Women denied abortions: five year study looks at the after-effects

The “Turnaway Study” follows a group of women who received abortions and a group who were denied them due to local laws and looks at their mental, physical and financial well-being to see the impact of being unable to get an abortion. Those who feel abortion should be legal probably won’t be surprised at the results. Those who think it should be illegal probably won’t be surprised either, but I do expect them to assert the “but facts and data cannot get in the way of my ideology” argument, and so comments engaging in this fallacy will be… well, aborted.

The study is in its fourth year, but they’ve begun to release their findings so far:

  • Most women were seeking abortions because they knew they couldn’t afford to raise a child.
  • Women denied abortions were far more likely to require public assistance, be unemployed (how can you work with a newborn to take care of and no money for daycare?) and/or be living in poverty after giving birth.
  • Women denied abortions are more likely to stay in abusive relationships, but “this wasn’t because the turnaways were more likely to get into abusive relationships. It was simply that getting abortions allowed women to get out of such relationships more easily. So it’s likely that these numbers actually reflect a dropoff in domestic violence for women who get abortions, rather than a rise among turnaways.” Abusive partners frequently keep women tied to them by threatening to get custody of the child if the woman attempts to leave him. Abuse victims believe it because it’s so common for judges to simply not believe claims of domestic violence in custody battles could be anything but nasty lies by vindictive women.
  • Only 11% of women gave their babies up for adoption, which is interesting since that’s the placebo anti-choicers have always offered.

And then there’s the long-standing claim that abortions cause depression. The study found that women who got abortions reported relief and other positive feelings. Many also experienced some guilt or sadness, but those feelings faded away over a short time. Those who did not receive abortions, however, reported statistically significant increases in anxiety. Being a parent is hugely stressful when you were prepared for it. When you’re unprepared, it really tests the limits.

And of course, women who didn’t receive abortions could have health issues relating to pregnancy and childbirth (there are many, Joe Walsh, and some of them last a lifetime) while the women who received abortions did not experience any significant health issues. Additionally, they found that even late stage abortions were safer than childbirth, which contradicts another myth the pro-choicers have spread.

The study will continue for a few more years, and more findings will be reported. It will also be looking at how the children fare. But so far, the results are just not surprising: abortion does not harm women, and often it ensures better mental, physical and financial well-being. At the very least, it’s hard to avoid the logical conclusions that if you want to make abortion illegal, you should ensure that your government covers the costs of raising the resulting children and treating the anxiety the unprepared mother experiences.

Hat tip to guest writer Amy McCabe, who pointed this out to me.


  1. SunlessNick says

    Only 11% of women gave their babies up for adoption, which is interesting since that’s the placebo anti-choicers have always offered.

    That’s only really an offer per se up until the point where they grind her down into not having an abortion. After that, it takes over the role of “evading consequences, you irresponsible slut.”

  2. Cheryl says

    When I click the link to look at the findings, I get ‘Page Not Found’.

    The only findings I’m surprised by are the low percentage of women who chose to give up the baby for adoption. It would seem like if a woman isn’t ready for a child (for whatever reason), she’d be inclined to put the baby up for adoption if she chooses not to have/can’t get an abortion. Those who lurve mothers just so very, very much (please excuse the dripping sarcasm) should be celebrating. When they’re done doing that, then they can get busy collaborating on how they are going to assist those mothers (and couples) with all the costs and necessary services related to raising a child.

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