March 11, 2020

40 Days, Abortion, Fake Clinics, Reproductive Justice, Reproductive Rights

The anti-abortion protesters outside our clinic in Augusta spread lies and misinformation about abortion care, often citing debunked research to raise confusion among patients seeking safe and legal health care.

Well, we’ve got (more than) a few studies of our own—and, unlike those used by the other side, this research is credible.

Today, as MFP patients continue facing 40 days of harassment just to get to medical appointments, we’ll continue fighting shame with facts and compassion.

When you Pledge-A-Patient, you’re supporting evidence-based care based on science, not stigma.

No Regrets

Let’s start with the sweeping study published earlier this year in Social Science & Medicine, showing that five years after their abortions, over 95 percent of women said it was the right decision for them.

“Even if they had difficulty making the decision initially, or if they felt their community would not approve, our research shows that the overwhelming majority of women who obtain abortions continue to believe it was the right decision,” said Corinne Rocca, PhD, MPH, associate professor in the UC San Francisco Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, and first author of the study. “This debunks the idea that most women suffer emotionally from having an abortion.”

It also reinforces our movement’s efforts to destigmatize this common and essential health care procedure. According to the research, roughly 70 percent of respondents reported feeling they would be stigmatized by their communities if people knew they had sought an abortion, with 29 percent reporting low levels and 31 percent reporting high levels of community stigma. We must reject the inflammatory, cruel language and tactics that perpetuate this stigma in our communities.

The Turnaway Study

The UCSF researchers analyzed data from the Turnaway Study, a five-year effort to understand the health and socioeconomic consequences for nearly 1,000 women who sought abortions in 21 states around the country between 2008-2010. The Turnaway Study provides evidence of the serious consequences of being denied a wanted abortion, reminding us that access to comprehensive reproductive health care services, including abortion, is key to economic security, well-being, and self-actualization.

For example, it finds that women denied a wanted abortion who have to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term have four times greater odds of living below the Federal Poverty Level.

In addition, women denied abortion are:

  • More likely to experience serious complications from the end of pregnancy including eclampsia and death
  • More likely to stay tethered to abusive partners
  • More likely to suffer anxiety and loss of self-esteem in the short term after being denied abortion
  • Less likely to have aspirational life plans for the coming year

Dangerous Misinformation

Some types of deception perpetuate stigma; others do that and raise serious safety concerns for our patients. There’s research to back that up, too.

Consider, for example, anti-abortion efforts to promote a spurious treatment to stop or interrupt a medication abortion. A study attempting to estimate the efficacy and safety of this treatment had to be halted early due to safety concerns — some of the patients who participated experienced dangerous bleeding and had to be hospitalized. Yet there are still some states where anti-abortion politicians are passing laws forcing providers to tell patients about this medically unproven information.

Anti-abortion activists, including those outside our clinic, also push patients toward biased, non-medical organizations known as “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) or fake clinics. There are at least eight of these fake clinics in Maine. They don’t provide comprehensive reproductive health care, but they do pressure and shame patients, often delaying their procedure or pushing them past the deadline for a legal abortion altogether. Again, this is both stigmatizing and dangerous.

Indeed, just last fall, the Society for Adolescent Health and the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology published a joint statement in the Journal of Adolescent Health declaring that fake clinics are harmful to young people.

“CPCs often provide inaccurate health information and attempt to thwart the use of safe, acceptable, desired health care services, particularly contraception and abortion,” the position paper reads. “CPC practices and services do not align with a public health approach and are inconsistent with recommendations of professional medical organizations and medical and ethical standards of care.”


If you want to support evidence-based, medically accurate care for all Mainers, Pledge-A-Patient today. Your gift ensures patients have access to affordable, high-quality services from a provider who believes in science.