On Earth Day around the country and around the world, hundreds of thousands of people — maybe millions — will march in support of science. Planned Parenthood stands strongly with these marchers. We know how important science is. Really. Without it, we’d have no modern medicine as we know it today, and some of us might still believe, as the ancient Greeks and Romans did, that the uterus wanders around inside the human body. In other words, things would be bad.
Rewire: Why the March for Science Matters to Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice
We must demand that laws and policies affecting people with the capacity for pregnancy be based on science—not myths, misinformation, and prejudice.
At the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, we also understand the dangers that come with misrepresenting science, flat-out lying about it, or promoting “alternative facts.” After all, extreme politicians who want to limit access to abortion, birth control, cancer screenings, and sex education have been trying to pass nonsense off as science for years.
Across the country, we’ve seen the terrible results, especially as it relates to abortion access. To clear things up, and to separate the propaganda from true scholarship, here are five “alternative facts” about abortion that demonstrate a true disregard for science, and five evidence-based facts that show just how important understanding and supporting science is.
Disinformation vs. Actual Information
#1: Abortion Safety
Disinformation: Surgical abortion is “unsafe.”
Anti-abortion websites often make blatantly false claims about the safety of abortion, including that surgical abortion is a dangerous procedure that carries health consequences with it. Meanwhile, anti-abortion politicians use these lies about safety to push targeted restrictions against abortion providers (TRAP) laws, such as medically unnecessary building requirements — which doctors say could actually harm people by decreasing access.
Fact: Abortion is really safe.
99% safe (women in the United States experience major complications less than 1% of the time). In fact, abortion is just as safe as other outpatient gynecological procedures.
#2: Medication Abortion
Disinformation: Medication abortion “doesn’t work.”
In the guise of protecting women’s health and safety, states like Texas, North Dakota, and Indiana have limited access to medication abortion, which use the abortion pill to induce abortion in early pregnancy.
Carefully conducted research (here’s that science again) shows that medication abortion has a 99% safety record just like abortion overall. Studies also show that medication abortion is up to 98% effective in ending an early pregnancy.
#3: Abortion and Breast Cancer
Disinformation: Abortion “increases women’s risk of breast cancer.”
Fact: Abortion has no impact on a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
Take it from the American Cancer Society: “[S]cientific research studies have not found a cause-and-effect relationship between abortion and breast cancer.”
#4: IUDs and Emergency Contraception
Disinformation: IUDs and emergency contraception “cause” abortion.
Here’s the science: Emergency birth control pills like Plan B and ella delay ovulation, so an egg and sperm don’t meet in the first place. Both copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs prevent pregnancy. No fertilization, no pregnancy. It’s that simple
#5: Abortion and Mental Health
Disinformation: Abortion leads to “low self-esteem,” “anxiety,” and other “mental health problems.”
Fact: Women who have abortions are no more anxious or depressed than women who get pregnant but don’t undergo the procedure — but women who face barriers to care do experience distress.
Again, you can thank science for this information. In a major study published last fall in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry, for five years, researchers followed women who had abortions as well as women who tried to get abortions but were turned away from the offices where they first sought care. The big news? The women who had abortions were not worse off. In fact the women who couldn’t get abortions experienced more distress.
See: Science can clear up a lot of disinformation. That’s why policy should be based on science and facts, not ideology, and Americans should be given full access to accurate, science-based information on health and sexuality.
You can help. On April 22, join a March for Science in your area or participate online. Then, join the Planned Parenthood Action Fund in promoting science- and fact-based policies that advance Americans’ health by signing up for our email alerts.
Just remember: The more we support science, the more science supports us.