Abortion Mythbusting

We’re going to send a mythbusting tweet on abortion every day for the next few weeks, and we’ll keep updating this page with the new tweets, along with references and links to additional information.

Abortion Fact #1

Roughly one in three UK women will have an abortion during her lifetime.

A banner ad showing three women, one of whom is holding a baby. The text reads: What do you call a woman who's had an abortion? Mother daughter sister friend. No more names.

Sources:

The 1 in 3 figure actually comes from a US study by the Guttmacher Institute. Here in the UK, according to Department of Health statistics (PDF), the age-adjusted rate of abortions per year (not per lifetime) for women aged 15-44 in 2011 was 1.75%.

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Abortion Fact #2

Legal abortion is one of the safest surgical procedures there is, and carries less risk than childbirth.

It’s important to note that this is only true in the case of legal abortions performed by medical professionals. Globally it is estimated that approximately 20 million unsafe abortions are performed annually, with 97% taking place in developing countries. Unsafe abortion is believed to result in approximately 68,000 deaths and millions of injuries annually.

Sources:

Wikipedia: Abortion

Grimes, D. A.; Benson, J.; Singh, S.; Romero, M.; Ganatra, B.; Okonofua, F. E.; Shah, I. H. (2006). “Unsafe abortion: The preventable pandemic” (PDF). The Lancet 368 (9550): 1908–1919. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)69481-6. PMID 17126724.

NHS: Abortion Risks

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Abortion Fact #3

Women can need an abortion at any point in their reproductive lives. In 2010 9% of abortion were for girls under 18; 41% ages 18-24; 36% ages 25-34, and 14% age 35 and up.

Sources:

Department of Health: Abortion Statistics, England and Wales: 2010 (PDF)

Found via Education for Choice’s abortion facts.

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Abortion Fact #4

Abortion is extremely unlikely to cause infertility, and women who have abortions can go on to have children later in life.

The exception to this would be in the case that a woman had an infection after receiving an abortion, and did not get the infection treated: in this scenario it would be possible for the infection to have an effect on future fertility. However this would be an extremely rare situation, and abortion normally does not cause infertility.

There are no proven associations between induced abortion and subsequent ectopic pregnancy, placenta praevia or infertility. Women with a previous induced abortion appear to be at an increased risk of infertility in countries where abortion is illegal but not in those where abortion is legal. Published studies strongly suggest that infertility is not a consequence of uncomplicated induced abortion.

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Sources:

NHS: Can having an abortion affect my fertility?

Family Planning Association (FPA): Abortion your questions answered

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists: Induced termination of pregnancy and future reproductive outcomes – current evidence

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