Abortion impacts mental health, but not in the way you think
People feel all sorts of things after they have abortions
One of the most popular claims of those perpetuating abortion stigma (which we know isn't limited to anti-choicers - those who advocate for abortion access also fall into the trap of stigmatizing abortion) is the idea that those who have abortions are riddled with regret, and that abortion will destroy one's mental health.
The reality, of course, is that people feel all sorts of things after they have abortions, but thanks to The Turnaway Study - landmark research conducted by Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) - we now have evidence that what actually results in mental health challenges is not being able to access abortion care. Here's what to know about the study.
- It recruited 1,000 women seeking abortions across the US from 2008-2010.
- These women were interviewed over a period of 5 years, ending in January 2016.
- Researchers followed two groups: those who sought abortion care and received it, and those who sought abortion care and didn't get it (the "turnaways").
- 95% of those able to access the abortion they sought reported that they did not regret it over five years later.
- Those who were denied the abortion they sought were more likely to stay with abusive partners, as well as suffer from anxiety and low self-esteem.
- Those who were denied abortion care were four times more likely to live below the Federal Poverty Level.
- The children of those denied abortion care were also more likely to live below the Federal Poverty Level and to have lower child development scores.
According to Dr. Diana Greene Foster, the lead researcher on the study, it wasn't conceived with the end of Roe v. Wade in mind. Now that we're here however, the revelation that not being able to access abortion has dire physical, mental, and economic consequences is even more vital to keep in mind in moving forward. The idea that abortion will make you depressed and keep you mired in lifelong guilt is one of the oldest of the abortion stigma tropes, and unfortunately, this study is not likely to change the minds of antis. But for those who put stock in science and want to expand abortion access, the Turnaway Study - which is currently available in book form - is a vital piece of research to have in our arsenal.