Ireland is ‘abortion free’ – FALSE

Ireland has a typical rate for abortion, it is just that many Irish women (over 150,000 since 1980), have had to travel abroad to access them legally. Not only that, but legal abortions (although very rare), were happening in Ireland before the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013. In cases such as ectopic pregnancy or in some severe cases of pre-eclampsia, an abortion can be carried out to preserve the life of the woman. This is an example of how pregnancy can put women at risk and why abortions can sometimes be necessary to save a woman’s life.

In addition to this, women are increasingly buying abortifacients such as Misoprostol online and taking them here in this country. In 2009 alone, 1,216 illegal packets of abortion inducing drugs were seized by Irish Customs. Although medical abortions are very safe it is far from ideal that women are taking them without medical supervision and often in secret due to the illegality of abortions. Another concern is that although there are reputable sources of these drugs such as womenonweb.org, there are reports of other sites that are untrustworthy, sending out questionable medication and advice, putting these women at risk. This risk can be reduced if abortion was legalised and accessible to all who need one.

 

Abortions are illegal in Ireland because Ireland is a ‘pro-life’ country – FALSE

Poll after poll shows a confident majority in favour of introducing legal abortion to Ireland in cases of rape, incest, fatal foetal abnormalities but also when there is a risk to health[1] (as opposed to only a risk to life) – none of which the recent Act addressed – all of which the United Nations has recently urged us to review.

Irish people have never actually been given the opportunity to vote to relax or remove our ban on abortion. The referendums since 1983 have only been to strengthen it, such as removing suicide as a risk to life and therefore grounds for a legal abortion (which Irish people voted against doing). Ireland can no longer refuse a referendum on allowing abortion and still try and claim that our ban is there because of the ‘will of the people’.

 

Abortions are dangerous – FALSE

Legal abortions, both medical and surgical are actually safer than giving birth. A study (Obstetrics and Gynecology, February 2012) of maternal mortality in abortions vs pregnancy related mortality per live births in the U.S found that the risk of death from pregnancy and childbirth was 14 times higher than that of abortion. It is important to remember that this is regarding legal abortions only. Worldwide, over 21 million women every year are forced to undergo illegal and often unsafe abortions. Each year 47,000 of these women die. When legal abortions are so safe, it is vital that illegal and unsafe procedures are eradicated. The first step in this is to decriminalise abortion.

 

Abortions will affect your fertility – FALSE

Having an abortion does not typically affect future fertility.

There is a small risk however, (as with any medical procedure) that complications can occur. Examples of this are infection, ‘nicking’ the uterus which can occur during a dilation and curettage (the same treatment for spontaneous abortion [miscarriage]), or a weakening of the cervix (this can also occur in women who have not had an abortion).

Thankfully, however, complications in legal abortions happen very rarely, The NHS statistics show that damage to the cervix occurs in less than ten out of every thousand abortions with damage to the uterus occurring in less than four in every thousand surgical procedures and less than one in every thousand medical abortions. When these rare complications do occur, they can be treated to prevent a risk to fertility such as the use of anti-biotics or removal of scar tissue. The vast majority of procedures occur without complications and without the need for further treatment.

 

Having an abortion will make you an abusive parent of any children you have in the future – FALSE

This is another myth. To date there is no evidence to prove this.

 

Ireland is the safest place to have a baby – FALSE

Anti-abortion advocates have frequently referred to flawed data to claim that:

a) Ireland is the safest place to have a baby and

b) it is so ‘safe’ because of a ban on abortions.

Firstly, making a direct link between maternal mortality rates and abortion is redundant. Ireland, like many western European countries has a low maternal mortality rate at 8 per 100,000. However, Sweden’s rate, with legalised abortion, is only half that, at 4 per 100,000, – thus dispelling the myths that Ireland is the safest place to have a baby and that our ban on abortion had anything to do with it.

In addition to this, banning abortions increases unsafe, illegal abortions and therefore a rise in maternal mortality. The reason Ireland has a relatively low rate, in line with other E.U countries, is because we have the United Kingdom nearby which provides women in Ireland (who are able to travel and can afford the procedure) with safe abortions.

Abortion causes ‘post abortion disorder/stress/syndrome’ – FALSE

Different anti-choice groups have given various names to something that does not in fact exist and has no entry in the DSM (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). This is an attempt to scare women into continuing with unwanted pregnancies. There are some women who have suffered mental ill health following an abortion, however, a more likely indicator is not abortion, but a previous history of mental illness.

Women regret their abortions – FALSE

The vast majority of women do not regret their abortions. The Irish Contraception and Crisis Pregnancy Study 2010 found that 87% of respondents said it was the ‘right outcome’ for them. There have been cases however, where women have been coerced into having an abortion, or have undergone the procedure without their informed consent and this can understandably be a cause of anxiety. Having an abortion is a personal decision and one that can only and should only be freely made by the woman in possession of all the facts.

Having an abortion will increase a woman’s chance of getting cancer – FALSE

There is no link with abortions and cancer (Obstetrics and Gynecology, June 2009). This is another myth propagated by people who want to prevent any abortions from taking place. Study after study has found that having an abortion does not increase a woman’s risk of developing any type of cancer.


[1] Ipsos MRBI poll, The Irish Times, February 11th 2013.