If the anti-choice argument were as strong as its proponents like to think, it would be supported by sound science. It’s not. Anti-abortion zealots traffic in lies and half-truths. For women already conflicted over abortion, those lies can be the source of guilt, self-loathing, and fear. Researchers have crafted well-designed studies about the effects of abortion for decades. The inevitable conclusion? Anti-choicers are wrong about almost everything. Here are six pieces of abortion science anti-choicers don’t want you to know.
The Most Common Emotion After Abortion is Relief
The conservative myth of a woman agonizing over her decision to have an abortion is largely a myth. Women are human beings, and human beings vary, of course. So some women do regret their abortions–just as some women regret their children. But research has found that, even when women have mixed feelings about seeking an abortion, 90% of them experience relief in the week following abortion. What’s more, an avalanche of research has found that post-abortion syndrome is a myth. Some women do feel sad following an abortion. These feelings are more common in women terminating wanted pregnancies due to fetal anomalies or threats to their own lives.
Abortion Saves Lives
Abortion doesn’t cause breast cancer. It doesn’t trigger infertility or lead to problems with subsequent pregnancies. It does save lives. The US is in the midst of a maternal mortality crisis, with maternal death rates that rival rates in some third world nations. Research suggests that access to affordable abortions could save lives. Specifically, research suggests that fewer restrictions, including the ability of midwives to perform abortions, could stem the tide of maternal deaths.
When Abortion is Illegal, Suicide Becomes a Leading Cause of Death Among Pregnant Women
Banning abortion doesn’t end the practice. It sends it underground. Illegal abortions kill women and the fetuses they carry. When El Salvador banned abortion, 11% of women and girls seeking abortions began dying. Anti-choicers know this information because it’s readily available. But their legislation has always been about punishing women, not saving babies.
As if thousands of deaths due to illegal abortions aren’t troubling enough, things go from bad to worse: 57% of pregnant women and girls in El Salvador now die from suicide. This makes it the leading cause of pregnancy-related death.
Abortion Science Tells Us Outcomes Among Women Denied Abortion Are Disastrous
The Turnaway Study is an ongoing study of women denied abortions, largely due to restrictive abortion laws. Women in the study don’t magically become financially stable or thrilled about having kids. Instead, they’re more likely to remain with abusive partners, more likely to live in poverty, more likely to need government assistance, and significantly more likely to have mental health problems. Post-abortion syndrome isn’t real, but postpartum depression is very real. And it’s much more common among poor women and women who are denied abortions.
We Know How to Prevent Abortion–and Right Wingers Oppose Abortion Prevention
Research has consistently shown that a few simple strategies can lower the abortion rate: access to contraceptives, including free contraceptives; comprehensive sex education; quality prenatal and maternal health care, and programs to end poverty. Anti-choicers oppose all of these policies because their concerns are and never were about babies and the women carrying them.
Abortion is Extraordinarily Safe
One of the best ways to get a woman to second-guess her decision to have an abortion is to convince her the abortion might kill her. Right wingers love abortion horror stories. The truth, however, is that abortion is incredibly safe. Pregnancy is significantly more likely to kill women–particularly when they have few resources and inadequate health care, which are primary motivators for many women’s abortions.