Abortion opponents often use misinformation and outright lies to support their political agenda. We expect to see these same tactics used in this year’s legislative session. Staying informed and up to date on the facts is your best defense against these misinformation campaigns.
We’ve gathered some common myths about abortion you may be hearing from lawmakers — or even friends and loved ones — and the facts you should know with evidence from credible sources.
Myth: Abortion is dangerous.
Fact: Abortion is a very safe and simple procedure — in fact, people are 14 times more likely to die during pregnancy/childbirth than they are from an abortion.
According to a 2018 study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, legal abortions in the U.S. are safe and effective. Serious complications are rare and occur less frequently than during childbirth. The study also found that having an abortion does not increase the risk of infertility, preterm birth, or breast cancer.
A 2012 study using data from the CDC showed that the mortality rate for pregnancy was 8.8 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to 0.6 deaths per 100,000 abortions.
The World Health Organization says: “Abortion is a common health intervention. It is safe when carried out using a method recommended by WHO, appropriate to the pregnancy duration and by someone with the necessary skills.” The organization also stresses that abortion restrictions only serve to make abortion a less safe option.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says: "Complication rates from abortion are extremely low. Only about 2% of women who undergo abortion experience a complication associated with the abortion, and most complications are minor and easily treatable with follow-up procedures or antibiotics.
Myth: People often regret getting an abortion.
Fact: The vast majority of people who get an abortion do not end up regretting it – instead, they report feeling relief.
According to the Turnaway Study, 99% of study participants who had an abortion reported after five years that the decision to have an abortion was right for them. The most common emotion participants reported after five years was relief.
Comparatively, people who sought an abortion but were denied due to gestational age restrictions fared worse after five years than those who received an abortion, including increased household poverty, more difficulty paying for basic living expenses, and more serious health problems.
Myth: Medication abortion is reversible.
Fact: There is no clinical evidence suggesting that using progesterone to reverse a medication abortion is effective.
ACOG does not support prescribing progesterone to stop a medication abortion. Studies supporting this procedure are not backed by an institutional review board or ethical review committee. Progesterone hasn't been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration for reversing a medication abortion.
Myth: Only people seeking abortions are affected by legislative restrictions.
Fact: Restricting abortion access limits doctors’ ability to provide important medical care.
In October 2022, the U.S. Senate released a report that found that “state-imposed restrictions on abortion care affect all women seeking reproductive health care, even in states where abortion remains legal.”
Several cases like this have already been publicized:
- In July 2022, a woman in Wisconsin was denied miscarriage management care in the emergency room due to the state’s abortion legislation.
- In September 2022, a 14-year-old girl in Arizona was denied a life-saving medication for her chronic medical conditions because the medication can also be used to end ectopic pregnancies.
- In October 2022, a woman was forced to drive 18 hours to receive treatment for an ectopic pregnancy, a condition which can be life-threatening without care.
In addition to impacting people seeking health care services, abortion restrictions can intervene in how doctors provide care. For that reason, medical providers may opt to train and practice in states with fewer restrictions, which would take away from North Carolina’s already limited health care resources.
Myth: Without regulation, doctors will provide abortions up until the moment of birth.
Fact: These scenarios do not occur, nor are they legal, in the U.S. The vast majority of abortions are performed prior to 21 weeks, and those that are performed later in pregnancy are often medically necessary.
In 2020, only 0.2% of abortions (48 total abortions) performed on North Carolina residents were after 21 weeks gestation, according to the NC Department of Health and Human Services.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, it’s common for fetal structural anomalies to be discovered later in pregnancy, including lethal fetal anomalies, which may mean the fetus is nonviable. In these cases, many individuals wish to terminate their pregnancies, rather than carrying a nonviable pregnancy to term.
Life threatening conditions may also develop later in pregnancy, in which case the pregnant person may seek termination to preserve their own health. While some restrictions on abortion later in pregnancy include exceptions for medical emergencies, the circumstances required to qualify for these exceptions are often unclear, and doctors may fear legal action for providing life-saving care.
Myth: Doctors are withholding care from infants born from abortions later in pregnancy.
Fact: This claim has nothing to do with how abortion care actually works and is not based in medical reality.
There is no evidence that this has ever been an issue. Doctors already have an obligation to provide appropriate medical care. Claims like these are used solely to perpetuate myths and lies about abortion.
Myth: People get abortions for unethical reasons.
Fact: There is no wrong reason to get an abortion. People should have the right to control what they do with their bodies, full stop.
According to the Turnaway Study, the most common reasons for seeking an abortion are limited financial resources, the pregnancy coming at the wrong time in life, and not having adequate support. Two thirds of abortion patients already have at least one child, meaning they know the physical, emotional, and financial responsibility that an additional child would bring.
That being said, we cannot know all the personal and medical circumstances behind someone’s decision to continue or end a pregnancy. Every person’s situation is different, and we should respect that this decision is theirs to make.