Informed consent, or informed choice requires having all the facts when coming to a decision. The difficulties associated with making a choice about an unwanted pregnancy can sometimes be heightened by the misinformation and controversy surrounding that choice. It is incredibly important to remember that at the end of the day, the choice is YOURS to make, and no one else’s. If you are considering an abortion, it is important to know the facts from the misinformation. Presented below is a list of common myths surrounding abortions, and the facts behind them.
1. Abortion is against the bible!
No, it isn’t. According to Exodus 21:22 – 25 (American King James) “If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then you shall give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe”
For those of us who do believe in the existence of God, what does this actually mean? Simple: an already existing life, like that of the mother, is worth more than that of a life that as of yet has not come into existence, like that of a fetus. That is why the punishment for causing a miscarriage is only a fine, and the punishment for hurting the mother is an eye for an eye. This means that by forcing a woman to undergo a pregnancy, you are effectively hurting the mother. Should the mother suffer mental anguish, the punishment, according to God would be your own mental anguish. If the mother should die because you forced her to undergo the pregnancy, then the punishment, according to God, would be death. You are committing a heinous crime in the eyes of God by preventing an abortion. For those of us who don’t believe in God, then this argument shouldn’t matter.
2. Abortion is some racist government plot to keep the minority population down
Yes, people actually do make that argument. Guess what? Caucasians have abortions too. While minorities did at one point have a higher abortion rate, that can easily be attributed to the disparity between minorities and whites in terms of wealth and access to affordable health care, contraceptives, and education. Abortion rates in general, according to the Guttmacher Institute, are actually going down, and that trend is also represented within minorities due to easier access to birth control, more options, and better public education. This argument would have merit if there was encouragement for minorities to have abortions not white women. Fortunately, there is no credible evidence that institutional abortions are actually encouraged.
3. Life begins at conception!
Conception occurs when a sperm cell fertilizes an ova, or egg. Sperm and ovum are haploid cells, meaning they contain half the genetic information as a somatic (body) cell, known as a diploid cell. When the two combine during fertilization the resulting new, diploid cell, is called a zygote. This cell undergoes mitosis, or cell division, much like all the other cells in your body. After some divisions, the resulting clump of cells, called a blastocyst, is very generalized; they do not have a set defined purpose yet. Eventually they form into brain cells, skin cells, bone marrow, and all the various cellular structures throughout your body. You are not considered to be committing murder if you give blood or bone marrow, or if you cut yourself and damage some of your skin cells or lose white blood cells, so why are these cells different? Some argue because they have a potential to become a human being. This, of course is true. But that begs the question, if they have the potential to become a human being, but aren’t human beings yet, then how can they be a life? Furthermore, human DNA is made up of various proteins and amino acids that have been found on meteorites and are present in meat. All those amino acids and proteins have the potential to one day combine into some sort of life. Why are those not protected?
4. Abortion causes pain to the fetus
There is at this point insufficient evidence proving or disproving the theory that a fetus feels pain at any stage of development. It is incredibly unlikely that first or second trimester abortions cause an embryo or fetus pain, since the nervous system does not actually fully develop to the point where there is a recognizable nervous system until gestational week 9. At this point, the option for a chemical abortion (using the drug mifepristone) becomes unviable, and surgical abortions such as D&C (dilation and curettage, up until the 16th week of pregnancy), or D&E (dilation and evacuation, used following 16 weeks gestation). Surgical abortions generally need anaesthesia. Since anesthetic drugs do pass through the placenta, assuming a fetus could actually feel pain at this point, it would also be anesthetized, and therefore, much like an adult undergoing anaesthesia, unable to feel pain anyway.
5. Abortion increases your risk of breast cancer
Not according to the American Cancer Society. Coming from a scientific background, it is safe to say that there has been no credible study linking the two. While some studies have shown a correlation, they were fundamentally flawed through either a far too small sample group, or because they relied on “self-reporting.” Since abortion is such a taboo subject, many women are reluctant to admit to having one, making self-reports a flawed method of collecting data.
6. Abortion causes suicidal behaviors and thoughts in the woman, or other mental health issues.
Again, this is bad science –there is a correlation between mental health issues and abortions, especially multiple abortions, but this does not prove causation. Generally speaking, unwanted pregnancies cause undue stress in and of themselves and can act as triggers for dormant mental illnesses. In the case of multiple abortions, generally speaking most women who find themselves undergoing multiple abortions have preëxisting mental illnesses that put them at a higher risk of unwanted pregnancy. People suffering from substance abuse disorders, victims of sexual assault or abuse, or other groups of “vulnerable” women are more likely to have difficulties using birth control properly. Furthermore, many abortions are not the result of an unwanted pregnancy, but the result of a wanted pregnancy gone awry — birth defects, genetic illnesses, or death of the embryo or fetus without expulsion are some of the many reasons a wanted pregnancy may result in termination — the struggles of losing a wanted fetus is often difficult, especially if there are comorbid fertility issues as well. Again, it is important to remember that correlation does not equal causation, especially when there are plenty of variables that are ignored in trying to draw favorable conclusions.
7. Abortion causes Toxic Shock Syndrome
Generally speaking, Toxic Shock Syndrome following a legal abortion done by a qualified professional presents an extremely low risk. TSS occurs by a bacterial toxin called Staphylococcus aureus. The issue with TSS and abortions results mainly from non-sterile conditions, and can also be caused by the incomplete expulsion of fetal matter. This was of much concern, along with haemorrhage back when abortions were illegal and women had to result to back room abortions by less than qualified practitioners. The risk of contracting TSS is extremely low in modern-day abortions.
8. They pour acid into your uterus during an abortion!
This one is actually true — or it was, in the 1800s. Modern day techniques do not use of acid.
9. Abortion affects future pregnancies by increasing your risk of sterility / ectopic pregnancies / placenta previa /placental abruption
There is no scientific link between an abortion done by a qualified professional and infertility, ectopic pregnancies, placenta previa (when the placenta attaches over the cervix), or placental abruption (when the placenta comes away from the uterine wall). Again, this is bad science and misinformation. Many women have gone on to have relatively normal pregnancies free of complications following an abortion. The decision a woman makes in response to an unwanted pregnancy is hers and hers alone to make. It can sometimes be extremely difficult to navigate through the propaganda in order to come to that decision. It is incredibly important that a woman is fully aware of the facts before making a decision that can be life-changing. Informed consent is essential to any procedure, and it is important that women are presented with genuine fact as opposed to misinformation.