Monday 10 October 2011

Myth-Busting Monday – 40 Days For Life

You may have seen that U.S anti-abortion campaign group, ’40 Days For Life’ has set up some UK branches in Birmingham and London. They are holding 40 day vigils outside abortion clinics hoping ‘to bring an end to abortion’. EFC has a copy of a leaflet being distributed by the group entitled ‘You can stop injustice’ which is full of misinformation. So much so that had we the time, we probably could have found 40 myths in it to bust. Here’s 5 for now!

1. ‘The Long-Term Effects of Abortion’
‘Women who abort are more likely to experience future ectopic pregnancy, infertility, hysterectomy, stillbirth, miscarriage, and premature birth than women who have not had abortions’
Such physical risks listed in the booklet are either false or misrepresented. Where genuine complications are given it is without any sense of frequency or likelihood. Many of the claimed ‘risks’ such as infertility or breast cancer do not have foundation in medical fact. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ guidelines for health professionals in abortion care state:  ‘there are no proven associations between induced abortion and subsequent ectopic pregnancy, placenta praevia or infertility. Abortion may be associated with a small increase in the risk of subsequent miscarriage or preterm delivery.’

The RCOG advise that “For most women an abortion is safer than carrying a pregnancy and having a baby. All medical and surgical procedures have risks, but the earlier in pregnancy you have an abortion, the safer it is” 

2. Women who abort are not only putting their own lives and health at risk; they also endanger the lives of their current and future children. Women who abort are 144% more likely to physically abuse their children’

This claim is based on a study led by Priscilla Coleman, whose ‘bad science’ has been taken apart in rather more detail than we could manage on this blog by Ministry of Truth and Tessera

3. ‘According to scientific research, all hormonal contraceptives have the capacity to cause an abortion (the pill, patch, mini-pill, jab, vaginal ring, emergency contraception, intrauterine devices etc)’.
You heard ‘em right. ALL forms of hormonal contraception can cause an abortion. We’ve busted the myth that emergency contraception is an abortion method before and the same applies for these other methods. 

4. ‘When a couple waits until marriage to have sex, and remains faithful to each other during marriage, oxytocin and vasopressin increase the biological bond between the husband and wife’ 
In ‘The Science of Sex’ section of the booklet much reference is made to oxytocin, the so called ‘love-hormone’. This ‘science’ aside, from being incredibly heteronormative seems to suggest that the very act of marriage (Is it signing the names? Eating a many layered fruit-cake?) causes a hormonal bond between a man and a woman which acts as ‘emotional superglue’. Hmm.

5. ‘Countries with laws restricting abortion have the lowest maternal mortality rates. Ireland has laws restricting abortion and also has a maternal mortality rate of 1 death per 100,000 live births, the lowest in Europe. The UK, with abortion on demand, has 8 deaths per 100,000 live births.’
This statement about the legality of abortion versus maternal mortality rates is deliberately misleading. Only Ireland and UK are used as examples, and whilst it’s true that Ireland has a lower maternal mortality rate than the UK, and indeed that its abortion laws are more restrictive there is no evidence given for any link between these two facts. The fact that women from Ireland routinely access safe abortion in England and other countries is not mentioned. Also, of course, when you look at the list of countries for which we have maternal mortality rate figures it is clear that those with the worst records of maternal mortality (for example, the bottom three in this table, Afghanistan, Central African Republic and Malawi all have very restrictive abortion laws which allow abortion only to save a woman’s life).

We’re concerned that in the interests of pushing an anti-abortion agenda 40 Days For Life are distributing material which is littered with false statistics and myths about abortion. 


  1. What can we do to help you out?

  2. To help EFC advocate for young people's access to factual information and impartial support with pregnancy you can:

    Donate! EFC is a small charity with little access to trust funding so regular individual donations make a big difference to us:

    Find out what is being taught about abortion in your area - Tell us what your school/your child's school teaches about abortion

    Tell us when you see misinformation about abortion (such as this leaflet) and send us copies. Make a noise on Twitter, Facebook, blogs to support young people's rights to the facts!

    For more information about getting involved with EFC's work email

  3. Oh, people... you are masters of manipulation!

    Infertility research clearly shows that abortion can lead to problems for women who later wish to conceive and carry a pregnancy to full term. Some post-abortive sequelae that affect future fertility are not
    apparent until the woman attempts to conceive a child and seeks a medical explanation of her inability to do so. These
    may include pelvic inflammatory disease; Chlamydia trachomatis; uterine perforation; Asherman’s Syndrome; endometrial ossification; endometrial adhesions; and ectopic

    Maternal mortality rates are the ones most of the times used to legalize abortion. So, now accept it that Ireland has one of the lowest in the world and check the statistics how many Irish travel to England for an abortion - over 1.000 which is 0,005%
    Besides, maternal mortality rate is always used to manipulate and legalize abortion. What are the reasons for maternal mortality:
    As stated by the WHO in its 2005 World Health Report "Make Every Mother and Child Count", they are: severe bleeding/hemorrhage (25%), infections (13%), unsafe abortions (13% - and still that number can be easily challenged), eclampsia (12%), obstructed labour (8%), other direct causes (8%), and indirect causes (20%). Indirect causes such as malaria, anaemia,[6] HIV/AIDS and cardiovascular disease, complicate pregnancy or are aggravated by it.
    I dont expect you to be truthfull but please do not use science to promote your agenda (anyone reading your financial statement can easily see what it is)

  4. Anonymous, many Irish women travel to the Uk for an abortion, they also have abortions on boats between the two countries, and perform abortions on themselves. If 13% of women in the world are dying due to unsafe abortion - which they are - then that's WAY too many.

    Also, a pro-lifer accusing a pro choice organisation of having 'an agenda' is pretty amusing.

    The agenda is medicine, science and humanist.