Abortion is a medical procedure that ends a pregnancy. For millions of women and girls, abortion is basic healthcare. Studies have shown that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in abortion every year. However, while the need for abortion is common, it can be dangerously difficult for people to find access to safe and legal abortion services.
The most recent attack on abortion has been levied in Alabama, where the Republican Governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey signed the strictest anti-abortion law in the nation, making it a felony for any doctor to perform an abortion. While most people support a women’s right to have an abortion, the election of President Trump has embolden many far-right conservatives to go on the offensive. Other backward-thinking states like Georgia and Missouri are racing to pass legislation similar to Alabama’s draconian anti-abortion law.
However, in the face of these conservative attacks on a woman’s right to choose, some states are enacting laws that provide greater protection for abortions. In Vermont, a state where there currently are no legal limits on when a woman may decide to end a pregnancy, the legislature is in the process of passing a bill that would prohibit the government from interfering in anyway with the right to have an abortion. Supporters of the bill say they want to send a message to the nation that Vermont is a state that respects women and a woman’s constitutional right to choose.
It’s no secret that most anti-abortion supporters are the biggest hypocrites in politics. A classic example of this can be seen in Republican Tim Murphy, an anti-abortion advocate who resigned after text messages surfaced showing he asked a woman whom he was having an extra-marital affair with to have an abortion. It’s also no secret that conservatives, especially older conservatives are more likely to believe and share fake news. To help cut-through the hypocrisy and falsehoods, here’s 8 things you should know about abortion.
1. A majority of Americans, nearly 70%, support Roe v. Wade. In Roe v. Wade, the US Supreme Court held that a woman’s right to have an abortion is a fundamental right guaranteed by the US Constitution. If you’re a law-and-order hardliner, you should be on the front lines supporting the pro-women movement.
2. Legal abortion is safe, and they can be safely provided in clinics and doctor’s offices. Some states, and many conservative news outlets have tried to propagate the falsehood that abortions are dangerous. Today, legal abortions are a very safe procedure. Multiple studies, including a 2018 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, demonstrated that when legal, abortions pose very limited risks. Moreover, studies have shown that modern abortion procedures do not cause lasting health issues like cancer or infertility.
3. Taking a high-risk pregnancy to term is 14 times more dangerous than having an abortion. Studies have shown that less than 1% of first-trimester abortions lead to complications. However, the risk of death associated with childbirth is approximately 14 times higher than with abortion.
4. Outlawing abortion does not reduce it. A study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute (a non-profit organization dedicated to research and policy organization that advances sexual and reproductive health and rights in the US and globally), revealed that countries with the strongest anti-abortion laws have the highest rates of abortion. In places where abortion is illegal, women are forced to resort to unsafe means to end unwanted pregnancies, including self-inflicted bodily trauma, ingestion of dangerous chemicals, self-medication through a variety of drugs, and reliance on unqualified abortion providers. In short, making abortion illegal greatly increases the danger and risk to all women and girls.
5. Providing birth control reduces abortion rates. The Colorado Department of Public Health was given a private grant to study the effects of free birth control on abortion rates. The research program provided long-acting reversible contraceptives (like IUDs and hormone implants) to low-income women for little to no cost. The results were incredibly positive, as abortion rates declined by nearly 50% for teens aged 15-19, and 20% for young women aged 20-24.
6. Over 90% of women who have an abortion believe they made the right decision. While many women experience mixed emotions after an abortion, 95% of women who have abortions ultimately feel that they made the right decision.
7. Fetuses cannot feel pain until 24th week of pregnancy at the earliest. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as well as Britain’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agree that 24 weeks is the absolute earliest a fetus can perceive pain. Moreover, a survey study conducted in 2005 revealed that fetuses most likely cannot perceive pain until 29 to 30 weeks of development.
8. Women who are denied abortions are more likely to become unemployed, to be on public welfare, to live below the poverty line, and to become victims of domestic violence. A study by the University of California revealed that women who were turned away from abortion clinics (because they had passed the gestational limit imposed by the clinic) were 3 times more likely to live below the poverty line than women who were able to obtain abortions. 76% of those women who were turned away ended up on unemployment benefits, compared to just 44% who had abortions. The same study found that women who were not able to obtain an abortion were more likely to stay in an abusive relationship than women who had an abortion.