Zender: University of Chicago’s New Online “Abortion Guide” Misleads Women

Last Friday the University of Chicago strayed from its reputation of academic excellence to launch a new webpage entitled: Accessing Abortion In Illinois: A Guide for Health Care and Social Services Providers. (From here referred to as “Abortion Guide”).

An educational institution’s primary responsibility is to present students with accurate facts, to encourage examination of the facts, and to allow students to draw their own logical conclusions. However, entangled the University of Chicago’s Abortion Guide is inaccurate information, hypocrisies, inadequately researched studies, and attempts to dissuade women from seeking all healthcare options available.

The Abortion Guide states “equal access to all pregnancy options is critical for individuals” but then condemns the 31 pregnancy resource centers across Illinois. These centers provide free pregnancy resources including free ultrasounds, free pregnancy tests, free counseling, free maternity clothing, and much more. Why would a guide that underscores the importance of access to all pregnancy resources, attack community-based non-profits that increase pregnancy options and healthcare access?

The Abortion Guide continues to attack these pregnancy resource centers stating they are “grossly misrepresenting” the medical risks of abortion “‘telling the callers that having an abortion could increase the risk of breast cancer….’”

Excerpt from the U of C's online Abortion Guide

Excerpt from the U of C’s online Abortion Guide

Elaborating on its position on the correlation between breast cancer and abortion, the Abortion Guide states, “Exhaustive research has concluded that individuals who have had an abortion do not have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than those who have not had an abortion.”

However, the University failed to cite that the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute documentation shows that since 1957, 58 out of 74 (78%) research studies conducted in 22 countries confirmed an increased risk of breast cancer following an abortion. In one of the most recent studies conducted in China, a 44% increased risk of breast cancer was found after a woman had one induced abortion.

The misrepresentation of facts continues in the Abortion Guide when it calls abortion “one of the safest and most common medical procedures…with less than a 2% risk of complications….” However, it fails to note that in a Chicago Tribune investigation in 2011, “nearly 4,000 reports of abortion complications involving Illinois residents in 2009 were missing the required description.” TheTribune further uncovered six deaths, one in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2008, and 2009 – the majority of which the abortion industry could not confirm if it had reported the deaths to the State.

Chicago Tribune media report also confirms the 2012 death of Tonya Reaves that occurred following abortion complications at Chicago’s LaSalle Street Planned Parenthood. Additionally, it fails to alert women that in 1998, the Illinois Department of Public Health ceased regular inspections of Illinois abortion clinics resulting in some clinics going 11 years without a single health inspection.

While the misinformation in the guide continues far past what is numerated above, my point is clear. I invite the University of Chicago to heed its own advice posted within the Abortion Guide: “Providers who cannot set aside their own biases should refer to someone who can. Counselors should offer medically accurate and factual answers to questions….”

Women are intelligent, dignified, analytical persons. We deserve to be provided with accurate information that is void of a political or monetary agenda. I encourage all readers to join me in inviting the University of Chicago to return to its mission statement and empower women to “dig deeper, push further, and ask bigger questions” rather than spoon-feed women a one-sided political agenda.

Emily Zender is the new executive director of Illinois Right to Life.