WOMEN

How One Big Myth About Abortion Is Hurting Everyone

It's time Americans learned the facts about abortion.

Abortion has emerged as a key issue this election season, but how informed are most Americans about the actual procedure? As Vox's Liz Plank points out, not very.

As part of Vox's "2016ish" series, Plank points out how much of the anti-abortion rhetoric today focuses on how "dangerous" abortion supposedly is. This fear-mongering leads many people to believe the procedure is extremely risky, when in fact studies confirm that legal abortions are safer than common medical procedures such as wisdom tooth extraction and even childbirth. However, a February Vox poll found that just 19 percent of people knew that abortion is safer than giving birth. 

It's this widespread ignorance that has allowed anti-abortion legislation like Texas law HB-2 to pass. HB-2 requires abortion clinics to adhere to standards of ambulatory surgical centers, which can cost clinics millions of dollars in renovations. According to The New York Times, half of Texas' abortion clinics have closed since 2013 because of the law. But as the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists pointed out when HB-2 was proposed, there is absolutely no reason -- except to prevent clinics from functioning -- to enforce these sort of requirements.

Plank went to the Supreme Court during the first day of oral arguments in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt and asked people about HB-2 and their overall knowledge of how abortions actually work. Some people said they didn't know how safe abortions were, while others claimed that the procedure often leads to injury and even death, which simply isn't true.

So what's the answer to this widespread lack of knowledge about abortion? Education, says Dr. Rachael Phelps -- an actual medical professional who also provides abortions. "Because we don't talk about [abortion], there is this mystery about it," Phelps said.

Phelps told Plank she's even worked with physician residents who are still unfamiliar with the specifics of abortion.

"Around one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime," Plank says at the end of the episode. "Maybe it's time to talk about it with them."

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