Women have abortions for a lot of different reasons, and making the decision to terminate a pregnancy is not a decision that's ever taken lightly or done as an "easy way out." Plenty stands in a woman's way: the laws of the country she lives in, social stigma, access to a safe procedure and even fear for her health.

A new study by the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine has done something to assuage that fear, clearing up once and for all three major misconceptions about abortion. The study measured the quality of pregnancy termination in America against five standards: safety, effectiveness, level of patient consideration, efficiency and equity. It also considered major misconceptions about abortion that are so pervasive in our collective knowledge that they can influence the decision a woman makes with her body.

Myth #1: abortions increase risk of breast cancer and infertility

One of the pervasive myths surrounding abortion is that it causes women increased risk of issues like infertility, cancer and abnormal growth of the placenta with future pregnancies. The study found this to be untrue and further debunked the myths that abortions increase women's risk of mental health issues like depression, anxiety and PTSD. They don't.

Myth #2: abortions are highly dangerous

Child birth is actually more dangerous than abortion, and the earlier the abortion is performed, the safer it is for the mother. We're lucky in Australia that the rate of maternal death versus the total number of women who give birth is vanishingly small, but the risk of death from a safe, legal abortion is even smaller.

Myth #3: doctors in hospitals are the only ones who can safely perform abortions

The key word here is "safely." Medication abortions can be performed at a GP's office, and nurses, midwives, doctors' assistants are all capable of providing medication and aspiration abortions. In some Australian states though, abortions are only legal if they're performed in a hospital.

While access to abortion in Australia isn't as dire as it is in some countries - anti-abortion laws in developed and developing countries have resulted maternal death - but your right to an abortion in Australia depends on what state you live in

Queensland and News South Wales have abortion listed in their criminal codes, which means the procedure is illegal. There's a loophole though: if the termination is done to protect the mother's mental or physical health, it's allowed.  In Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, abortions are legal for women up to varying numbers of weeks pregnant. In Victoria, women up to 24 weeks can legally have an abortion, while in the NT, it's 14. In ACT abortions must be performed in a hospital. 

New study debunks three dangerous abortion myths