The Turnaway Study is unique in that it focuses on what happens in a woman’s life when she is refused an abortion. Essentially placing the results of conservative, anti-women’s rights overreach, under a microscope.
It seems a common line among those who would do away with women’s reproductive rights is that women suffer after undergoing an abortion.
Recent findings presented by the Turnaway Study, however, have found that it is worse for a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term than it is for her to have an abortion.
From 2008-2010, the study, conducted by the University of California San Francisco‘s Advancing New Studies in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) examined the lives of 1,000 women recruited from 30 different facilities across the country. All of the women were seeking abortions. Some of the women received them, while others were refused because their pregnancies were determined beyond the gestational limit set by the clinic or their state.
As part of the study, participants were interviewed by phone every six months over the course of five years, ending in December 2015. The interviews covered every aspect of the women’s lives, including health, employment, education, relationships, and beyond.
The Turnaway Study was unique in that it focused on women who were forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. In the past, similar studies compared women who had abortions with those who carried wanted or intended pregnancies to term.
The study comes at time in which we see women’s rights come under real threat as Donald Trump has vowed to fill a vacant United States Supreme Court seat with a justice who will help to overturn Roe v. Wade.
It is in regards to women’s reproductive lives where one can see “small government” Republicans become enormous, nanny-state authoritarians. The massive regulation of women and their bodies, and their personal and reproductive lives, is overwhelming and would seem comical — if it weren’t such a hazard to women’s safety and well-being. A quick google search reveals scores of various, over-lapping, tedious, often insulting and invasive state-imposed rules and regulations governing every inch of a woman’s reproductivity. The most recent being the 20-week abortion ban signed by “moderate” Republican John Kasich.
The Turnaway Study is valuable in that it is, essentially, a study on the harm that conservative, anti-women’s rights overreach has on women, their lives and their families:
Early analyses suggest that women who carry unwanted pregnancies to term are more likely to be in poverty. We also know that women who are unable to obtain an abortion are more likely to stay tethered to abusive partners. There are also early indications that women have reason to worry about the impact of an unintended birth on that child as well as on their existing children. Women do not cite concerns for their own health as frequently in their reasons for wanting to end a pregnancy, but we know that childbirth is much more dangerous for women than having an abortion and we see that in the Turnaway data that shows that women denied abortion have greater short-term morbidity than women who are able to access abortion care.
Recently, researchers Corinne Rocca, PhD, and Dr. Foster have given us strong evidence that women are resilient when it comes to the emotions around ending a pregnancy. Despite the fact that women feel a range of emotions about their abortion experience, predominately relief, although some regret and sadness as well, almost all women, including those who have mostly negative emotions believe that abortion was the right decision for them over the long-term. In addition we see absolutely no link between abortion and adverse mental health outcomes like depression.
Considering the Republican’s lack of support for affordable and accessible contraception and women’s health resources, it is clear that the largely old, conservative, white-male-led march against women’s reproductive rights stems from a disdain of women having the audacity to put their lives, their needs and wants, first.
Being denied an abortion, a medical procedure, you either want or need for any reason, is damaging. It is demoralizing and, as this study reflects, causes harm down the road.