Study: Huge majority of women who had abortions say they made the right decision

Study: Huge majority of women who had abortions say they made the right decision
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A huge majority of women who had abortions said they made the right decision, according to a new study.

The study published Sunday in the journal Social Science & Medicine found that 95 percent of the women surveyed believed immediately after their abortion that going through with it was the right choice. Researchers asked that question five years later to the same women, and 99 percent of them said abortion was the right call.

Researchers from the University of California at San Francisco surveyed 667 women from 21 states over a five-year period about their emotions associated with their abortions, starting one week after their procedure and twice yearly after that. They found that the intensity of both positive and negative emotions faded over time, according to the Post.

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About 51 percent of women expressed mostly positive emotions the week after the procedure, compared to 17 percent feeling mostly negative, 12 percent feeling a mix and 20 percent feeling no emotion, according to the study. At the five-year point, 84 percent of women expressed either mostly positive emotions or no emotions, while 6 percent felt mostly negative about their procedure.

At all points throughout the study, relief was the most typical emotion.

“For years … there has been a belief promulgated or a claim made that we really need to protect women from the emotional harm that many of them will suffer from when having an abortion,” lead author Corrine Rocca told The Guardian. “There was no evidence ever to say that was actually true.”

The results come at a time when several states enforce required abortion counseling and waiting periods, informing women of the negative emotional response associated with the procedure.

The study is a part of the Turnaway Study, a research project about how abortion affects women physically, socially, emotionally and economically, The Washington Post reported. These results aligned with a previous 2015 study from the project that found 95 percent of 667 women over a three-year period said abortion was the right move for them.

An anti-abortion activist David C. Reardon wrote in a 2018 paper that the sample for the research is unrepresentative, with two-thirds of the women approached refusing to participate and half of those who agreed dropping out, according to the Post. He argued those with the most positive emotions were more likely to remain in the study. 

The authors responded to the criticism by saying their response rate aligned with other studies on a “stigmatized” health service.