Abortion Myths vs Facts: Finding your own path
Have you ever looked up abortion on the internet? It is indeed a minefield! While the web can be a great resource for finding information from the comfort of your home, it can also throw up lots of pretty scary and confusing stuff. In the many years of working in the sector of unplanned pregnancy counselling, I have talked to 100s of women who have sought out information online, only to end up more afraid and confounded by their options. Will an abortion cause breast cancer? Will I regret my decision and end up depressed? Will I be able to have children in the future? Unfortunately, there is much misinformation out there and these questions have been raised in response to a lot of the myths surrounding accessing an abortion. Much of the misinformation is designed to cause women to doubt their decision making, and to scare them away from having an abortion because the authors have strong religious or moral objections to abortion. The intention is not to support a woman to make the best decision for herself and her family, but to sway her into continuing a pregnancy no matter how it impacts on her.
So let's examine some of these myths drawing on the best available evidence:
Will an abortion cause breast cancer? According to the World Health Organisation, and a host of anti-cancer organisations, there is no associated risk with having an abortion and developing breast cancer.
Will I regret my decision and suffer depression? No doubt the decision to end a pregnancy can sometimes be accompanied by sadness and a sense of loss for some women, but that does not mean it is the wrong decision, or that you will suffer long term negative mental health impacts. In fact, the consensus from reputable sources such as the American Psychological Association and the Royal Australian College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians (RANZCOG) state that there is no evidence for long term negative mental health consequences. It is important to state however that there may be risk factors for women which can increase the chances of negative psychological consequences. These include where a woman has been coerced into her decision, where she has limited supports, and/or where there is an existing severe diagnosed mental health condition, and where they have a profound moral or religious objection to abortion. Women are more likely to cope with a decision to have an abortion where they have made it based on their own needs, wants and values and have access to good quality support and information.
Will having an abortion damage my future fertility?
Abortions in Australia are performed under strict guidelines making most abortions safer than in fact continuing a pregnancy to term. It is one of the most common medical procedures performed in Australia, and one of the safest, particularly in the first trimester (up to 12 weeks). All medical procedures carry with them associated risks, but for abortion these are rare (approx 3 % complication rate) with major complications being even more rare. See more on risks here: https://www.mariestopes.org.au/your-choices/surgical-abortion-vs-medical-abortion/
The most important thing to remember is that you are the right person to make a decision about what's best for you. Good quality information will support this. Myths and untruths will only make what can already be a difficult decision harder. If you are struggling with any aspect of the decision, our counsellors can help you to explore this in line with your unique circumstances and values. It's the least you deserve.