Having abortions instead of using birth control is not something women want to do. This myth assumes that women are irresponsible, and that having an abortion is easier than using contraception. The decision to have an abortion is not, for most women, a trivial matter. Further, abortion is inaccessible to many women, which prevents it from being a chosen or viable primary method of birth control.
Most abortions are the result of failed contraception or other factors that made using contraception difficult. If contraception is easily available, most sexually active women are very conscientious contraceptors. Even so, between half and two-thirds of women who get abortions reported using contraception during the month they became pregnant. We know that:
- No form of contraception is 100% effective, including sterilization.
- All modern methods of contraception have some associated risks and side effects.
- Finding suitable contraception is very difficult for some women, and access is a challenge in some countries.
- Sexual behaviour is not always consensual or predictable.
Even when legal, abortion can be hard to access in many parts of the world. It requires time and money to get one, as it is not funded in many countries. In the U.S., the average cost of an abortion in 2017 was $451 (USD), while later abortions can cost thousands of dollars. Many women also need to take time off work and travel long distances to find services.
The average person using abortion as birth control would become pregnant two to three times per year and would therefore need two to three abortions per year. This would be extremely difficult to manage and doesn’t align with statistics on who gets abortions: 61% of patients in the U.S. are in their twenties, 75% are economically disadvantaged, and 59% have children (2014 figures). These are not people who can spend thousands of dollars every year. Further, while almost half of all American women will have a second abortion over their lifetime, far fewer have 3 or more. High repeat abortion rates are associated with life challenges (e.g., partner abuse, addiction issues), as well as a lack of available, effective contraception.
Government of South Australia, Myths and facts about abortion
Options for Sexual Health, Common abortion myths and facts
Everyday Feminism, 6 abortion Myths Debunked (2014)
Think Progress , Pricing American Women Out Of Abortion, One Restriction at A Time, by Tara Culp-Ressler (2015)
Guttmacher Institute, Induced Abortion in the United States, 2013
Guttmacher Institute, Repeat Abortion, Repeat Unintended Pregnancy, Repeated and Misguided Government Policies (2007)