There are a lot of abortion myths. How can you speak intelligently with your pro-choice friends? Learn the truth about Pro-lifers, ectopic pregnancies, bodily autonomy and more.
Abortion touches the middle of the Venn diagram of hot topics: sex, religion, and politics. It’s tough to talk about. When talking about abortion myths, show compassion. Remember you may be talking to someone who has had an abortion. Data from 2014 estimated that 1 in 4 women will have an abortion (1).
Want to talk about abortion in a medically accurate way without sounding like a pretentious textbook? (Brush up on your knowledge of abortion procedures here [link] )
[Download these abortion myths as a printable PDF]
Why might people think this abortion myth?
Pro-lifers talk about the lives of unborn babies a lot. (To pro-life people this makes sense. Science shows us the baby has its own DNA, heartbeat, and fingerprints, etc. If you can argue the baby is alive, you can argue that killing the baby is unethical.) But, women facing an unplanned pregnancy hearing these messages may think “You don’t care about me. You only talk about babies. You don’t know my difficult circumstances.”
PRCs help women before AND after birth.
Pro-life people demonstrate their care for women by volunteering and donating to pregnancy resource centers. PRCs outnumber abortion facilities 3 to 1 (Live Action (2).) This is impressive, considering most PRCs are 501c3 charities and don’t receive any government funding.
Specific ways PRCs help
Heartbeat International has provided nearly 250,000 free ultrasounds for pregnant women and served 1.5 million clients each year (3).
In the last 12 months, Pregnancy Support Center has provided
- 10,836 diapers
- 212 pack of wipes
- 76 baby outfits
- 115 other items ranging from cribs and mattresses to towels, toys, and blankets.
- 65 pregnancy tests
- 62 ultrasounds
- 298 parenting/life skills classes
Stats on [State] and Global Pregnancy Centers
According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, New York pregnancy centers have provided over $3.6 million in services and materials, serving over 26,163 people. This estimate is considered low (State impact report, 2019).
- 7,615 Free pregnancy tests
- 4,568 free ultrasounds performed by medical staff
- 1,526 STI tests
- 14,051 free consultations with new clients
- 12,112 students attended free sexual risk avoidance presentations
- 5,101 clients received free parenting education
- 631 clients received free after-abortion support
- 79,737 free baby items given
- 34,220 packs of diapers
- 9,456 packs of wipes
- 35,459 baby outfits
- 254 car seats
- 349 strollers
In 2019, PRCs served nearly 2 million people, saving communities nearly $270 million according to a Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) study (4). Services included almost $27 million worth of material assistance, per CLI (5).
Stats on Pro-lifers and adoption
It’s hard to find stats on Pro-lifers and adoption, but we have stats on Christians and adoption. Since many practicing Christians are pro-life, the Christian adoption rate is a proxy for the pro-life adoption rate. 2% of US adults have adopted children and over twice as many (5%) of Christians have adopted children (6).
This abortion myth is easily refuted.
Medically, treating ectopic pregnancies is not abortion.
The CDC definition of abortion is ending a pregnancy that’s in the uterus (7). Ectopic pregnancies are outside the uterus.
Treating an ectopic pregnancy involves the medication methotrexate or laparoscopic surgery. The abortion pill uses different drugs (mifepristone and misoprostol) and does not treat ectopic pregnancy, according to the FDA (12).
Morally, treating ectopic pregnancies is not abortion.
Motives matter. Treating an ectopic pregnancy to save the life of the mother is moral. Over 90% of tubal ectopic pregnancies are embryos who have already died. (8). Ectopic pregnancies are unviable (unable to grow and survive.)
In contrast, abortion targets a live, healthy baby with the intention of destroying that baby. Elective abortion is not necessary for the health of the mother.
Planned Parenthood Says
As recently as 7/19/22, Planned Parenthood's website said, “Treating an ectopic pregnancy isn’t the same thing as getting an abortion.” (per the Wayback machine (9).) Then Planned Parenthood watered down its wording 7/21/22. Now their site says “The medical procedures for terminating a pregnancy in the uterus are usually different from the medical procedures for terminating an ectopic pregnancy.” (10). [Thanks to Live Action for pointing this out on Instagram (11).]
Legally, treating ectopic pregnancies is not abortion.
States that limit abortion have to legally define abortion. Each state’s definition excludes treatments for ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages. They have exceptions for instances where the mother’s life is in danger. Guttmacher charts existing state laws restricting abortion. They all provide exceptions to protect the life of the mother (13). [Review state laws here (14).] No one wants women to die. Removing a deceased baby (treating miscarriage) is not the same as aborting a healthy baby.
Thankfully, life-threatening complications are rare.
General complications (including ones that are not life-threatening) affect 8% of all pregnancies (16).
Pro-Choice people like to bring up fringe arguments where abortion might be medically necessary. This fearmongering is a distraction from all the elective abortions that are NOT medically necessary.
Compassionate, non-violent care includes early delivery or early C-section (17).
This saves the mom and gives the baby a chance to live. True, the baby may still die from premature delivery. Babies are viable (or able to survive outside the womb) at 22 weeks, and odds of survival are better at 26 weeks (18). Which is better? Intentionally trying to save the baby or intentionally terminating him or her? Humane treatment allows the baby to pass away peacefully instead of being ripped apart.
In a true emergency, a c-section can be done within the hour. It is faster than D&E or D&X which requires waiting overnight (or days) for the woman’s cervix to dilate.
For further reading: Fact Sheet: Medical Indications for Separating a Mother and Her Unborn Child - Charlotte Lozier Institute (19).
“Using their logic,” OB-GYN and Senator Roger Marshall asks, “should we abort every baby? Should we stop all childbearing? Presenting abortion as the ‘life-saving solution’ denies the modern medical science that can keep both mother and baby safe.” (20)
Abortion is never safe for the baby.
In order to answer that question, we need accurate data on abortion.
There’s one study everyone likes to cite by Raymond and Grimes, but it has data problems. People can’t cite other studies because no other researchers can replicate this claim.
The CDC does not require states to report abortion data (7).
Specifically, Maryland, California, New Hampshire, Washington DC, and New York City don’t report their abortion data (21). Given the high population and permissive abortion laws in California, that’s a huge gap in data. The CDC requires pregnancy mortality reporting from all 50 states and DC (22). Comparing pregnancy data with spotty abortion data is comparing apples and oranges (21). The CDC admits they might overestimate pregnancy-related deaths (22).
What is the maternal mortality rate? In 2020, the CDC reported 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births or 0.0238% (23). Meanwhile, 3% of abortions in Western nations are unsafe, and global abortion mortality is 13% (24).
Further reading: Equal Rights Institute has a great article about data problems (21).
Pro-lifers often misunderstand “My body, my choice.” (26). They think that pro-choice people deny that a baby is a separate body. (Some people do, but many take a different approach.)
Youtube Short: Board Certified OBGYN MDJ expressing this pro-choice view https://www.youtube.com/shorts/SfMdYmQwv2k (27).
Ask clarifying questions to see what abortion myth the person you’re talking believes.
“Do you mean that the embryo’s body is literally just part of the mother’s body, like a kidney or another organ? Or do you mean that because the embryo is in her body she has the right to kill it?”
Again, the thought is since the baby is INSIDE the woman’s body, and she can do whatever she wants with her body, she can abort. This is the Bodily Autonomy argument, aka the violinist argument, etc. If you’re not familiar with the violinist argument, read about it (28).
Pro-lifers cannot address this argument by focusing on the baby’s personhood.
Bodily autonomy is important and complex. You'll have to do your homework. Take 18 minutes and read Autumn in the Sovereign Zone: Why “it’s my body, I can do what I want” won’t do from the Equal Rights Institute (29).
Another helpful metaphor talks about being the de facto guardian of a child. In the movie Up, Carl the elderly man attaches balloons to his house and flies away. He’s shocked when Russel knocks on his door, asking to come in rather than fall to his death. No one else can help Russel, so Carl reluctantly agrees to let him in. Should Carl have asserted his house autonomy and refused to help Russel? Then an innocent child would die. A pregnant woman is the de facto guardian of her unborn child.
(The Up metaphor is from Timothy Brahm)
The vast majority of women who were denied abortion raise and love their children.
In the Turnaway Study, 75% of women denied abortion gave birth (the rest either got abortions somewhere else or miscarried.)
Of the women who gave birth, 90% raised their children themselves (10% placed for adoption) (30).
Adoption is not the same as foster care.
Foster care is temporary with the goal of reunification with the child’s biological family (31). Foster kids are almost never eligible for adoption. They are not unwanted.
There are more people waiting to adopt than there are available kids.
There are approximately 36 couples waiting to adopt for every 1 child placed for adoption (32). Adoptees are not unwanted.
- Pro-choice people like to claim abortion restrictions won’t decrease abortions. Then they say there will be a large increase in unwanted children. They’re contradicting themselves. So which is it? Read the explanation here (30).
- Abortion restrictions correlate with lower pregnancy rates. (See research here (33).)
Pro-lifers support other causes, too.
Pro-lifers are the ones who foster, adopt, care for the homeless and support other agencies to make our world a better place.
Religious people donate to charities more than any other group.
As philanthropyroundtable.org puts it “In study after study, religious practice is the behavioral variable with the strongest and most consistent association with generous giving.” (34).
Many pro-life organizations address homelessness
- Would you support banning abortion except in the cases of rape/incest?
(If the person says “no, all abortion should be legal,” then it’s not really about the fringe cases.)
Just 1% of women get abortions because they were raped (38).
Less than 0.5% do so because of incest, according to the Guttmacher Institute (38).
- Rape is violence against women, and adding the violence of abortion will not help victims, Feminists For Life argue (39).
Saying babies conceived in rape should be aborted is insulting to people who were conceived in rape. Ryan Bromberger is one such child conceived in rape but adopted in love. (Hear his story in his own words in a 4 minute video.)
Abortion in the case of rape is the only instance where someone other than the perpetrator is punished for the crime.
Abortion Myth Sources