One of the points that groups opposing abortion have long argued is that abortion has a negative effect on women’s lives, undermining relationships and mental health. It makes intuitive sense that ending an unwanted pregnancy could be traumatic, particularly for women who may have had mixed feelings about the pregnancy or who wished to carry the pregnancy to term. According to newly released study results, though, there is no evidence of post-abortion syndrome among the one in three women who have undergone an elective abortion in the United States.
Is Post-Abortion Trauma Syndrome Real?
In the group of studies, known collectively as the Turnaway Study, researchers looked at 1,000 women who sought abortions at 30 abortion clinics between 2008 and 2010. Some of the women underwent abortions, while others were turned away due to legal or other restrictions on abortion. This provided researchers with two study groups. Researchers conducted follow-up interviews with participants every six months after the study, and their data provides insight into the mental health effects of abortion.
Researchers didn’t find any significant differences in mental health between women who had abortions and those who did not. In both groups, depression tended to decrease over time. Women did experience a range of reactions to their abortions, from grief to relief, but the study does not suggest that women who seek abortions struggle with emotional well-being.
Other Findings From the Turnaway Study
The Turnaway Study’s findings weren’t limited to the mental health effects of abortion. Researchers also tracked how abortion affected relationships. Women in abusive relationships saw a decrease in violence following an abortion, while women who carried their pregnancies to term were more likely to experience an increase in abuse. The study’s authors argue that this is because pregnancy tied women to abusive partners, leaving little hope of escape.
Abortion didn’t undermine other romantic relationships, contrary to popular wisdom. Researchers found that two years later, women in both groups were equally likely to still be with their romantic partners. About one in three women in both groups were still involved with the same partner.
You can learn more about the Turnaway Study on its website. Researchers will continue conducting research and analyzing data through the end of 2015.
- Foster, D. G. (2014, October 1). Understanding the consequences of abortion. Retrieved from http://blogs.biomedcentral.com/bmcblog/2014/09/29/understanding-the-consequences-of-abortion/
- McDonough, K. (2014, September 29). Study on reproductive rights and domestic violence: Being denied an abortion “tethered women to violent men”. Retrieved from http://www.salon.com/2014/09/29/study_on_reproductive_rights_and_domestic_violence_being_denied_an_abortion_tethered_women_to_violent_men/
- Turnaway study. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.ansirh.org/research/turnaway.php
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