Nearly 20 percent of Americans don’t know that first trimester abortion is legal

Truth-and-LiesAccording to a new study from the University of Cincinnati, residents of blue and red states are pretty much equally, scarily uninformed about abortion’s legality, risks, and prevalence. Here are the questions from the survey, followed by the percentage of respondents who answered correctly. Give it a shot and check the correct answers after the jump.

  1. What percentage of women in the U.S. will have an abortion by age 45? (Percentage who answered correctly: 41 percent)
  2. Which has a greater health risk: An abortion in the first three months of pregnancy or giving birth? (Percentage who answered correctly: 31 percent)
  3. A woman who has an abortion in the first three months of pregnancy is more likely to have breast cancer than if she were to continue the pregnancy. (Percentage who answered correctly: 37 percent)
  4. A woman who has an abortion in the first three months of pregnancy is more at risk of a serious mental health problem than if she were to continue that pregnancy. (Percentage who answered correctly: 31 percent)
  5. A woman having an abortion in the first three months of pregnancy is more likely to have difficulty getting pregnant in the future. (Percentage who answered correctly: 35 percent)
  6. Abortion during the first three months of pregnancy is legal in the U.S. (Percentage who answered correctly: 83 percent)

While this level of ignorance is worrying, sadly, it shouldn’t be surprising considering that misinformation about abortion is rampant.

Abstinence-only sex education remains a federally funded blight on the health and minds of our young people. When abortion appears in pop culture, it’s typically portrayed as far risker than it actually is. An internet search for “abortion risks” will turn up some accurate resources — interspersed with dozens of anti-choice sites warning of the nonexistent link between abortion and breast cancer, the risks the procedure supposedly poses to future fertility, and the psychological dangers of the made-up “post-abortion syndrome.” Myths jump from crisis pregnancy centers’ pamphlets and anti-choice protestors’ signs to state legislatures, where they’re regularly repeated as truth by anti-choice lawmakers who feel entitled to their own facts. And they’re sometimes even codified into law. When states have passed laws requiring to doctors to lie to their patients about abortion’s risks, can you really blame the public for being confused?

Correct answers: 1) 33 percent 2) giving birth 3) false 4) false 5) false 6) true

Maya DusenberyMaya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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