Before we delve into one of our country’s most contentious topics, you should know that the objective of this article is not to persuade you in one direction or the other. We don’t care whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice. At Civics Nation, what we care about is making sure that people are basing their opinions on factual information, not lies, myths, and misconceptions. We also know that deeply held moral convictions can supersede any and all factual information when it comes to issues like abortion or pacifism.
Below is a list of some of the most commonly held beliefs regarding abortion in the U.S., along with some accompanying data regarding its veracity.
CLAIM: Planned Parenthood is an abortion mill
Abortions account for only about 3 percent of all services offered through Planned Parenthood. More than a third of its services are contraception-related, which prevents unwanted pregnancies and abortions.
CLAIM: The abortion rate in the U.S. is higher than it’s ever been
False. Data made available through The Guttmacher Institute has shown that abortion has been on the decline for years, hitting a historic low in 2011. Researchers credit the decline to better contraceptive use.
Also consider: pre-Roe v. Wade, many abortions went unreported, as these procedures were illegal at the time.
CLAIM: Women who get abortions will regret it
In 2013, the University of California San Francisco conducted a study on abortion and found that 95 percent of women who went through with the procedure ultimately felt that they made the right decision. And while many reported having mixed feelings immediately after terminating their pregnancy, researchers warn that it’s not the same thing as regret.
“Experiencing negative emotions post-abortion is different from believing that abortion was not the right decision,” the study’s authors clarified. While some women do feel regret after an abortion, data indicates that these women are the exception, not the rule.
CLAIM: Women who have abortions are missing out on the joys of motherhood
According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2008, 61 percent of women who underwent an abortion were mothers. The Guttmacher Institute found that mothers who have abortions usually do so in an effort to safeguard the children they already have, as they often cannot afford to raise another child.
Similar findings exist elsewhere. The National Abortion Federation, for example, reported that 72 percent of women seeking abortions between 2008 and 2011 were already mothers.
CLAIM: Abortions are funded through taxpayers
The Hyde Amendment, enacted in 1976, prohibits the use of government funds for abortion.
CLAIM: Fetuses experience pain during abortion
Fetuses cannot perceive pain until at least the 24th week of pregnancy, according to experts from both the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Britain’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Research from the University of California San Francisco indicates that time frame may even be longer, putting fetal pain reception at 29 or 30 weeks.
Currently, 19 states restrict abortions based on the viability of the fetus (typically between 22 and 24 weeks of gestation). In 22 states, abortion is prohibited after a certain number of weeks, with most of those states setting the limit at 22 weeks. Late-term abortions (third trimester) are illegal in many states except in certain medical scenarios. Take a look at what your state’s abortion laws are here.
Form whatever opinion you will, but remember: the facts are what they are, regardless of whether you agree with them or not.
Edit 03/14/18: Added a sentence to the end of the opening paragraph: “We also know that deeply held moral convictions can supersede any and all factual information when it comes to issues like abortion or pacifism.” Changed the placement of “only” in the third paragraph to be just before “about” instead of just after “Abortions.”