Some of America’s most onerous abortion restrictions are premised on the idea that women are likely to regret terminating their pregnancies – an idea that has no basis in reality, according to a new study by the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at UC San Francisco’s School of Medicine.
After tracking 670 women from diverse social backgrounds for three years following their abortions, researchers found that over 95% believed they had made the right decision.
The report found that women who had abortions after the first trimester were no more likely to regret the procedure than those who aborted early in their pregnancies.
In 35 states, women are legally required to undergo counseling before they can access an abortion. In seven of those states, counselors are required to inform women of the correlation between mental health problems and abortion, despite the absence of scientific evidence establishing such a link.
The study did find that 25% of women experienced “primarily negative emotions over one week post-abortion,” but for 95% of women, these feelings proved temporary and did not alter their belief that the procedure was the right choice.
Women who felt their communities stigmatized abortion as well as those who ended pregnancies that were planned-typically after discovering fetal health defects-were more likely to experience negative emotions.
Thus, the report suggests that if states wish to prevent women from suffering psychological stress related to their abortions, they should attempt to decrease stigma around the procedure, rather than promoting it through mandatory, medically unsupported counseling.