortion is the only alternative to being pregnant. There are multiple reasons a woman may not want to be pregnant for 9 months including mental health issues, rape, incest, physical or mental disabilities, health problems, monetary issues, and lack of healthcare.

Myth: Abortion causes breast cancer

Fact: According to the American Cancer Society research has shown no cause-and-effect relationship between abortion and breast cancer.

The largest, and probably the most reliable study on this topic was done during the 1990s in Denmark, a country with very detailed medical records on all its citizens. In that study, all Danish women born between 1935 and 1978 (a total of 1.5 million women) were linked with the National Registry of Induced Abortions and with the Danish Cancer Registry. So all information about their abortions and their breast cancer came from registries, was very complete, and was not influenced by recall bias.

After adjusting for known breast cancer risk factors, the researchers found that induced abortion(s) had no overall effect on the risk of breast cancer. The size of this study and the manner in which it was done provides good evidence that induced abortion does not affect a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.

Myth: If abortion is illegal, abortion rates will drop

Fact: According to this study done by the World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute, there is no connection between the legality of abortion and the number of abortions preformed. There is, however, a connection between the legality of abortion and the safety of the women seeking them. As is there a connection between the number of abortions performed and the availability of contraception.

Myth: Women who get abortions suffer from Post-Abortion Syndrome

Fact: Many anti-choice groups say women will suffer from depression after having an abortion, or as they call it, post-abortion syndrome. According to the Guttmacher Institute there is no proof that abortion is directly related to depression or trauma.

Nancy Adler, professor of psychology at the University of California, San Francisco, testified that “severe negative reactions are rare and are in line with those following other normal life stresses.” While acknowledging that there were flaws in much of the research, she testified nonetheless that the weight of the evidence persuasively showed that “abortion is usually psychologically benign.” Echoing Koop’s point about the public health implications, Adler said that given the millions of women who had had abortions, “if severe reaction were common, there would be an epidemic of women seeking treatment. There is no evidence of such an epidemic.”

Myth: Women who have abortions are selfish and just don’t want to be inconvenienced by having kids

Fact: According to the Guttmacher Institute 61% of abortions are obtained by women who have one or more children. Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents.

Myth: Abortion is unsafe / causes infertility

Fact: Abortion is actually safer than continued pregnancy. According to the Guttmacher Institute fewer than 0.3% of abortion patients experience a complication that requires hospitalization. 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 little or no risk of preterm or low-birth-weight deliveries.



9 Responses to “Debunking Popular Anti-Choice Myths”

  1. Dee August 23, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

    How much do I love you guys for posting this?! I’m tired of all the inaccurate information that antis as posting online, and now I’m going to bookmark this page. Cheers!

  2. SC August 23, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    I passed this on in a post on my Xanga. Lots of people think that the Guttmacher Institute is a “semi-autonomous division of The Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The man it is named after was an abortionist. Do you normally get you information from such biased sources as that? You and I both know that they had the results printed up before they did the research. And if they did any research at all, they discarded anything that would get them defunded by their parent organization planned parenthood.”

    That was a comment I got. (you can see it here

    Personally, I think this is a great post. Lots of info. I’d like to see any info that refutes the info in this post.

    Good work.

  3. The_Ambient_One August 23, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    I am VERY happy you guys did this. The one thing I don’t see here, which is something MANY pro-lifers try to use to influence woman and men is the subject of Infantcide. I have never seen any proof that such a thing exists, but have heard many CareNet workers bring this up. They say Infantcide is the death of almost full term babies who are aborted crying etc. They claimed that most Infantcide takes place in Chicago. Again, I’ve seen no evidence. Do you have any info on this crazy tactic?

  4. Persephone August 23, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    Thanks everyone! SC, I’ve also heard an anti-choicer say that the american cancer society is a biased source with a pro-choice agenda. You really can’t win with them but at least this can help some people who may have heard their lies and need some clarification.

    Ambient_One I’ve heard that too but haven’t been able to find any solid proof one way or another. Which strongly suggests that it’s not true.

  5. TiG August 24, 2010 at 9:12 am #

    thanks for posting this! not everyone is aware of just HOW MUCH the anti-choicers lie like rugs.

  6. Lisa September 2, 2010 at 2:14 pm #

    Why is all the information cited from Guttmacher Institute, an organization that takes a clear public position supporting abortion. Doesn’t seem very objective. Would you believe data from a pro-life research institute just because they said so?

  7. Persephone September 2, 2010 at 3:39 pm #

    Lisa, you’ll notice there are 4 sources cited, not just one.

    However, the Guttmacher Institute documents it’s references for each study thoroughly and has been designated an official Collaborating Center for Reproductive Health by the World Health Organization.


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