#1 Banning abortion would lead to dangerous back-alley abortions

A common myth is that if women are deprived of the opportunity of having legal abortions, they will opt for more dangerous back alley abortions which will result in a higher mortality rate. However, according to the Elliot Institute, surveys show that only six to 20 per cent of women who currently have legal abortions would consider getting them illegally. “This finding also confirms that legalization of abortion has replaced every illegal abortion that we sought to avoid with between 10 and 15 legal abortions.” In fact, the institute notes, it is easier now for pregnant women to be pressured into having an abortion: “Legalization has made it easier for those around her to insist that because abortion is legal it must be ‘safe,’ and because it is ‘socially approved,’ it must be moral. It makes it easier for them to refuse to support her desire to continue the pregnancy and insist that she abort anyway.”

Furthermore, in the mid-1950s, illegal abortions were not as risky as they are now portrayed. Former Planned Parenthood director Mary S. Calderone wrote in 1960 in the American Journal of Public Health, “Abortion is no longer a dangerous procedure. This applies not just to therapeutic abortions as performed in hospitals but also to so-called illegal abortions as done by physician. In 1957 there were only 260 deaths in the whole country attributed to abortions of any kind … 90 percent of all illegal abortions are presently being done by physicians.” In 1971, two years before abortion became legal in the United States, the Centre for Disease Control only reported 39 deaths from illegal abortion. As it is, the physical and psychological risks associated with any abortion procedure mean that legal abortion in the long run is no safer than illegal abortion.

The late Dr. Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League and later a pro-life convert, admitted in his 1979 book, Aborting America, that in NARAL, they always reported “5,000 to 10,000 deaths a year (from illegal abortion). I confess that I knew that the figures were totally false and I suppose that others did too if they stopped to think of it. But in the ‘morality’ of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics?”

#2 Abortion is safe for women

Abortion poses a number of short and long-term health risks for women. Short-term risks include acute hematometra (post-abortal syndrome), hemorrhage, endometritis (infection of the uterine lining), perforations and lacerations of the uterus, blood clotting, embolism, and death from botched abortion. Long-term risks include breast cancer, infertility, and greater chance of complications during pregnancy. In addition, the procedure involves acute psychological consequences such as depression, violence, child abuse, and breakdown in relationships.

The American Life League, upon performing a literature review of mortality-morbidity rates of abortion and pregnancies resulting in childbirth found that the data is not always comparable and that some studies were skewed in favour of abortion. This is because, to do an accurate comparison, all other variables between the two groups must be identical except for whether they had an abortion or not. Furthermore, there is inflation of abortion estimates and pregnancy-related mortality, underreporting of abortion-related deaths, and false reporting of abortions performed on women who are not pregnant at all as “safe abortions.” Furthermore,  “complications and deaths attributed to subsequent pregnancies may, in reality, have been caused by prior abortion. Statistically, however, such morbidity and mortality is being attributed to pregnancy and childbirth, not to the prior abortion,” says the organization.

The risks do not stop with surgical abortion. The Australian reported in May 2011 that women using the RU-486 abortion pill were more likely to be hospitalized than women who went through surgical abortion. “The audit of nearly 7,000 abortions performed in South Australia in 2009 and last year found that 3.3 per cent of women who used mifepristone in the first trimester of pregnancy … later turned up at hospital emergency departments, against 2.2 per cent who had undergone surgery.” One-third of women who used the pill during the second trimester of pregnancy faced complications.

Also, abortion facilities in the United States have not been adequately regulated, leading to several abuses in procedure that could endanger the lives of clients. An undercover investigation by Operation Rescue, for instance, prompted the Texas Medical Board to begin its own examination of the state’s facilities, as indicated in a March 31 letter this year. Abuses reported by Operation Rescue included biohazardous waste, illegal disposal of patient medical records, misuse of drugs, and disregard for parental notification laws.

#3 Post-Abortion Syndrome is a myth

Post-Abortion Syndrome is a term used by some practitioners and groups to describe the link between abortion and its negative psychological effects. According to the blog for the movie Blood Money (an exposé of the abortion industry), symptoms include relationship breakdown, suicide, anxiety attacks, sexual dysfunction, depression, nightmares, and drug and alcohol abuse. The issue is still controversial, with pro-abortion advocates denying its existence and pro-lifers claiming it is a problem. According to Priscilla Coleman, professor of human development and family studies at Bowling Green University, in an article from the Elliot Institute website, theunchoice.com, over 30 studies that were published from 2005 to 2010 indicate the negative effect abortion has on women. “A conservative estimate from the best available data is 20 to 30 percent of women who undergo an abortion will experience serious and/or prolonged negative consequences.” The organization’s afterabortion.org web site states that women may experience abortion as traumatic because they were coerced into having the procedure, they perceive abortion as the killing of the child, or that they experience the procedure as a form of rape.

Meanwhile, studies that indicate there is no link between abortion and negative emotional effects are criticized by the pro-life community for serious flaws. For example, an October 2010 study published in the Guttmacher Institute’s journal, Perspectives on Reproductive and Sexual Health, claims there is no link between abortion and teenage depression. However, Professor Coleman stated in a news release, it had a very small sample size of teenagers who had abortions, used few control variables, and used very superficial means to identify depression. Apart from this particular study, questionnaires abortion advocates typically cite as proving abortion has no negative psychological effects are flawed because they do not guarantee an accurate description of personal feelings.

#4 The fetus is just a blob of cells

Another myth is that a fetus is simply a blob of cells or a piece of the mother’s tissue. It is evident that the cells that make the fetus from conception are its own, based upon a unique genetic code derived from the mother and father. Therefore, it is a unique being and definitely not part of the mother’s tissue. “In a purely biological sense, we are all ‘just blobs of cells.’ Zygote, embryo, foetus, baby, toddler, child, teenager, and adult are just words we use to describe different stages of the continuous process that is human development, starting at fertilization,” writes the Oxford University Pro-Life Society on its blog.

After fertilization, the zygote undergoes multiple divisions to form a blastocyst, a cellular sphere containing a fluid-filled cavity and an inner cell mass. The inner cell mass is the source of embryonic stem cells which can form all types of cells.  It is termed an embryo once it implants in the uterus. At the embryo stage, the cells start to differentiate to form the necessary components a viable human will need such as blood and nerve cells. The external features and organs gradually develop. By the third week of gestation, the brain, spinal cord, heart, and gastrointestinal tract begin to develop. By the fourth and fifth weeks, the heart beats at a regular rhythm and blood is circulated through major vessels. All of this information was coded in the person’s DNA since the moment of conception.

#5 The fetus is not a person

Many abortion debates revolve around whether the fetus is a person or not and thus deserving of protection under the law. At the moment of conception, the father’s sperm cell joins with the mother’s ovum in the fallopian tube, forming a zygote. “The zygote contains all of the genetic information (DNA) necessary to become a child. Half of the genetic information comes from the mother’s egg and half from the father’s sperm,” states the National Institutes of Health MedlinePlus resource for patients. Therefore, the essential material needed for its future development into a unique human being with its own distinctive characteristics (such as gender and eye colour) is already present immediately. The uterus provides the environment needed for the survival and growth of the child.

#6 Abortion is a fundamental woman’s right

Abortion is often justified as a fundamental woman’s right. “To achieve equality, all women must have the right to decide for themselves whether and when they will bear children and how many,” the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada says on its website. “Without control over their fertility, women cannot have autonomy over their lives and cannot play a full and equal role in society.” According to an article on the Canadian Department of Justice web site, “As far back as Morgentaler [1988] I.S.C.R. 30, which recognized a woman’s right to abortion, [sic] it has been asserted that granting a fetus the ‘right to life’ … from the moment of conception creates a potential conflict with the woman’s rights to personal dignity, bodily integrity and autonomy.”

These definitions, however, contradict the inalienable rights of the unborn child. “True rights protect human beings and their rightful property from harm, and to ensure protection of basic freedoms – but not to cause harm in others,” says Toronto Right to Life on its web site. “Even ‘rights’ to (pursue) legal prosecution which may result in some action which may cause ‘harm’ (imprisonment, heavy fines, etc.) never target the innocent.” This view is confirmed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in articles 3 and 30, which state that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person” and that “nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying … any right … to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.”

As abortion involves killing a distinct human being with its own genetic code, it must be treated as a case of personhood and not of a mere body part. According to a REAL Women of Canada position paper, women have a choice in bearing children anyway: “Reproductive choice is exercised prior to conception, because conception and birth are consequences of choice; not choices in themselves.”

Furthermore, viewing abortion as an issue of equality between women and men is fundamentally flawed. “The foundation of feminism is built on the basic tenets of nonviolence, nondiscrimination, and justice for all. Abortion is discrimination based on age, size, location, and sometimes gender, disability, or parentage,” writes Serrin M. Foster, President of Feminists for Life. “The early American feminists did not work to replace a patriarchy with a matriarchy. Women have a right to be women in the workplace and in school. Women shouldn’t have to pass as men.”

#7 Abortion is a woman’s issue

Pro-abortion advocates always depict abortion as a woman’s issue because she is the one carrying the child. Technically this is true but it is beside the point. Biologically, half of the genetic information of the unborn child comes from the father. However, some men feel as if it is not their right to decide on the future of the unborn child and hide what they think about abortion. Nevertheless, even though the law (in Canada) denies the male any involvement in the decision to abort, in practice, men can persuade their partners and there are many instances when they pressure them to have abortions; in other words, a woman’s choice to have an abortion is strongly influenced by a man.

Furthermore, evidence indicates that abortions also have psychological effects on men. In Women’s Health After Abortion, Elizabeth Ring-Cassidy and Ian Gentles state that many studies show, “men often experience depression, guilt, anger, grief, and shame after their partner has an abortion … when they have not been consulted about the decision, they often feel angry about being legally disenfranchised.” This may even occur in cases where the man himself encouraged his partner to have an abortion.

Abortion is also an issue that affects men because of the negative emotional effects men face after the procedure, a fact that has been largely ignored in research. An April 2009 study headed by Priscilla Coleman and published in the journal Public Health, shows abortion leads to relationship problems for the couple and even a greater likelihood for domestic violence. Men whose current partners had abortions were more likely to argue about jealousy (96 per cent more likely), children (195 per cent), and drugs (385 per cent).

Arthur Shostak, professor of sociology at Drexel University in Pennsylvania published his findings upon surveying 1,000 men who came with their partners to abortion facilities in his 1984 book, Men and Abortion: Lessons, Losses and Love. While in the waiting room, most men felt angry and wondered about the negative impacts abortion would have on their partners. Over 80 per cent thought about the unborn child, 83 per cent opposed legal restrictions on abortion, and 45 per cent said they encouraged the woman to have an abortion. Four out of every five married men involved thought women and men should have an equal impact on the decision to abort. Two out of three reported feelings of guilt.

#8 Abortion is a choice

A popular argument for abortion is that it is a personal choice. But, says the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform on its web site, “laws already limit what we can choose to do with our bodies, especially if what we do hurts someone else’s body. This is why you won’t be arrested for having an intoxicated body when you’re home alone, but you will be arrested if you use your intoxicated body to drive – because in doing so you could hurt someone else’s body.” Therefore, since an unborn child is an individual person, abortion is a “choice” that infringes on the right of someone else. Rape and murder are also choices, but that does not mean that they are morally wrong or permitted under the law. “All freedoms have limits on them, and for good reason. Unlimited personal freedom eventually means anarchy, licentiousness, and personal slavery,” states Human Life International.

#9 Pro-life demonstrators are violent

Pro-abortion activists sometimes accuse pro-lifers of violence, specifically against abortionists and abortion facilities. They cite, for example, the murder of late-term abortionist George Tiller, a crime which pro-life organizations immediately denounced. According to Daniel Sayani in the New American, though, it is the pro-abortion side that commits most of the violence and yet it escapes media scrutiny. The National Abortion Federation reports “that since 1977, there have been only 17 attempted murders, 383 death threats, 153 incidents of assault or battery, and three kidnappings committed against abortion providers.” Meanwhile, Human Life International found more than 8,519 instances of violence or illegal acts, including 1,251 killings (including botched abortions and murder of newborns). The report on abortionviolence.com states that pro-abortion violence is growing. “In fact, pro-abortionists have averaged more murders per year since 1967 … than so-called ‘pro-lifers’ have in the history of the entire conflict over abortion”. Instances include the murder of pro-life activist Joe Pouillon in 2009 by a pro-abortion activist and the 1994 shooting of pro-life minister and talk show host Jerry Simon by another pro-abortion activist. Furthermore, pro-abortion activist Ted Schulman was arrested in 2011 by the FBI by the violent threats he repeatedly made against pro-lifers. While pro-life groups quickly denounce any violence, including actions against those in the abortion industry, the pro-abortion lobby seldom even acknowledges violence against the pro-life movement, let alone the violence inherent in abortion.

Meanwhile, pro-life organizers encourage activists to demonstrate peacefully outside of facilities, offering compassionate aid to those who want it, and praying for the souls of the unborn and abortion victims. (In 1998, the New York Times quoted Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes that he prays for abortionist Henry Morgentaler.) Many times,  pro-lifers encounter physical and verbal abuse from pro-abortion advocates. One example of peaceful pro-life demonstration is the 40 Days for Life Campaign, during which pro-lifers hold vigils, pray, and offer help outside of abortion facilities. LifeChain is held annually throughout North America and it features people holding signs with life-affirming messages silently for one hour.

#10 Legalizing abortion reduces crime

Abortion advocates sometimes point out that abortion is useful because it leads to a decrease in the crime rate. For example, Henry Morgentaler, in a speech he made when he received an honourary law degree at the University of Western Ontario in 2005, said, “the most important factor is that there are fewer unwanted children, fewer children likely to be abused, brutalized or neglected … children so victimized they may grow up for a thirst for vengeance which seeks an outlet in violence.” Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics, argued using statistical evidence that children born right after Roe v. Wade were less likely to be involved in violent crime. He explains in a 1999 Slate article that “1) Legalized abortion leads to fewer ‘unwanted’ babies being born, and 2) unwanted babies are more likely to suffer abuse and neglect and are therefore at an increased risk for criminal involvement later in crime.”

Slate, however, also published articles by journalist Steve Sailer in response to Levitt’s piece. “Your logic implies that the babies who managed to get born in the ‘70s should have grown up to be especially law-abiding teens in the early ‘90s,” replied Sailer. “In reality, they went on the worst youth murder spree in American history.” In 1993, the murder rate among 14 to 17 year olds who were born after Roe v. Wade was 3.6 times higher than that among 14 to 17 year olds in 1984 that were born before abortion was legalized. In 1993, the crime rate among those who were 25 and older – those born before Roe — actually dropped by six per cent. Paradoxically, Sailer correlates this drop in crime to the rise in the crack business around 1993 that would have involved more teens in crime. “This generation … is better behaved today in part because so many of its bad apples are now confined to prisons, wheelchairs, and coffins.”

Abortion did not reduce the number of unwanted or illegitimate births either and the children it eliminated would often have been born into better circumstances. Ted Joyce notes in the Journal of Human Resources that, “Unmarried women that abort have more completed schooling and higher AFQT (the military’s IQ test for applicants for enlistment) scores than their counterparts that carry the pregnancy to term.” Sailer, in the Slate article, states that abortion did not much affect children born to an “underclass” whose mothers were not that concerned about birth control. Addressing Levitt, Sailer wrote: “In fact, in your paper, you cite evidence that 60 per cent to 75 per cent of all fetuses aborted in the ‘70s would never have been conceived without legal abortion. If that’s what happened across all classes, the increase in careless pregnancies, specifically among the underclass, might have been so big that it negated the eugenic or euculturalist effects of abortion.” It is even possible, Sailer continues, that “the revolution in social attitudes that excused terminating the unborn may also have persuaded violent youths that they could be excused for terminating the born.”

Furthermore, in 2005, Christopher Foote, a senior economist at the Boston Federal Reserve Bank, and research assistant Christopher Goetz uncovered two statistical errors in Levitt’s analysis that, when corrected, made the trend between abortion and crime rate disappear. Levitt acknowledged one of the mistakes, but said that he still stands by his theory (despite his lack of evidence).

More importantly, regardless of the statistical trends between abortion and crime, it is unethical to apply a form of pre-emptive capital punishment on an innocent who may theoretically commit a crime at some point in the future.

#11 The pro-life movement
is a religious cause

Opponents often label the pro-life movement as solely motivated by religion, claiming that religious zealots are seeking to impose their morality on others. Abortion advocates use the argument of separation of church and state to counter calls for protection for unborn life. This is in part because often pro-lifers conclude that life is sacred because it is a gift from God. Furthermore, abortion is condemned by many Christian denominations. Yet, there is firm scientific proof that supports the pro-life position and that opposition can be rooted in something other than religious belief. Indeed, there are many pro-lifers who are not religious. This includes the Atheist and Agnostic Pro-Life League, which states on its home page, that “life is all there is and all that matters, and abortion destroys the life of an innocent human being.” The organization Libertarians for Life also defends the pro-life position. According to its web site, “libertarianism’s basic principle is that each of us has the obligation not to (violate the rights of) anyone else … one’s right to control one’s own body does not allow violating the obligation not to aggress. There is never a right to kill an innocent person. Prenatally, we are all innocent persons.”

“Because we don’t know where life begins, the only logical thing to do is to err on the side of caution – the side of life,” writes Dean Barnett, a self-described pro-life secular Jew, in The Boston Globe. “Some may respond to this logic by asking, ‘Who are you to foist your values on others?’ That’s a common question in the abortion debate, and yet it has no rightful place in the argument. It’s the precise moral and logical equivalent of antebellum Southeners saying that blacks weren’t human beings, and that slavery opponents had no right to even question their peculiar institution.”

An interview published by LifeSiteNews with a blog personality known as “the raving atheist” who was featured in the anti-Christian documentary, ‘The God who wasn’t there’ explores how the ‘religion’ argument has been used against pro-lifers. “In the late 1960’s the pro-choice movement made a deliberate, strategic decision to trivialize the abortion debate by dismissing all pro-life arguments as mere Catholic dogma. This made it easy to gloss over the inconvenient, undeniable scientific embryological fact that human life begins at conception in favour of specious arguments regarding church/state separation and accusation that religion “is being forced down our throats,” said “the raving atheist.” Indeed, former abortionist and NARAL co-founder Bernard Nathanson later admitted that dismissing abortion as a religious issue was a deliberate strategy to deflect criticism of the practice of abortion.