95 percent of women who choose to abort consider the choice right even after three to five years after the decision.
A study conducted under the aegis of the larger Turnaway study of the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) group, delivered a blow to the long-standing stereotyping associated with abortion: women are ridden with grief and inherent shame.
Quite to the contrary, the study results published in the PLOS One journal come to challenge these emotional arguments upheld by opponents of abortion.
ANSIRH is collaborating with the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health of the University of California at San Francisco.
According to the ANSIRH website, Turnaway looks at women who become pregnant unintentionally and consider abortion, with a specific focus on:
“mental health, physical health, and socioeconomic consequences of receiving an abortion compared to carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term”.
The data gathered for this study spanned the period from January 2008 to December 2010. In this time frame, 1000 women visited 30 abortion clinics across the U.S.. From here, the researchers recruited participants for the Turnaway study.
They received interviews both during the original visit at the abortion facility, as well as follow-up questions over a period of five years, every six months. The women were divided into three groups:
the first group chose abortion in the first trimester
the second group sought abortion in the last minute. A maximum of two weeks before the legal limit of abortion. Depending on the state, this can be between 10 and 26 weeks.
the third group missed the deadline. The women in this group were denied abortion – titular turnaway.
This study focused particularly on the first and second group. The last follow-up interview is dated February 2014. Of the 1,000 women in the large study, 667 women participated in the current one.
The authors wrote:
“Women in this study overwhelmingly felt that the decision was the right one for them: at all time points over three years, 95 percent of participants reported abortion was the right decision, with the typical participant having a greater than 99 percent chance of reporting the abortion decision was right for her”.
In addition, the women were found to experience a lower intensity of emotions as time passed by. Negativity was replaced by relief and confidence as the choice for abortion was deemed right. The researchers stated that there was no difference in the intensity of emotions between women in the first group and women in the second group.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, rather than the choice of abortion affecting the emotional state of the women and inflicting negativity, it was the related societal stigma and consequently the lower social support that drove negative emotions.
Women from both groups involved in either working at the time or studying were less prone to negative emotions than their peers.
This study as well as the larger Turnaway study should deter attention from the largely help stereotypes and steer it towards more effective policies supporting the choice to abort, avoiding social stigma.
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