The Truth About Abortion

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by Sophia Yen MD MPH, pediatrician, adolescent medicine specialist.

Given that there are banners up on Market Street (San Francisco’s main thoroughfare) telling lies about abortion, saying “Abortion Hurts Women” and that the anti-abortion, anti-birthcontrol, anti-reprojustice marchers/rallies/leaders have been known to say a few myths about abortion, I thought it was important to write a piece about the Truth about Abortion.

The Truth is: Abortion doesn’t hurt women, but lies about abortion and lack of access to abortion hurt women.

Most of this comes from:

1. Abortion is safer than carrying a pregnancy to term (because of the many complications of pregnancy). First trimester abortion is one of the safest medical procedures, with minimal risk of major complications.

2. Abortion does not increase your risk of breast cancer.

3. Women who get abortions do not have a higher rate of depression and drug use, than women who do not get abortions.

4. >70% of women getting an abortion report a religious affiliation. 37% protestant, 28% Catholic and 7% other. 25% attend religious services at least once a month.

5. Abortions performed in the first trimester pose virtually no long-term risk of problems such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or birth defect, and little or no risk of preterm or low-birth-weight deliveries.

6. 90% of abortions occur in the 1st 12 weeks of pregnancy. 33% occur at 6 weeks of pregnancy or earlier. 60% occur in the 1st 8 weeks (when a woman has missed just 2 periods).

7. Why do women have abortions? “The reasons women give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life.”
75% state they have concerns for or responsibility to other individuals, including children. 75% say they cannot afford a child. 75% say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or ability to care of dependents. 50% say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.

8. Roe v. Wade in 1973 established that women in consultation with their physicians have a constitutionally protected right to have an abortion before viability free from government interference.

9. A super-majority (78%) of Americans feel that abortion should be legal in some circumstances. 50% “legal only under certain circumstances” and 28% “legal under any circumstances.”

10. Research shows that women who choose abortion and get an abortion are less likely to be under the poverty line than those who want an abortion and “turned away.”

11. Most women getting abortions are already mothers. About 60% of the women that get abortions have already given birth to 1 child and 30% have 2 or more children.

12. No racial nor ethnic group makes up the majority of women choosing abortions. 36% are white, 30% are black, 25% are Hispanic, and 9% are of other race.

13. 50% of the women getting abortion are 25 years of age or OLDER.

14. Abortion is a common procedure. At 2008 abortions rates, 1 in 10 women will have an abortion by age 20, 1 in 4 women by age 30 and 3 in 10 by age 45. (Abortion rates have gone down by ~ 17% since 2008)

15. Access to birth control results in use of birth control, which results in fewer unplanned pregnancies, which results in fewer abortions. Birth control = fewer abortions. (I thought this was common ground with the anti-abortion people. Unfortunately, it is NOT common ground. The Family Research Council in its “truth about abortion” pamphlet says birth control leads to more sex, leads to more abortion.)

If you agree that lies about abortion are a public health hazard and that the City of SF should use the funds from the banners to launch a public health campaign about the Truth About Abortion, please join other concerned citizens, health professionals, parents of impressionable young adults, young adults and more in signing this petition. Please also share on FB/twitter/email lists.

Thank you for TrustingWomen with their personal health decisions.

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