Debunking Abortion Myths with Patients
Abortion is a sensitive subject to talk about. I know, you’re shocked right? Seriously though, this can pose problems when educating patients. Yet, it is important that with the plethora of misinformation being pushed around the internet by antiabortion groups, that patients know the facts. We can start by being aware of the most common myths about abortion. Patients may not ask about these topics even if they are thinking about them. So, we can find ways to work them into our conversations with patients when we are providing counsel.
- Abortion increases your risk of breast cancer
This myth has been widely disseminated by antiabortion groups who stick to their methods of using misinformation to try and prevent abortions. They have used flawed studies and ignored the evidence that abortion does not place women at a greater risk for breast cancer development. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists debunked this myth in 2015.
- Abortion causes infertility
Of course, all medications and procedures have risks, but medical abortions and surgical abortions when performed by trained healthcare professionals are safe. Having an abortion does not affect future fertility.
- Abortions can cause problems for future pregnancies
Crisis Pregnancy Centers and other antiabortion groups love to shove inaccurate information down the throats of the general public. Some of this includes telling people that abortions can cause birth defects, miscarriages, infant death, ectopic pregnancy, low birth weight or premature birth in future pregnancies. Each of these claims have not been supported by evidence.
- Abortions cause serious long-term emotional problems
This is rare, but appears common when encountering information put out by antiabortion groups. According to Planned Parenthood, serious emotional complications post-abortion are about as common as they are after giving birth. Emotional issues after an abortion are more likely to occur when a patient has to end a pregnancy for health complications, if they are not supported in their decision, or if they have a history of mental illness. “Post abortion syndrome” is a scientific sounding term used by antiabortion groups that has not been recognized by the American Psychological Association or the American Psychiatric Association. According to the Guttmacher Institute, research has shown that women who are denied abortions when seeking them feel more regret and less relief than those who have them.
- Abortion is dangerous
Abortions are one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States and are safer than pregnancy. The truth is that both childbirth and abortions are generally safe situations barring any serious complications. Yet, this is not the message sent by antiabortion groups and even legislation in some states.
In addition to being aware of these myths, it is important that providers assess patients for misconceptions during the interview process and work with them to provide accurate education. Having posters in the office and pamphlets that provide patients with facts, as well as resources, can help them make informed decisions if abortion is a pregnancy options they are considering. Disseminating accurate information to patients regardless of whether or not they are seeking an abortion can help initiate fact based conversations outside of the clinic.