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Abortion Facts

Is abortion common?
Abortions are one of the most common medical procedures in Canada. A person may choose to have an abortion for a variety of reasons. Fifty-two percent of all abortions are had by individuals between the ages of 20 and 29. In Canada, 30% of people who are able to become pregnant will choose to have an abortion during their lifetime. 1

Is abortion safe?
Abortions have very low complication rates. The most common complications are infections that can be treated with antibiotics. 97.7% of those who have an abortion within Canada have not experienced any complications.2

When do people have abortions?
While abortion in Canada is generally available until around 24 weeks of pregnancy, 90% of all abortions take place during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.2

Will having an abortion affect my mental health?
It is common to experience a mixture of positive and negative emotions following an abortion, however negative emotions are often offset by positive feelings of relief.3 There is no evidence that abortion leads to long-term negative mental health concerns.4 People often believe they will cope poorly following an abortion because of misinformation they have received about the physical and psychological risks of the procedure.2

What about Post-Abortion Syndrome?
Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS) is not recognized as a legitimate mental health diagnosis.3 Following an abortion, a person is no more likely to meet the criteria for depression than any other member of the general population.3 Abortion on its own does not increase a person’s risk of mental illness.5 In fact, it is more common that negative social and cultural messages that stigmatize abortion may lead to more negative psychological experiences.5,6

Will I regret my decision?
A longitudinal study that took place in the United States from 2008 to 2010 found that over a 3-year period of check-ins, 95% of those who had an abortion did not regret their decision. Participants also reported that any feelings they had about their abortion decreased over time.7

Does having an abortion increase my risk of breast cancer or infertility?
The National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society conclude that there is no scientific evidence to support that abortion raises the risk of breast cancer or any other type of cancer.8,9  There is also no scientific evidence that abortion causes infertility or any long-term risks of any future fertility-related problems.10,11,12


References

  1. Norman, W. V. (2012). Induced abortion in Canada 1974-2005: Trends over the first generation with legal access. Contraception, 85, 185–191.
  2. Sabourin, J. N., & Burnett, M. (2012). A review of therapeutic abortions and related areas of concern in Canada. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada : JOGC = Journal D’obstétrique et Gynécologie Du Canada : JOGC, 34(6), 532–42.
  3. Casey, P. R. (2010). Abortion among young women and subsequent life outcomes. Best Practice and Research: Clinical Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 24(4), 491–502.
  4. Major, B., Appelbaum, M., Beckman, L., Dutton, M. a., Russo, N., & West, C. (2008). Report of the APA task force on mental health and abortion. American Pyschological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/wpo/mental-health-abortion-report.pdf
  5. Littman, L. L., Zarcadoolas, C., & Jacobs, A. R. (2009). Introducing abortion patients to a culture of support: A pilot study. Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 12, 419–431.
  6. Norris, A., Bessett, D., Steinberg, J. R., Kavanaugh, M. L., & Silvia De Zordo, D. B. (2011). Abortion Stigma: A Reconceptualization of Constituents, Causes, and Consequences. Women’s Health Issue, 21(3), S49–S54.
  7. Rocca C.H., et al., Decision rightness and emotional responses to abortion in the United States: a longitudinal study, PLoS ONE, 2015, 10(7):e0128832, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0128832.
  8. Lazovich, D., Thompson, J. a, Mink, P. J., Sellers, T. a, & Anderson, K. E. (2009). Induced abortion and breast cancer risk. Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.) (Vol. 434).
  9. ACS — American Cancer Society. (2013, accessed 2013, March 4). Is Abortion Linked to Breast Cancer? [Online.] http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/moreinformation/is-abortion-linked-to-breast-cancer
  10. Atrash, H.K. and Hogue, C.J.R. (1990). The effect of pregnancy termination on future reproduction, Baillière’s Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 4(2):391–405.
  11. Hogue, C.J.R., Cates, W. and Tietze C. (1982). The effects of induced abortion on subsequent reproduction, Epidemiologic Reviews, 4(1):66–94.
  12. Hogue, C.J. et al. (1999). Answering questions about long-term outcomes, in: Paul M et al., eds., A Clinician’s Guide to Medical and Surgical Abortion, New York: Churchill Livingstone, pp. 217–227.

 

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