Abortion Access Fact Sheet
Evidence-Based Talking Points
As obstetrician–gynecologists, we support the health, safety, and well-being of our patients by providing comprehensive medical care. This means working to ensure that all patients can access the full spectrum of maternal, sexual, and reproductive health care options, including abortion.
Abortion Is an Important Component of Comprehensive Medical Care
- Abortion is essential health care. There is a broad medical consensus that abortion is an essential part of reproductive health care.
- Abortion is a common medical intervention that improves the lives, health, and well-being of those who need it. Roughly one-quarter of women in the United States access abortion care in their lifetime.
People Need Unimpeded Access to All Medical Care, Including Abortion
- Restricting access to abortion forces some pregnant people to continue their pregnancies to delivery, leaving them to face the many health risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth. This includes the emergence of new complications associated with pregnancy and worsening of existing conditions.
- Barriers to abortion exacerbate existing societal disparities. Barriers limiting abortion access most profoundly affect communities that already face health care and social inequities. For example, Black women face a maternal mortality rate that is three times higher than that of white women. Limiting access to abortion forces people to carry pregnancies to term and face these risks.
- Risk of complication increases with waiting periods. Abortion care is among the safest medical interventions, but the associated rate of complications increases as the pregnancy progresses. Laws requiring waiting periods, multiple visits, and other barriers to accessing abortion in a timely manner increase risk and threaten patient safety. The risk of death associated with abortion increases from 0.3 out of every 100,000 abortions at or before eight weeks to 6.7 out of 100,000 abortions at 18 weeks or later.
- Access to safe, legal abortion helps patients feel comfortable and supported. Clinicians and patients can work together to determine what is right based on individual circumstances, values, needs, and preferences.
- Lack of abortion access has a significant impact on mental health. Evidence suggests that people are more likely to experience psychological issues, including depression and anxiety, when denied an abortion. One recent study also shows that nearly all people who have an abortion report that it was the right decision for them five years later.
While People May Have Differing Views About Abortion, Those Views Must Not Interfere with the Relationship Between People and Their Doctors
- Restrictive laws criminalize physicians’ duty of care. Restrictive laws on abortion place physicians in an ethical dilemma of choosing between their obligation to provide the best available medical care and substantial legal (sometimes criminal) penalties.
- Medical decisions are personal. Like all medical matters, decisions regarding abortion should be made only by patients in consultation with their physicians and health care professionals.
- Barriers violate long-established medical ethics. Abortion bans and other restrictions violate long-established and widely accepted medical ethical principles of beneficence, nonmaleficence, and respect for patient autonomy.
Abortion Is Safe
- Abortion is a safe medical intervention. The vast majority of abortions are safely performed in outpatient nonhospital settings. The risk of maternal death associated with childbirth is approximately 14 times higher than the risk associated with abortion.
- Complication rates from abortion are extremely low. Only about 2% of women who undergo abortion experience a complication associated with the abortion, and most complications are minor and easily treatable with follow-up procedures or antibiotics.
- Abortion is safer than many common medical procedures. The risk of complication or mortality from abortion is less than the same risk from common procedures like wisdom tooth removal, cancer-screening colonoscopy, and plastic surgery.