Misinformation on abortion

Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2011 Aug;16(4):233-40. doi: 10.3109/13625187.2011.570883. Epub 2011 May 11.


Objective: To find the latest and most accurate information on aspects of induced abortion.

Methods: A literature survey was carried out in which five aspects of abortion were scrutinised: risk to life, risk of breast cancer, risk to mental health, risk to future fertility, and fetal pain.

Findings: Abortion is clearly safer than childbirth. There is no evidence of an association between abortion and breast cancer. Women who have abortions are not at increased risk of mental health problems over and above women who deliver an unwanted pregnancy. There is no negative effect of abortion on a woman's subsequent fertility. It is not possible for a fetus to perceive pain before 24 weeks' gestation. Misinformation on abortion is widespread. Literature and websites are cited to demonstrate how data have been manipulated and misquoted or just ignored. Citation of non-peer reviewed articles is also common. Mandates insisting on provision of inaccurate information in some US State laws are presented. Attention is drawn to how women can be misled by Crisis Pregnancy Centres.

Conclusion: There is extensive promulgation of misinformation on abortion by those who oppose abortion. Much of this misinformation is based on distorted interpretation of the scientific literature.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / adverse effects*
  • Abortion, Induced / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Communication*
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Fetus / embryology
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Pain / embryology
  • Pregnancy
  • Propaganda*