Study finds one-third of women seeking abortions get misleading info

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NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Women in many U.S. states are given misleading information in state-issued brochures when they seek abortions, such as characterizations of fetal and embryonic development, according to a study released on Monday.

Thirty-one U.S. states require women to be given informational packets ahead of getting an abortion in a practice known as informed consent, according to the study by researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Their findings come just days before the U.S Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in its first abortion case in nearly a decade.

Looking at brochures issued in 23 of those 31 U.S. states, the researchers said they found nearly a third of the information to be medically inaccurate. The brochures are authored by and required by the states.

Based on those findings, the researchers estimated that nationwide, 35 percent of women having abortions were given information exaggerating the development of fetuses and embryos.

For example, a Wisconsin brochure said a 20-week-old fetus "may feel pain" and a North Carolina pamphlet said fetuses between weeks 12 and 14 had fully formed lips and noses and have fingernails beginning to form, the study said.

Such characterizations are incorrect, the researchers said.

"Misinformation is a threat to the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship and to the medical system as a whole," said Cynthia Daniels, the study's lead author and a professor who heads Rutgers's Informed Consent Project.

"This study shows the problems that occur when politicians intervene into the doctor-patient relationship," she said.

The nation's highest court on Wednesday is scheduled to hear challenges to a 2013 law in Texas that requires doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and for clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers.

Critics say the Texas law is unnecessary, superfluous and expensive and creates an undue burden on women seeking abortions.

Abortion has been legal in the United States since 1973.

The study found that the U.S. states with the worst records regarding the medical accuracy of their brochures were North Carolina, Michigan and Kansas.

Worldwide, about three in 10 countries allow abortions on request or for any reason, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center analysis, although many prohibit procedures after a certain point in the pregnancy.

(Reporting by Sebastien Malo, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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Study finds one-third of women seeking abortions get misleading info
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: Activists participate in the 2016 March for Life January 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. The annual event marked the anniversary of the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Pro-abortion activists gather in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, 0n January 22, 2016 as the country marks the 43rd anniversary of the Roe v Wasde Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion. / AFP / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
A young anti-abortion activist chants slogans during a march to the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, 0n January 22, 2016 as the country marks the 43rd anniversary of the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion. / AFP / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-abortion demonstrators take part in a rally, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
An anti-abortion demonstrator holds a sign and a flower while cheering during a rally, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Right to Life advocates pray during a sit-in in front of a proposed Planned Parenthood location while demonstrating the group's opposition to congressional funding of Planned Parenthood on September 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Right to Life groups who took part in the protest are also calling on Pope Francis to 'address the pro-life issue and the defunding of Planned Parenthood' when he addresses Congress on September 24. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: Assembly of some 150 anti-abortion protesters behind barricade in front of Planned Parenthood. A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: U.S. Capitol Police stand guard after pro-choice activists blocked the street and temporarily stopped the annual March for Life in front of the U.S. Supreme Court January 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pro-life activists gathered in the nation's capital to mark the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: A pro-life activist holds a sign as he participates in the annual March for Life January 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pro-life activists gathered in the nation's capital to mark the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: Pro-choice activists shout slogans before the annual March for Life passes by the U.S. Supreme Court January 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pro-life activists gathered in the nation's capital to mark the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: Pro-life activists participate in the annual March for Life as they pass in front of the U.S. Capitol January 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pro-life activists gathered in the nation's capital to mark the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: Pro-life activists try to block pro-choice activists as the annual March for Life passes by in front of the U.S. Supreme Court January 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pro-life activists gathered in the nation's capital to mark the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: Pro-choice activists block the street and temporarily stop the annual March for Life in front of the U.S. Supreme Court January 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pro-life activists gathered in the nation's capital to mark the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
A pro-choice activists holds a placard in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, January 22, 2015, as she and others await the pro-choice activists with the March For Life. Tens of thousands of Americans who oppose abortion are in Washington for the annual March for Life, marking the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-choice activists block the road against US Capitol Police, who are escorting the March For Life's path, in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, January 22, 2015. Tens of thousands of Americans who oppose abortion are in Washington for the annual March for Life, marking the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A pro-choice activist is arrested and carried away by US Capitol police after blocking the road against the March For Life's path in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, January 22, 2015. Tens of thousands of Americans who oppose abortion are in Washington for the annual March for Life, marking the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: Anti-abortion advocates stage a 'die-in' protest at Lafayette Square near the White House January 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. In a written statement on Tuesday, the Obama administration denounced a GOP-backed bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks and suggested the President would veto H. R. 36 - Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act if the bill reached his desk. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Anti-abortion activists take part in the annual 'March for Life' rally on January 22, 2015 in Washington DC. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 30: Anti-abortion advocates cheer in front of the Supreme Court after the decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores was announced June 30, 2014 in Washington, DC. The high court ruled 5-4 that requiring family-owned corporations to pay for insurance coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act violated a federal law protecting religious freedom. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 26: Pro-life activists gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court June 26, 2014 in Washington, DC. The court overturned today a Massachusetts law barring protests within 35 feet of abortion clinics. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 26: Pro-life activists gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court June 26, 2014 in Washington, DC. The court overturned today a Massachusetts law barring protests within 35 feet of abortion clinics. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Supporters of Women's Rights and LGBT groups protest across from the Beverly Hills Hotel, owned by the Sultan of Brunei, demanding he rescind a Taliban-like Brunei penal code which included the stoning to death of gay men and lesbians and the public flogging of women who have abortions, on May 5 2014 in Beverly Hills, California, before the arrival of Jay Leno who spoke in support of the groups. The southeast Asian nation of Brunei, a would-be member of the Obama administrations Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, is under fire from Hollywood and human rights activists for adopting a brutal penal code based on Sharia law with punishments including flogging, dismemberment and death by stoning for crimes such as adultery and sodomy. AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
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