Confusion over how pregnancy dates are measured is widespread – and is resulting in an uninformed debate about abortion limits

Most Americans don't know two vital facts about pregnancy, including the date of pregnancy and the length of a trimester — and that might matter as more states implement abortion restrictions.

Florida has passed a brand new law on May 1, 2024, which bans abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy a couple of exceptions – including documented rape, incest and saving the lifetime of the mother.

Florida joins the bulk Southern States who now have outright bans or extremely restrictive abortion laws enacted because the Supreme Court overturned Federal right to abortion in June 2022. Many of the restrictive laws ban abortions after a set variety of weeks.

Anti-abortion rights groups comparable to Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America have called for the six-week abortion ban the gold standard in abortion policy. Florida Republicans who support the bill have called it a reasonable compromise between an entire ban on abortion and few restrictions on abortion.

Some gynecologists explained that many ladies I don't even know they're pregnant six weeks. Research shows that girls On average, women discover they’re pregnant after five and a half weeks. About 23% don't know until the seventh week of pregnancy or later.

Do Americans, including those enacting six-week lockdowns, actually understand how pregnancy timing or dating works?

We are Scholars from Political Science, Gender and public opinion and are writing a book about public opinion on abortion after the Supreme Court struck down federal abortion rights in June 2022.

People walk as a group in front of water holding signs that read, “Keep abortion legal.”
People gather in Orlando during an illustration against Florida's latest six-week abortion ban on April 13, 2024.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

How does pregnancy work?

To gain insights into this topic, we developed some pregnancy questions and included them in a research survey at the top of September 2023. The survey included 1,356 respondents who were broadly representative of the U.S. population. The average age of the respondents was 46 years. Approximately 49% of those individuals were men, while 70% were white and 29% were college graduates. Meanwhile, 43% of them were Democrats and 38% were Republicans.

The first query asked respondents how pregnancies are dated. The right answer is that pregnancies are dated to the primary day of the lady's last menstrual period, which is commonly two to 3 weeks before conception.

The second query was about trimesters. Many Americans are accustomed to the term trimester and Surveys consistently show that Americans find first trimester abortion most acceptable. We asked Americans in the event that they knew roughly what number of weeks a trimester lasts. The correct answer is 13.

Americans' Pregnancy Knowledge

We found that only a 3rd of respondents knew easy methods to term a pregnancy. A majority – about 60% – incorrectly assumed that the pregnancy began at conception or within the weeks because the woman's last sexual activity. Less than 1 / 4 of respondents answered each pregnancy knowledge questions appropriately.

In our survey, we also asked respondents whether or not they supported a six-week abortion ban. Similar to others national surveysfind that almost all Americans oppose strict abortion restrictions – only 35% support six-week abortion bans.

Importantly, we discover that those that support a six-week abortion ban are significantly less likely than others to appropriately understand the timing of pregnancy. The statistically significant association between low knowledge concerning the timing of pregnancy and support for a six-week abortion ban also holds true in analyzes that account for potentially confounding variables.

Some anti-abortion lawmakers have shown her ignorance concerning the pregnancy Before.

For example, there’s a protracted history of some anti-abortion politicians falsely claiming this was the case very rare for a one that is raped to turn into pregnant. Our survey shows that a big proportion of abortion opponents lack knowledge concerning the basics of pregnancy.

A colorful poster reads, “Everyone loves someone who has an abortion,” and is surrounded by other papers on the wall.
Messages hang on the wall of a gaggle counseling room at a health clinic in Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A gender inequality

Perhaps unsurprisingly, women on this survey knew more about pregnancy than men. For example, the query of how pregnancies are terminated was answered appropriately by 43% of ladies, in comparison with only 23% of men. As noted above, the vast majority of Americans incorrectly consider that pregnancy is dated from conception, but significantly more men than women consider this to be true.

This finding is especially vital when considering the gender breakdown of the Florida state legislature that approved the six-week ban. Although we don't have data on these lawmakers' pregnancy knowledge, we all know that those that voted for the ban did so predominantly men.

Florida's six-week ban will make it much harder for anyone there to get abortions — and it should impact Floridians, too Neighbore states who want or need an abortion. In 2023, the closest abortion clinic was in Florida 6.4 million women live within the south. In 2023 around 7,700 women from other southern states, where abortion is now largely bannedShe traveled to Florida to have abortions.

Overall, our findings raise serious questions on whether Americans without medical training – much like those in our state legislatures – have the knowledge mandatory to control access to abortion.

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