Tabi Jackson Gee | Contributing Writer | Thursday, 10 December 2015

What Happens To A Woman After She\\\'s Denied An Abortion?

What Happens To A Woman After She's Denied An Abortion?

The Debrief: A new study actually bothered to find out.

Any ‘pro-life’ campaigner will happily tell you about the apparent side effects abortion can have on a woman – the dangers of the procedure, the anxiety it might cause, the regret they may feel. What’s less talked about, and less documented is the way a woman who’s been denied the procedure is affected.

That’s why the University of California commissioned the Turnaway Study, which aims to shed some light on what happens to a woman after she’s been turned away from an abortion clinic. One thousand women were recruited when they sought an abortion and were interviewed one week later, then twice a year for five more years.

‘Because of the ideological controversies over abortion, and the difficulties of study design, there’s little quality research on the physical and social consequences of unintended pregnancy for women,’ explains the study, which comes to an end this month, with more in-depth analysis of the results due in the new year.

But their findings are already proving interesting because they combat arguments that abortions leave a woman worse off than they’d have been had they not been permitted it.

‘When you ask women why they want an abortion, they tell you that they want it because they don’t have enough money to raise a child, that their relationship with the man involved isn’t good, and that they need to take care of the kids they already have,’ one of the lead researchers Diane Foster told Tech Insider.

‘The data that shows that women do not regret their abortions and that they’re making decisions that are good for them will be reassuring.’

Here’s a few things they’ve found so far:

  1. Women not permitted an abortion suffered far more anxiety following the refusal than those who were.
  2. Giving birth is more dangerous than having an abortion. In the US, you’re 14 times more likely to die in childbirth than during an abortion.
  3. Often the women seeking abortions were in abusive relationships. ‘Terminating an unwanted pregnancy may allow women to avoid physical violence from the man involved in the pregnancy, while having a baby from an unwanted pregnancy appears to result in sustained physical violence over time,’ the researchers said. 

The pro-choice campaigners protesting in Dublin today might not need a study to tell you what women face there if they don’t get the abortion they need, but the more people who understand both the long- and short-term effects of unwanted pregnancies, the better.

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Tags: Abortion