7 Persistent Claims About Abortion, Verified : NPR

A line of pro-life protesters watch as pro-choice protesters chant in front of an unscalable fence around the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on Thursday.

Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images


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Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images


A line of pro-life protesters watch as pro-choice protesters chant in front of an unscalable fence around the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on Thursday.

Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

From the Supreme Court of 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision ruled that women have a constitutional right to terminate their pregnancies, advocates and opponents of abortion rights have worked to own the conversation on the subject.

In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 629,898 legal induced abortions were reported in the United States.

Persistent claims circulate about abortion, including its safety, who gets an abortion, and even who supports or opposes abortion access.

Seven popular claims about abortion are verified below.

According to Pew Research Center polling, 39% of Americans want abortion to be illegal in all or most cases.

But an even larger fraction, about 6 in 10 Americans, think abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Today’s abortion rates are lower than they were in 1973 and are now less than half what they were at their peak in the early 1980s, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization that supports the right to abortion.

In 2017, pregnancy rates for women age 24 and younger hit their lowest levels on record, reflecting a long-term decline in pregnancy rates among women age 24 and younger.

Overall, in 2017, pregnancy rates for women of reproductive age hit their lowest levels on record, with 87 pregnancies per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

The annual number of deaths related to legal induced abortion has fluctuated from year to year since 1973, according to the CDC.

An analysis of data from 2013 to 2018 showed that the national case fatality rate for legal induced abortion was 0.41 deaths per 100,000 legal induced abortions, less than in the previous five years.

The World Health Organization said that people who obtain unsafe abortions are at increased risk of death. Annually, 4.7% to 13.2% “of maternal deaths can be attributed to unsafe abortion,” the WHO said. In the developing regions of the world, there are 220 deaths for every 100,000 unsafe abortions.

Trans and non-binary people have also undergone abortions.

The Guttmacher Institute estimates that in 2017, between 462 and 530 transgender or non-binary people in the US had abortions. That same year, the CDC said, a total of 609,095 abortions were performed in the country.

The Abortion Out Loud campaign has collected stories from thousands of people who have had an abortion. It includes stories from trans and non-binary people who have had an abortion, like Jae, who spoke about her experience.

“Most abortions in 2019 took place early in pregnancy,” according to the CDC. Nearly 93% of abortions were performed at less than 13 weeks’ gestation.

Abortion pills, which can generally be used up to 10 weeks of pregnancy, accounted for 54% of abortions in 2020. These pills were the primary choice in the US for the first time since the Food and Drug Administration approved the abortion medication mifepristone. than 20 years ago.

State legislatures have been moving to adopt 20-week abortion bans, with abortion opponents claiming fetuses can feel pain at that time. Roughly a third of states have implemented a ban on abortion around 20 weeks.

But this contradicts widely accepted medical research from 2005. This study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Associationconcluded that a fetus is not capable of feeling pain until 29 or 30 weeks.

The researchers wrote that fetal awareness of pain requires “functional thalamocortical connections.” Those thalamocortical fibers begin to appear between 23 and 30 weeks of gestational age, but the ability to perceive pain comes later.

The argument against abortion has often been based on religion.

The data shows that most people who have abortions have some form of religious affiliation, according to the most recent data from the Guttmacher Institute, from 2014.

The Pew Research Center also shows that attitudes about whether abortion should be legal vary among evangelical Protestants, traditional Protestants, and Catholics.

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