November 15, 2012

the turnaway study

*according to this new study, this woman is very wrong.

One of the hypotheticals that is always touched on in reproductive rights discussions is what would happen if we simply did not allow women to have abortions?  Well, the Turnaway study from San Francisco-based research group Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), investigated that question and just presented their first results.  
There's a great overview on the Slate XX blog to check out.

In brief, the group followed over 1000 women across the country who went to have abortions.  Most were able to obtain abortions (97% had no regret), but almost 200 women were not able to have abortions, usually because they were farther along in their pregnancies than the places they went to have abortions would perform the procedure.  The researchers interviewed these women extensively and compared them with the group who was able to obtain abortions.  

A few (of the many) things worth mentioning:

1. women not able to have abortions were more likely to be financially struggling a year later.
Compared to the group who did have abortions, a year later (the study is ongoing) those who were "turned away" were more likely to be on government assistance, living beneath the poverty line, and less likely to be working full time.  

2. women not able to have abortions were more stressed.
They also reported more stress and were equally as likely to be depressed as the other group of women (as in, no happier).  

3. women not able to have abortions had more medical problems.
Including pregnancy complications and postpartum complications (abortion is almost always safer than pregnancy, as is birth control).  

4. women not able to have abortions were more likely to be victims of domestic abuse.
The researchers attribute this not to the "turn-aways" being more likely to enter into abusive relationships, but being less able to get out of them while pregnant/with a new baby.  But this didn't mean that men were more likely to stick around - they found that "men were no more likely to live with a turnaway who'd borne their children than they were to live with a woman who had an abortion".

This study is excellent data to add to the discussion of women's reproductive rights - showing that the consequences of our reproductive choices are far-reaching and longer lasting than just 9 months.


"As women's access to abortion care...becomes increasingly restricted, it is extremely important to document the effect of unintended pregnancy on women and their families.  The Turnaway Study is an effort to capture women's stories, understand the role of abortion in women's lives, and contribute to the ongoing public policy debate on the mental health and life course consequences of abortion and unwanted childbearing for women."

- taken from the Turnaway study website, under Why this study is Important

(*I copied this image from the Slate XX blog review of the turnaway study, because it was just so good)

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