Myths and facts about abortion
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There are many myths circulating in our society about the effect of abortion on women’s emotional and physical health. Here are facts to dispel some common myths:
Fact: Abortions are very safe when performed by qualified practitioners. Reputable research confirms that continuing a pregnancy and going through childbirth has greater risk to a woman's health than having a first trimester abortion.
Fact: Safe, legal abortion performed by qualified practitioners is very rarely associated with any future risk to fertility.
Most women return to their pre-pregnancy fertility immediately following the abortion procedure. A small number of women have a delay in the return of normal menstrual cycles.
We recommend the use of contraception soon after the abortion procedure.
For information about contraception, see SHine SA
Fact: Abortion is safe and used by women when the use of contraception fails or other factors that make using contraception difficult. The majority of women experiencing unplanned pregnancy are using some form of contraception, yet we know that:
Fact: Unplanned pregnancy does cause emotional distress for some women, however research shows that for most women abortion causes no long lasting psychological consequences. Women who make their own clear decision about abortion generally find it a health enhancing experience. Having an abortion is not inherently traumatic; however, every step of the process to accessing abortion services can be made traumatic by judgemental or undermining treatment by others.
Studies do highlight risk factors, which can increase the likelihood of a woman experiencing longer lasting emotional distress:
A consistent opinion has emerged within the medical profession that the psychological effects of abortion are benign or positive and that serious adverse effects are rare. No reputable articles conclude there is any evidence to support the term nor condition of ʻPost Abortion Syndrome'.
Fact: There is no one clear position or understanding about abortion and religion. Many religions and religious groups do not support a woman's right to be in control of her body (are opposed to contraception and abortion), however a number do support a woman's right to make decisions about her body including the use of contraception and abortion.
Fact: This view claims that since there are so few children available for adoption then women with unwanted pregnancies should be encouraged to relinquish their offspring for adoption. For many women the choice to have an abortion is because they do not want to be pregnant, or continue to be pregnant, or to give birth or to relinquish a child. In an Australian study, "We Women Decide", women who had relinquished a baby for adoption spoke of the pain and ongoing feelings about this decision and this is in contrast to having no regret following an abortion.
Fact: Women of all ages in their fertile years approximately 12 years to 50+ years of age have decided to have abortions throughout the centuries for many different and similar reasons. The belief that only irresponsible women choose abortion suggests that ʻrealʼ women are selfless and nurturing above all other costs and a woman who chooses abortion is wilful, careless, promiscuous and selfish in not accepting their 'biological destiny'. The consistent finding of the many studies about women’s experience of abortion suggests that women of all ages, with or without children, in all occupations, religions, education levels, contraceptive practices, and marital status and seek abortions.
Fact: Abortion does not increase the chances of being diagnosed with breast cancer.