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These Photos of Early Pregnancy Tissue Challenge Common Myths About Abortion

Do you actually know what tissue from a terminated pregnancy looks like? A new op-ed from The New York Times is proving once and for all that abortions look nothing like what we’ve been told.

In honor of what should have been Roe v. Wade‘s 50th anniversary, primary care doctors Erika Bliss, Joan Fleischman, and Michele Gomez — co-founders of the organization MYAbortion Network and abortion providers themselves — authored an op-ed with real images of early pregnancy tissue. The photos depict fragments of a patient’s uterine lining and gestational sacs from five through nine weeks of pregnancy, when the vast majority of abortions in America are performed.

Surprise, surprise: Contrary to what anti-abortion activists would have you believe, the tissue does not resemble a human fetus at all.

In the piece, Fleischman, a New York-based provider, recalled showing one of her patients, Jewel, the early pregnancy tissue from her procedure. “I thought you were going to bring in something that was shaped like a little fetus or something, and it was not that at all,” Jewel told her.

This type of reaction is all too common, the trio of doctors explained. Last October, The Guardian also published images of early pregnancy tissue from MYAbortion Network. “Many people, even those who support abortion rights, did not believe the photos were accurate,” Bliss, Fleishman, and Gomez wrote. “A Stanford gynecologic pathologist has validated our photos, but many people could not believe the pictures were presented unaltered.

“It’s important to us to counter medical misinformation related to early pregnancy because about 80 percent of abortions in the United States occur at nine weeks or earlier,” they continued. “So much of the imagery that people see about abortion comes from abortion opponents who have spent decades spreading misleading fetal imagery to further their cause.”

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Bliss, Fleishman, and Gomez felt it was extra important now that Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that protected abortion access nationwide for nearly 50 years, is no longer in effect. In a shocking loss for reproductive rights, Roe was overturned last June, meaning state lawmakers can now decide whether to restrict or outlaw abortions.

“In many ways, medical care related to abortion has never been more straightforward,” the three doctors concluded. “And we know abortion is an important part of primary care and could be widely available in mainstream practice settings — if the [reversal of Roe] hadn’t suddenly thrust many of our colleagues in states across the country into jeopardy. … Ensuring that our patients, colleagues and the general public have clear, objective information about abortion is critical for patients to get the care they deserve.

As Axios reports, 17 states have now restricted or banned abortions. Among them is Texas, where Jewel, Fleischman’s patient, traveled from to obtain the procedure safely and legally.

Sadly, she is not alone. According to a JAMA study published last November, nearly one-third of pregnant Americans now have to travel more than an hour away to reach their nearest abortion provider.

“So glad to see images of what early pregnancy/abortion look like in The New York Times,” tweeted writer and reproductive justice activist Jessica Valenti. “This is what Republicans want to have more rights than [pregnant people].”

Before you go, read these powerful stories from celebrities who’ve opened up about their abortion stories:

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