Research facts, women deserve a choice

Columnist and Columnist

As I opened up a copy of the paper last Monday, an advertisement greeted me with a question: “Do you have an open mind?”

Generally thinking that I do, I opened the text to find some close-minded people.

While I’ll not be questioning why this “Anti-Choice propaganda” was distributed, I will be refuting some of the misinformation, false content and blatant lies “Anti-Choicers” promote as truths.

One of the primary facets this document explores is the effect an abortion has on a woman who undergoes one, suggesting devastating results on the person’s psyche.

An analysis of studies exploring the relationship between abortion and long-term mental health outcomes, completed by the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, found that well executed studies showed no difference between the mental health of women who had abortions and those who did not, whereas poorly completed studies did.

Furthermore, a 2011 report from the Guttmacher Institute states, “The highest-quality scientific evidence available has led to the conclusion that abortion does not cause mental health problems for most women.”

The study goes on to explain the most commonly reported feeling after an abortion is “relief” and that “evidence [suggests] that stigma around abortion, rather than the abortion itself, can have negative mental health consequences.”

Therefore, I think it’s fair to say documents such as the one distributed by the Human Life Alliance are based off of poorly conducted studies and have a greater negative effect upon a woman’s mental health than an actual abortion would.

The Anti-Choice manuscripts also declare abortions are dangerous to the physical health of the mother, yet a 2012 study in The Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology finds that the risk of death in natural childbirth is 14 times higher than with an abortion.

The piece makes a horrifically incorrect analysis of birth control, propagating that it can cause abortions, but science tells us one of the most effective ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies and, by extension, abortions are contraceptives.

A study at Washington University in St. Louis found that when contraceptives are provided, rates of unintended pregnancies drop dramatically, effectively preventing one abortion for every 79 to 137 women. These findings are being described as “an amazing improvement” by the President of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

In addition to these findings, a New York Times article reports that emergency contraception is not abortifacient.

The Times states, “studies have not established that emergency contraceptive pills prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the womb. The article explains that suggesting pills like Plan-B or Ella (both falsely labeled in the ad) are abortifacient “is probably rooted in outdated or incorrect scientific guesses about how the pills work.”

The advertisement says a lot about the type of woman who has an abortion, specifically drawing a conspiracy theory about the systematic ethnocide of marginalized women at the hands of eugenicist doctors. As laughable as that notion is, apparently it is necessary to disprove.

The conclusion of a 2008 study regarding the characteristics of abortion patients in the United States carried out by the Guttmacher Institute found, “…increased restrictions on abortion services would disproportionately affect poor and low-income women, black and Hispanic women, and young adults,” and suggests, “ … increasing access to a broad array of reproductive health services, including abortion. Groups overrepresented among abortion patients also have above-average rates of contraceptive failure and unintended birth. Increased public funding to expand access to contraceptive services…could help reduce levels of unintended pregnancy and improve the lives of many women.”

Regardless of your views on this issue, I think it’s easy to see that women are not incubators to be expected to carry to term and dedicate their lives to a child of an unintended pregnancy. bell hooks explains, “If women do not have the right to choose what happens to [their] bodies [they] risk relinquishing rights in all other areas of [their] lives.”

Propaganda like this that is rooted in extremist ideals intending to impose a very narrow view onto women controlling their bodies and lives. Using pseudo-science and cognitive dissonance the Pro-Life/Anti-Choice movement backs up their claims with confirmation bias.

A quick overview of the science tells us they’re wrong.

Morality informs us a woman’s body is her own; women have the right to choose.

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