Anna Sheffer
June 11, 2019 11:34 am

For decades, abortion opponents have attempted to paint the procedure as not only immoral, but dangerous as well. As a result, there’s a lot of misinformation that surrounds it—such as the myths that it can lead to an increased risk of breast cancer or cause infertility. But research shows that abortion is safe. In fact, a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that patients who are denied abortions actually face a greater risk of chronic health problems than those who terminate their pregnancies.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of California, Davis, documented the health of 874 women who sought abortions between 2008 and 2010. Out of the participants, 328 terminated their pregnancies in the first trimester, 383 had second-trimester abortions, and 163 carried their pregnancies to term. After five years, they found that 27% of women who hadn’t terminated their pregnancies rated their health as “fair” or “poor,” compared to 20% of women who had abortions in the first trimester and 21% of women who had abortions in the second trimester.

Women who gave birth were also slightly more likely to experience joint pain or chronic migraines. In other words, patients who are denied abortions are slightly more likely to experience adverse health effects—and abortions don’t seem to negatively impact health.

Study co-author Lauren Ralph, an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at UC San Francisco, told Time that the difference in health could stem from many factors, including complications from childbirth and the stress of having to care for a child.

“There’s the notion that there could be [health] impacts from having a child in your life rather than if you chose to have an abortion,” Ralph explained to Insider. “The experience of these two groups is very different over those five years.”

At a time when states are passing progressively stricter abortion laws, this new study shows some of the negative consequences that patients denied abortions could face. The research doesn’t even take into account the chance that outlawing abortion could cause women to die in illegal procedures. By now, it’s clear that it’s dangerous to force people to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. This is yet one more reason to keep fighting for reproductive rights.