Myth Busted: Women Don’t Regret Abortions

4300051986_f6d912244d_oLast week, new data was published showing that more than 95 percent of women who’d had abortions felt the decision was right for them—immediately after termination and three years later.

Via semi-annual phone calls over a period of three years, Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, UC San Francisco’s think tank and reproductive well-being research group, collected responses from 667 women who chose to have abortions. The researchers found that over the course of the survey, positive emotions, such as relief, dominated negative ones. Further, the research shows no significant difference between women who had abortions in the first trimester and women who had them later, disproving the idea that late-term abortion causes higher levels of emotional stress.

The study is part of the think tank’s ongoing five-year prospective longitudinal study called the Turnaway Study. The goal of the project is to document the mental, physical and socioeconomic effects of abortion versus carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term by following women who got abortions, women who sought abortions but were denied them and women who had late-term abortions.

The Turnaway Study is the first of its kind in the United States, and was designed to fill a lack of research that paints a truly holistic picture of the effects of abortion and unintended pregnancy on women’s lives. According to the ANSRH, most research in the past has focused on finding out whether elective abortion directly causes depression and/or post-traumatic stress—often called “post-abortion syndrome,” a concept the center’s research clearly undermines.

Despite previous studies disproving its existence, the idea of “post-abortion syndrome” still persists today. The anti-choice phrase is used by lawmakers to justify restrictions, such as mandatory counseling and waiting periods, by wrongfully asserting that abortion can cause guilt, anxiety and depression. However, these laws are nothing more than medically unnecessary measures promoted under the guise of providing women with information. In reality, state-mandated lecture materials are biased, make claims based on distorted science and can pose significant risks to a woman’s health by fabricating stigma and harms.

Hopefully with this new scientific evidence, the idea of “post-abortion syndrome” will lose its bite for good. So take that lawmakers, your abortion myths just got busted; once again, we have sturdy research to show that women don’t regret abortions.

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Photo courtesy of Flickr user Dave Fayram licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.

IMG_2118Kat Kucera is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying Women’s and Gender Studies and Comparative Literature. She is currently a Ms. editorial intern based in Los Angeles.


  1. It’s been over 40 years since my abortion, and I have never had a single regret.

  2. It’s been nearly 30 years and for 30 years I have regretted it every second of my life. I doubt I will ever be able to forgive myself. It was horrific and really did change my life in a very negative way. I am still pro choice, only because women need reproductive rights to be free, but I will always share my story if someone asks me. I do think there is trauma for many more women than we think, we need to be honest about that and not try to hide it. It will only make it worse on those of us who feel Such shame and guilt.

  3. I had one 17 years ago, only after that did I experience depression for the first time…i had my son 2 years later but even so the despair and guilt sat heavy upon me. It took a good 10 years searching and finally finding the healing I needed to let go. I am not a religious person and consider myself strong and independent. I did receive counselling before and after, so I was surprised by how much having that abortion shook me.

  4. I had an abortion in Mexico in 1967, and still know it was the right decision for me. I am now 70 years old. It was not legal in the US then so Mexico was the only choice. My mother went with me. I developed a very bad infection afterwards. Desperate women do desperate things, regardless of the law. Legal abortions are safer by far.

  5. You should do your research before writing an article like this. Almost 63% of the women first approached to participate in the study, refused to do so. Also, 15% dropped out either before or during the first interview. What does that tell you? It seems more likely that those participating (less than 32%) had no problem with their decision, and the sample used in the study wasn’t a quality sample.

  6. Two abortions, zero regrets, and still fighting for safe, legal, morality-free abortion.

  7. I call bullshit on this article and the ‘study’ on which its based. Try doing a survey at the five year mark and then the ten year mark. Between that the frame is when most women start to feel regret. I know I did, and it’s based on the fact that most of these women go on to have other kids and discover that being a parent is challenging, yes, but it’s not impossible. They start to realize that maybe, just maybe, they would have been ok with the baby that they aborted.

    • I agree with April. I have met at least dozens of women that regret their abortion. I made the mistake of having an abortion as a teenager and it is the biggest regret of my life – ever – and I have done a lot of stupid things. Being a mother made it sad, knowing that one of my children is missing and was no less precious. But, like you said, it took me years to realize it.
      Its like I read, “Regret of a permanent decision is like watching a sad movie over and over again hoping the ending will change – but it never will.”

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