No matter which side of the argument you fall on; abortion remains a hotly debated issue that often involves intense emotion, discomfort and (sometimes deliberate) misinformation. Here in the U.S.; after a recently leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that could strike down abortion access, the topic of reproductive rights is front and centre.
If you want to engage in conversation with someone about the importance of protecting abortion access and the right to choose; you’ll likely come across several key misconceptions that you may want to address …
Using protection stops the need for abortion; just be more careful …
While it’s encouraging that a range of contraception methods and devices have very high levels of efficacy (especially implants, vasectomies and hormone-releasing IUDs); no protection is considered 100% effective. Incorrect/inconsistent use of any method (including male/female condoms, pills, diaphragms, withdrawal, etc) can result in unintended pregnancy (accidents do happen; we all know this). It’s equally significant to note that not every method of contraception will be suitable (or available) for everyone looking to use them.
In the United States, any employer offering health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), for example, can cite religious or moral reasoning to refuse employee contraceptive coverage. Between 70,000 and 126,000 people use the ACA to access free reproductive care (in many instances because of low income). Since the news broke that Roe v. Wade is likely to be repealed in the Summer; there’s growing momentum among some Republican-led states to look into banning contraceptives too.
The fact that almost every aspect of reproductive care is under threat shows that this isn’t about stopping abortions from happening; if it was, education and free/affordable access to all preventative methods would be made comprehensively and equitably more available.
Further Reading: Half of States Set to Ban Abortion Have No Sex Ed Requirements (The 74)
Getting abortions goes against God …
This extremely narrow outlook ignores the fact that there are a plethora of multi-denominational religions that hold a diverse range of positions about abortions within the United States. Forcing adherence to one specific, narrow set of beliefs flies in the face of religious freedom, as guaranteed by the First Amendment; which also includes the protected right to not practice any religion at all and forbids Congress from promoting one religion over another. Pushing religious views onto others, especially by way of legislation is unconstitutional and borders on indoctrination.
People getting abortions need to find God …
According to data collected by the Guttmacher Institute, 62% of people who have had an abortion in the U.S. are religiously affiliated; including Catholics, mainline Protestants and evangelical Protestants (among others). People from all faiths, spiritualities and belief systems access abortion services because it’s a personal choice that should remain protected.
Abortions are unsafe and lead to reproductive problems later on …
Legalized abortion is actually safer than childbirth in the United States. In fact, this country has the highest maternal mortality rates of any developed country; in addition, it’s the only industrialized nation in the world where this trend is rising. A briefing by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), for example, found that mortality rates for legal abortion is around 0.7 deaths for every 100,000 procedures; whereas rates for childbirth are about nine deaths for every 100,000 deliveries. The AAAS also found that there were no long-term or increased future risks of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, congenital defects, premature births or infertility.
Having an abortion through a safe, sanitary, highly trained health-care provider is one of the safest medical procedures available.
Bans stop all abortions …
Significant worldwide research carried out in 2020 found that abortion rates were roughly the same in countries where it’s legal as those where it isn’t. The data (and history) clearly show that restricting or preventing access does not reduce the need or number of abortions. Many will have no choice but to seek out potentially unsafe medications and procedures that place their health and lives at risk; particularly those who cannot comfortably afford travel to places/facilities where abortions are still available.
People having abortions are [insert inaccurate/misleading information] …
Here are some quick facts about who is having abortions in the United States that may help you understand the issue further (all data comes from the Guttmacher Institute unless otherwise stated):
- 92.7% have abortions at or before 13 weeks gestation (CDC)
- 75% were from low income families with many at/below the federal poverty level
- 59% already had children; many citing the financial strain on their ability to care for their current children as reason for terminating a pregnancy
- 61% were aged between 20 and 29 years old
- 51% were using a contraceptive method in the month they became pregnant
- 95% of participants in a Social Science & Medicine study found that patients didn’t regret getting an abortion; with most feeling a sense of relief
Every person in this country deserves having equality and control over their personal and private reproductive decisions. Implementing legislation that removes self-determination from anyone who can fall pregnant (including queer women, transgender men and nonbinary people) effectively robs vast sections of society of their dignity.
Reproductive freedom is critical to a whole range of issues. If we can’t take charge of this most personal aspect of our lives, we can’t take care of anything. It should not be seen as a privilege or as a benefit, but a fundamental human right. | Faye Wattleton
Are you having conversations about reproductive rights? What information do you want to share?
The Right to an Abortion Is Supported by the Text and History of the Constitution – Constitutional Accountability Center