Four myths about abortion and women’s health


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In the United States, there is great fear of seeing a conservative Supreme Court question the right to abortion that we thought had been acquired since the 1970s. Meanwhile in Quebec, although anti-abortion movements are more rarely heard, they are present. Some demonstrated in Sherbrooke and Quebec City last fall. Additionally, organizations that support pregnant women are concerned about the misinformation spread across the Internet. For example, these organizations warn against sites like Pregnant and worriedwhich presents itself as a source of information on pregnancy.

Here are four of the myths often conveyed by the anti-abortion movement.

1) Is the risk of death during an abortion high? Impostor

A study that compared the risks associated with abortion on the one hand and childbirth on the other, concluded in 2012 that in the United States the mortality rate during an abortion was 0.6 deaths per 100,000 procedures. By comparison, the risk of death during childbirth was 14 times higher – a rate of 8.8 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

Analyzing 529,141 surgically performed abortions, Ontario researchers for their part estimated in 2019 that the serious complication rate in Ontario between 2003 and 2015 was 1.6 cases per 1000 procedures. The death rate was 0.05 deaths per 1000 procedures (or 5 deaths per 100,000). It should be remembered, however, that of the 28 deaths reported overall in this period, 23 had a known cause and that, in most cases, it was suicide or the consequence of an act of violence.

The researchers also noted that the risk of serious complications was lower when doctors frequently performed such operations in specialized clinics (1.4 cases out of 1000) compared to abortions performed by doctors less accustomed to this procedure (3.7 cases out of 1000). 1000).

Furthermore, according to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the use of drugs such as misoprostol and mifepristone is becoming more and more widespread around the world to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The symptoms that can then be experienced are identical to those of a spontaneous miscarriage that occurs naturally. In a 2018 abortion safety report, the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine of the United States (NAP) concludes that these drugs carry no more risks than antibiotic treatment.

2) Does abortion affect mental health more than childbirth? Impostor

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), when evaluating the effects of abortion on mental health, the diversity of lived experiences must be taken into account. Several reasons can in fact lead to unwanted pregnancy and lead a woman to consider abortion. And these reasons can also affect her psychological health.

According to the APA, a woman can experience sadness and pain after an abortion. However, the organization adds, studies with a more rigorous methodology reveal that the risk of mental health problems in women who abort during the first trimester is no greater than in those who choose to carry their pregnancy to term.

In its 2018 report, the NAP analyzed the results of seven systematic reviews on the subject. She concluded that, during unwanted pregnancies, the rate of mental health problems was the same in women who had aborted and those who had given birth.

Finally, American researchers concluded in 2017 that refusal to abort was associated with a greater risk of psychological distress than abortion. In a 2018 study conducted by some of the same researchers, they also showed that suicidal thoughts were as rare among women who had abortions as they were among those who had been denied. According to the authors, policies that seek to limit access to abortion under the pretext of protecting their psychological health are therefore unfounded.

3) Does abortion cause infertility or complications in future pregnancies? Impostor

Finnish researchers published a study of 57,000 mothers in 2016, of whom more than 5,000 had previously aborted, and noted that they were less likely to resort to fertility treatments for a future pregnancy, which means there are no ties. between abortion and infertility.

Furthermore, they note, abortion does not increase the risk of suffering from preeclampsia, hypertension, gestational diabetes, or premature rupture of membranes during the next pregnancy.

4) Does abortion increase the risk of breast cancer? Impostor

In 2004, a group of researchers specializing in the hormonal factors of breast cancer analyzed the results of 53 studies involving 83,000 women with breast cancer. They concluded that having an induced abortion did not increase the risk of developing this type of cancer. A 2014 review of scientific studies from the American Cancer Association came to the same conclusions.

In both cases, however, the researchers noted that some so-called retrospective studies, in which women with breast cancer are asked if they have ever had a miscarriage in the past, report a “statistically significant” increase in cancer risk. According to scientists, healthy women don’t always dare to admit having resorted to abortion. Conversely, women suffering from breast cancer are less reluctant to talk about it because they are looking for a reason to explain their disease. This could cause bias in this type of study. Not so, the researchers continue, with prospective studies in which women who have had abortions are followed up for several years: these studies find no association between abortion and breast cancer.

Photo credits: Lorie Shoull, 2019 / Wikipedia Commons

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