Common Abortion Myths
Myth number 1: Only young and irresponsible women have abortions.
This is simply untrue!
Any woman may choose to access abortion care. Women have about 3 decades of fertility to navigate, and many women who choose to access abortion care already have children. In fact, in 2015 the rate of young women under 18 who chose abortion was only 6.83% of all abortions in England and Wales.
Women over 30 made up 33.82% of all abortions in England and Wales in 2015. And as for the idea of being ‘irresponsible’, the facts to myth number 2 will clear that up…
Myth number 2: If women used contraception they wouldn’t need abortions.
It’s estimated that every year 33 million women all over the world will have an unplanned pregnancy while they are using contraception. The reality is that no contraception is 100% effective. Even if ‘the morning after pill’ is taken, if you are already at a point in your cycle when you are ovulating, this may be ineffective.
The most effective type of emergency contraception is to arrange to have an IUD (coil) fitted within five days of having unprotected sex (the failure rate of the coil as emergency contraception is less than 1%). Unfortunately, some women become pregnant through rape, or may be being controlled by their partner, in which case contraception may not have been an option at the time.
Myth number 3: Vitamin C can induce a ‘natural home abortion’.
There’s a lot of information online about ‘natural home abortion’ or ‘Vitamin C abortion’.
The internet can be a wonderful resource for researching your health options unfortunately, it can be also spread myths that have no medical grounds. There’s no evidence that taking large amounts of Vitamin C can cause an abortion, but it may cause stomach pain, diarrhoea and flatulence.
Unfortunately, ‘natural home abortion’ methods don’t mean that they are safe. If you’re considering abortion it’s best to seek information from reputable, regulated providers with experienced, specialist staff.
Myth number 4: Abortion increases the chance that a woman will develop breast cancer.
That is not true!
This myth appears in lots of literature handed out by people who have anti-choice views. The World Health Organization has published that their data shows no increased risk. There is no medical evidence from reputable sources that having an abortion will increase your risk of developing breast cancer later. This should not be a concern for women who are considering having an abortion.
Myth number 5: Having an abortion will make it difficult to get pregnant in the future, it can make you infertile.
Fertility can return as soon as two weeks after an abortion.
In a regulated, safe, and legal clinic there should be no cause for fertility issues after treatment. At Marie Stopes UK we follow the World Health Organisation’s recommendations to provide safe ‘vacuum aspiration’ for surgical abortion, and medical abortions up to 9 weeks + 3 days using mifepristone and misoprostol tablets.
This myth most likely started when women were using illegal abortion providers, which didn’t use the safe procedures and medical checks that clinics use today. This myth could lead to more unplanned pregnancies if women believe they will be infertile after an abortion. Our team can chat to you about ongoing contraception for after your appointment.
Myth number 6: Women feel regret, depression and grief following abortion and develop ‘post-abortion stress’ or ‘post-abortion syndrome’.
Every woman is different, and can feel a whole range of emotions around their decision to end a pregnancy. But, regret is not often one of them.
A peer-reviewed research that shows regret is not really felt, with over 99% of women in the study feeling no regret.
In fact, any negative emotion that was felt was associated with abortion stigma. In our experience, women express regret that they have fallen pregnant unintentionally but don’t feel regret about receiving abortion care.
The World Health Organisation found that psychological issues occur in a small number of women who had previously had an abortion, but that this was due to pre-existing conditions and not a result of having had an abortion.
Anti-choice literature often mentions ‘post-abortion stress/syndrome’, but this has no medical basis or authority and it looks like it is only claimed in studies with methods that don’t reach academic standards.
Myth number 7: Abortions are unsafe and often fatal, even with specialist providers.
This myth tries to make women afraid of accessing legal abortion care.
In truth, abortion is very safe when performed in the clean conditions of a clinic registered with the Department of Health and the Care Quality Commission in England and Wales or the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) in Northern Ireland.
In fact, the World Health Organisation says that the risk of death from a safe abortion is lower than death caused by a penicillin injection, or by continuing with a pregnancy.
Myth number 8: An embryo or fetus feels pain during an abortion procedure.
Many trusted, peer-reviewed studies show that a fetus cannot start to feel pain in any sense until the nervous system begins to develop, which is at least 24 weeks gestation. A study in the Journal of American Medicine goes further and suggests that it’s probable that a fetus cannot feel pain before 29 or 30 weeks gestation.
The Department of Health’s 2015 Abortion Statistics show that 92% of abortions in England and Wales were carried out at less than 13 weeks gestation, with 80% of those being under 10 weeks, well before the development of a nervous system.
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