The passage of a New York law that protects abortion rights and removes criminal penalties for abortion has emboldened right-wing activists. Stories of babies “aborted” in New York abortion clinics while the mother was in labor—a medical impossibility—and of selfish women who decide to kill wanted children at 40 weeks are all over social media. This new surge in anti-choice activism, coupled with the recent March for Life and word that the Supreme Court will likely hear a case that could upend abortion rights, has propagated new and old anti-choice lies.
Anti-choicers can’t tell the truth about abortion because it undermines their cause. One recent study even found that media coverage of abortion typically features men lying about abortion. No wonder these abortion myths persist.
Women Are the Real Victims of Abortion, and Anti-Choice Activists Want to Help Them
Anti-choicers insist that abortion is misogyny and that women suffer immensely after aborting their fetuses. They’re the real good guys, the insist, and are working to help lost women have babies they want.
Yet they’ve done nothing to stop the maternal mortality epidemic. They also consistently oppose any measure that would help women keep their babies, such as paid maternity leave, a raise in the minimum wage, or better health care.
The truth about abortion is that women report relief after an abortion more than any other emotion. Moreover, women denied abortions are significantly more likely to report regret than those who go through with the procedure. The Turnaway Study, an ongoing study that compares women who are denied abortions due to legal restrictions to those who have abortions, has found that women who do not have abortions are more likely to live in poverty, to need governmental assistance, to struggle with mental health issues, and to stay in abusive relationships.
Abortion Causes Mental Health Problems
Numerous studies have found no link between abortion or mental health problems. Most recently, a massive study of nearly 400,000 women does not harm women’s mental health. Being denied an abortion, however, may harm women’s long and short-term mental health. Additionally, one study found that anti-abortion stigma may harm women. This suggests that women who endorse anti-choice sentiments may be more likely to suffer if they have an abortion. So anti-abortion sentiments don’t stop abortion; they just harm women.
Abortion is Dangerous
Anti-choicers have long lobbied for extremely restrictive laws that ostensibly protect women. Meanwhile, they do nothing to stem the tide of women dying from childbirth, postpartum depression, and domestic violence—even though each kills far more women than abortion.
One recent study found that abortions are safer than routine dental surgeries. Women are 14 times more likely to die giving birth than having an abortion. And while a collapsing maternity care system means that most American women have complications such as back pain and incontinence a year or longer after giving birth, the rate of post-abortion complications a year later is almost zero.
Abortion Causes Long-Term Physical Health Issues
The lies change with time, but one of the most persistent ones is that abortion causes breast cancer. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says that early studies on the link between abortion and breast cancer—the ones anti-choicers are most likely to cite—were methodologically flawed. More rigorous research has found no link between abortion and breast cancer.
Adoption is a Viable Alternative to Abortion
Anti-choicers don’t understand why “selfish” women have to “kill” their babies instead of putting them up for adoption. It seems that they think gestating a child and giving birth are easy, and that permanently leaving that child with someone else has no lasting consequences. Put simply, they don’t think women are human, or that their very real emotions and physical suffering matter.
There are more than 100,000 children in the U.S. awaiting adoption. Anti-choicers are not clamoring to adopt them. There is no reason to believe that would change if more children entered the adoption system. While research shows that abortion does not harm, and may even improve, women’s mental health, that is not true for adoption. Adoption is consistently linked to lasting harm for the mother.
Moreover, in a nation that has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, and an unconscionably high rate of preventable pregnancy-related side effects, treating pregnancy as a small price for women to pay marks a fundamental failure to see their full humanity.
Banning Abortion Will End Abortion
Banning abortion doesn’t end abortion. It just makes it less safe. In Latin America, abortion restrictions have actually increased the abortion rate. Across the globe, unsafe illegal abortions are a leading cause of maternal mortality. Anti-choicers don’t want to stop abortion. They want to punish women, potentially with death, for seeking abortions. If you doubt this, consider that several states are considering legislation that would impose the death penalty on women who seek abortions.
They won’t enact legislation that actually supports women or babies because the concern has never been about families. Anti-choicers have consistently opposed research-based measures to reduce the abortion rate. This is about control of women and abuse of children. Don't believe their lies.