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Although it is impossible to know exactly what will happen in case of abortion access Rowe v. Wade Conversely, demographer Diana Green Foster knows what happens when someone is denied an abortion. She documented this in her groundbreaking year-long research project, The Turnway Study, and her findings provide insight into how abortion – or denial – affects a person’s mental health and economic well-being.
For more than 10 years, said. Foster and his team of researchers tracked the experiences of aborted women or those who were denied due to clinical policy regarding the gestational age limit.
The research team regularly interviewed about 1,000 women, each over a five-year period, and found that people deprived of abortion experienced worse economic and mental health outcomes than the care group. And 95% of study participants who had an abortion said they made the right decision.
The idea for the Turnaway Study stems from a 2007 Supreme Court abortion case, Gonzalez vs. Carhart. In the opinion of the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy assumed that abortion leads to poor mental health while maintaining restrictions on a specific procedure rarely used in subsequent abortions. “While we can’t find any reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems exceptional that some women seem to have come to regret their choice to cancel the life of the child they created and perpetuated,” she wrote. “Severe depression and loss of self-esteem.”
Kennedy’s assumptions – and acknowledging the lack of evidence – drew Foster’s attention, “because you can’t make a policy based on assumptions that are reasonable without talking to a representative sample of people who actually wanted an abortion,” he said. The Turnway Study Fact-Checked Judgment Assumptions, found No. Having a preferred abortion was more likely to lead to mental health outcomes than the one she described.
The study was completed in 2016, and did not assess the effects of existing abortion restrictions on patients or anticipate the future. Rowe vs. Wade Conversely, it also does not address the experience of transgender and non-binary people seeking abortion care, with Foster suspecting that women may face more significant access barriers than those who were returned.
Foster spoke to NPR Short wave About the study and its relevance today.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Who participated in The Turnway Study? How did the study compare women to people who usually want to have an abortion?
The sample was seen as closely related to the national abortion population. So 60% of women were already mothers. About half of them were in their 20s, which is normal. About three-quarters were already below the federal poverty level when they sought abortion.
The only real difference is that they tend to be later in pregnancy because we recruited them closer to the gestational age. And I think before I started this research I had an idea, that people who want an abortion after pregnancy will be a little different … and it turned out to be a complete lie. People who wanted to have an abortion after pregnancy were not significantly different from people who wanted to have an abortion before, except that they realized much later that they were pregnant ….
What did you learn about the lives of women who denied abortion after five years of conversation?
We see a few areas where their lives dramatically differ in results [from women who got abortions]. The first is health. Consistent with the medical literature, abortion and childbirth are far more physically risky than abortion, even subsequent abortions. We see many more serious physical health complications from birth, the saddest of which are two women who died after childbirth – one died of an infection and one died of a very common pregnancy complication.
The other difference we see is socio-economic well-being. It’s not just about poverty, although we see that people without abortions are more likely to live in families where there is not enough money for basic necessities of life … Is. Whether they have had or have had an abortion, their relationship has an equal chance.
But those who get abortion reports have a higher quality of relationship. So it is changing the basic aspects of human life, including the opportunity to have children later in a better situation.
And what did you find? For those women Was Able to get an abortion?
For those who have had an abortion, and for both groups, we see better mental health over time, as mental health improves over time, compared to those who do. And I think that’s because the experience of an unwanted pregnancy is associated with serious anxiety and distress. And people improve over time …
Abortion does not cause depression or anxiety, but it can cause emotional reactions. And so we asked people about six emotions … happiness, sadness, regret, relief, anger and guilt … and what we learned is that positive emotions surpass negative emotions, but a significant number of people have negative emotions about it. .
People may feel emotional remorse and may still feel that they have made the right decision about having an abortion. So: “I’m sorry I was in the position where I needed an abortion. But I was that, I’m glad I got it.” And they may feel sad, and sadness is different from sadness. So people have a range of emotional reactions, and over time, people say that having strong positive emotions and having strong negative emotions, both decrease over time and people tell us that they stop thinking about abortion. One woman told us “I think about it when you call me for this interview.”
So the idea that somehow this phenomenon is disrupting human life forever – is not true for most people. It’s something that people say they need to do, and they’ve done it and moved on with their lives.
Have you noticed any differences between women whose decisions had the support of their family, friends or community?
My colleague, social psychologist Antonia Biggs, has analyzed mental health data … to summarize who is actually experiencing some mental health problems over time, and it is inconsistent with those who report that they experience a lot of stigma surrounding abortion. But I should keep in mind that this is a rare, and very big predictor of poor mental health is a history of childhood abuse and neglect.
What effect does abortion denial have on families who already have children?
I think it’s often surprising that those who don’t think much about abortion are often parents who want an abortion. Nationally, 60 percent of people who have had an abortion say they are already a mother, and the reason they want to have an abortion is that they need to take care of the children they already have. And when we look at the well-being of those existing babies, we see the difference based on whether their mother had an abortion or denied it for their next pregnancy. So mothers of children who have been deprived of abortion are less likely to achieve developmental milestones such as language and overall motor, fine motor skills.
What this study adds to the discussion Rowe vs. Wade?
The Turnway Study wasn’t designed with this moment in mind, because in my worst nightmare, I never imagined we would see the end of it. Rowe So fast But what the The Turnway Study shows is that people who become pregnant and are unable to perform safe, legal abortions in their state, those who carry the pregnancy for a longer period of time will face long-term physical health and economic loss. We have not become a liberal country that supports low-income mothers. And so those results are still the results that people will feel when they deny a desired abortion.
What the Turnway Study does not answer about the present time is that many people may violate their state laws and they will not carry that pregnancy in term and they will travel to nearby or distant states or they will order drug abortion online pill and they get an abortion Will manage. And some people will try dangerous things and potentially harm themselves. And so we don’t really know the full impact of this decision.
NPR’s Rebecca Ramirez created the audio version of this interview for Short Wave.