Myth vs. Fact on Abortion and Contraception

Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) regularly misinform women who are seeking medical advice. Here are some of the most common myths spread by CPCs, and the facts that disprove them:


Myth: Contraception is dangerous.

Facts: Birth control is safe if used as directed. As with all medications, there are some risks associated with hormonal birth control. It is important to discuss potential risk factors such as smoking regularly or a family history of diabetes with your doctor.[1]

Some CPCs claim that birth control causes cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, several studies suggest that the birth control pill slightly increases the risk of breast cancer, but the risk level returns to normal after stopping contraceptive use. Additionally, birth control decreases the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers.[2] CPCs also claim that hormonal birth control causes infertility. There is no evidence that birth control causes infertility, and fertility returns soon after a woman stops using contraception.[3]

 

Myth: Hormonal birth control is ineffective.

Facts: Hormonal birth control is over 99% effective when used correctly. The rate of effectiveness for typical use may be lower. For example, less than 1 out of 100 women will become pregnant each year when taking the birth control pill as directed, but 9 out of 100 women each year will become pregnant if they are not taking the pill as directed. [4]
 

Myth: Condoms are ineffective.

Facts: Just as with hormonal birth control, the effectiveness of condoms increases if they are used properly. After abstinence, condoms are the best way to reduce your risk of contracting STDs. With perfect use, condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy, and with typical use, they are 82% effective. [5] Common concerns about condom use include that the condom will break or slip off, but these occurrences are rare if condoms are used correctly and stored properly.[6]

Counseling on condom use provided by staff member at a CPC.

Counseling on condom use provided by staff member at a CPC.

Pamphlet with false medical information about STDs and condom use given out by a CPC.

Pamphlet with false medical information about STDs and condom use given out by a CPC.

 

 

Myth: Birth control causes abortion.

Facts: There are many different types of birth control, but none of them cause abortion. There are two different categories of birth control methods: barrier methods (condoms, diaphrams, cervical cap), and hormonal methods (the pill, IUDs, the patch, the ring). Hormonal methods work primarily by preventing ovulation, while barrier methods prevent the sperm from reaching the egg. [7]

 

Myth: Emergency contraception causes abortion.

Facts: Emergency contraception (EC) is a type of hormonal birth control that works by delaying ovulation, preventing an egg from being fertilized. EC is taken after intercourse, in the event of unprotected sex or if the primary method of contraception fails. Emergency contraception is sometimes confused with mifepristone, the medication most commonly used to terminate an established pregnancy (also known as the abortion pill), but EC does not affect an established pregnancy. [8]

For more in-depth information explaining the difference between abortifacients and emergency contraception, check out this fact sheet from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

 

Myth: Most pregnancies end in miscarriage.

Facts: One delay tactic CPCs use to discourage women from seeking legitimate health care is to tell women that most pregnancies will end in a miscarriage. Miscarriages occur in about 15% of known pregnancies, and most occur because the embryo has received an abnormal number of chromosomes and cannot survive.[9] Although miscarriage is more common than many people realize, it is absolutely not advisable to delay seeking medical care if you are pregnant.


 

Myth: Abortion is dangerous.

Facts: Abortion is an incredibly safe medical procedure. Less than .05% of women experience serious complications from first-trimester abortions (which account for 89% of all abortions in the US).[10] For reference, that is lower than the rate of serious complications for colonoscopies, which stands at .07%.[11] The mortality rate for abortion is .0006%.[12]

Pamphlets with medically inaccurate information about abortion given out at a CPC in Connecticut.

Pamphlets with medically inaccurate information about abortion given out at a CPC in Connecticut.

 

 

Myth: Abortion results in "Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome.”

Facts: A number of experts have disproven the existence of any abortion-specific mental illnesses. According to the American Psychological Association, "The best scientific evidence published indicates that among adult women who have an unplanned pregnancy, the relative risk of mental health problems is no greater if they have a single elective first-trimester abortion than if they deliver that pregnancy." [13] While women who have multiple abortions are more likely to experience mental distress and/or depression, this is likely due to other factors that led to the multiple unwanted pregnancies. Much of the research used as evidence for a Post-Abortion Syndrome comes from the discredited therapist Vincent Rue, and has been thoroughly debunked.[14]

Testimonial from someone who visited a CPC in Connecticut.

Testimonial from someone who visited a CPC in Connecticut.

Myth: Abortion causes breast cancer.

Facts: This myth has been thoroughly disproven by medical professionals. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has stated that "there is no evidence that having an abortion increases the risk of getting breast cancer." [15]Additionally, according to the Guttmacher Institute, "Exhaustive reviews by panels convened by the U.S. and British governments have concluded that there is no association between abortion and breast cancer. There is also no indication that abortion is a risk factor for other cancers.” [16]

Pamphlet given out by a CPC in Connecticut with false medical information about abortion and breast cancer.

Pamphlet given out by a CPC in Connecticut with false medical information about abortion and breast cancer.

Myth: Abortion can cause infertility.

Facts: Studies have shown that neither medical nor surgical abortions increase the likelihood of infertility, [17] although multiple abortions may slightly increase the risk of low birth weight and/or premature birth.[18] According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, "most experts agree that one abortion does not affect future pregnancies." [19]

 

[1] http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq185.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20140707T1528577224

[2] http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/oral-contraceptives

[3] http://www.ippf.org/our-work/what-we-do/womens-health/infertility

[4] http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-info/birth-control/birth-control-pill

[5] http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-info/birth-control/condom

[6] http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3109405.html

[7] http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/byaudience/forwomen/freepublications/ucm313215.htm

[8] http://www.acog.org/~/media/Departments/Government%20Relations%20and%20Outreach/FactsAreImportantEC.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20140701T1803168781

[9] http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq090.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20140707T1655341560

[10] http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html#13

[11] http://www.asge.org/assets/0/71542/71544/56321364-c4d8-4742-8158-55b6bef2a568.pdf

[12] http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html

[13] http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/abortion/

[14] http://mediamatters.org/print/research/2014/06/12/media-flashback-post-abortion-syndrome-myths-in/199691

[15] http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq090.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20140707T1655341560

[16] http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html

[17] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8334095

[18] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2225607

[19] http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Induced-Abortion