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Why confusion over key pregnancy facts makes for uninformed debate over abortionxa0limits

·2 mins

Most Americans are unaware of key facts about pregnancy, including how it is dated and the duration of a trimester. This lack of knowledge is significant as several states are implementing restrictions on abortion. On May 1, 2024, Florida enacted a law prohibiting abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for documented cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is at risk. Other Southern states have also implemented complete bans or highly restrictive abortion laws since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the federal right to abortion in June 2022. Many of these laws establish a specific number of weeks after which abortion is prohibited. Some experts highlight that many women are unaware of their pregnancy at six weeks, with research indicating that the average time women discover they are pregnant is at five and a half weeks or later. A survey conducted in September 2023 found that only one-third of respondents correctly knew how pregnancies are dated, while approximately 60% believed pregnancy is dated from conception or the weeks since the woman’s last sexual activity. Additionally, just 35% of respondents supported a six-week abortion ban. Revelations from the survey suggest that individuals with less understanding of pregnancy timing are more likely to support such bans. The gender breakdown of lawmakers in Florida who voted for the six-week ban is also noteworthy, with the majority being men. Concerns arise regarding the knowledge base of lawmakers and their ability to effectively regulate abortion access. Florida’s ban not only impacts access to abortion within the state but also affects individuals from neighboring states who rely on Florida’s abortion clinics. For instance, in 2023, 7,700 women from other Southern states where abortion is largely banned traveled to Florida for abortions. Overall, these findings raise questions about the adequacy of public knowledge concerning pregnancy and the ability of individuals without medical training to regulate abortion access.