Myth Busted: Women Don’t Regret Abortions

Last 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.

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



Kat 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.