An operating room technician performs an ultrasound on a patient at an abortion clinic in Shreveport, La., Wednesday, July 6, 2022. Credit: Ted Jackson / AP

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Amy Fried is a political science professor at the University of Maine. Her views are her own and do not represent those of any group with which she is affiliated.

Now that the Supreme Court has decided that states can force women and girls to give birth by banning abortion from the moment of conception, it’s important to separate truth from fiction.

Because one in four American women have had an abortion, you either are one or know someone who’s had one. For me these include a friend who very much wanted a baby, but discovered late in the pregnancy that the fetus had no brain, just a brain stem, and could not survive outside of the uterus. Going to full term and through labor and delivery would have been physically risky and emotionally painful.

Others I know who had abortions did so because their education and careers would have been derailed if they had a child then, could not afford another or were in an abusive relationship.

Younger women have the most abortions. According to the Guttmacher Institute, nearly three-quarters are teenagers or in their 20s. More than half identify with some religion. More than half used birth control. And more than 50 percent of abortions are via medication approved for abortions up to 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Nearly all abortions happen early in pregnancies. In 2016, two-thirds of abortion were in the first eight weeks and 91 percent in the first 13 weeks. About 1 percent take place into the second half of a full-term pregnancy; i.e., after 20 weeks.

Abortions late in pregnancy receive disproportionate attention from anti-choicers — sometimes with the blatant lie that, up until the moment of birth, women decide they just don’t want a baby and get abortions.

There are times when doctors, the pregnant woman and her family members prioritize a pregnant woman whose life is in imminent danger — from, say preeclampsia (which mostly occurs at 37 weeks gestation or later) —  over the fetus she is carrying.

And, as a study found, women choose to end half of all pregnancies when lethal fetal abnormalities are discovered, which is typically after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Research shows banning abortion is dangerous to women’s and girls’ health. As the  national association of obstetricians and gynecologists observed,  anti-abortion state laws “will force many people to face the known risks associated with continuing a pregnancy, including potential pregnancy-related complications and worsening of existing health conditions, as well as the morbidity and mortality associated with childbirth.”

And there are other ways limiting abortion harms health. Already women in Texas who had miscarriages have had trouble getting needed treatment, and a pregnant woman in Ohio who needed chemotherapy (which would harm the fetus) couldn’t get an abortion there.

Today laws in different states vary a lot, with some banning all or virtually all abortions. Anyone who is or could become pregnant should consider not visiting or even not traveling through strongly anti-choice states because, if their health becomes threatened from an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or anything else, they could receive substandard medical care. Even women who aren’t pregnant have learned they  can’t get prescriptions they need.

Banning abortion also hurts women economically. Studies demonstrate that legal abortion enabled women to get more education and do better financially. Women turned away from getting an abortion after seeking one experienced greater financial distress than women who obtained abortions.

What can be done? President Joe Biden signed executive orders protecting women’s ability to get abortion medication by mail and the right of women to travel to states where abortion is available and required hospitals to perform abortions when a woman’s life is in danger. The administration started to disseminate information on access to birth control and abortion. A Republican president would quite likely reverse those steps.

Unlike Paul LePage, Maine Gov. Janet Mills backs abortion rights. Mills issued an executive order to protect abortion providers and patients in the state, including people from other states. In contrast to their Democratic opponents,  a slew of Republican state legislative candidates oppose abortion at all stages of pregnancy, some even when the woman’s life is threatened.

As Mike McClellan, the policy director of the anti-choice Maine Christian Civic League, expressed recently, “Elections matter.”

Indeed they do, and so does having accurate information. We can fight demagoguery and deceit in the politics of abortion.

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Amy Fried, Opinion columnist

Amy Fried has written about the media and politics, women in politics, Maine and American political culture, and political activism, and works to create change through the Rising Tide Center. A political...