Women are currently required to receive counseling after an abortion because of assumed negative psychological effects.
With many women being offered counseling after abortion procedures due to the negative emotional effect, a new study has found women choosing to have an abortion are more likely to feel it was the right decision and therefore are not necessarily suffering mentally as a consequence.
Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco conducted a massive study looking into the negative psychological effects of abortions on 1,000 women. The study found women were actually more likely to suffer from stress and negative wellbeing if they are denied an abortion rather than going through with the procedure.
The study is an ongoing part of the Turnaway Study which looks at examining the effects of unintended pregnancy on women’s lives. The women involved all sought abortions and were interviewed 11 times throughout the process – once a week after seeking an abortion and once every six months for five years after the decision. The women who experienced the most anxiety and mental stress were those that were turned down for an abortion while those who went through with the procedure reported higher life satisfaction, less anxiety and depression. For all the women involved any depression that appeared at the beginning dropped over the course of the study.
“There are policies and decisions being made with this assumption that abortion harms women’s mental health,” says study author M. Antonia Biggs, a social psychologist researcher at UCSF. “We found that the women who were denied abortions had more anxiety, lower self esteem, and less life satisfaction compared to women who [obtained them initially].”
The current policy is that women in 22 states who undergo abortions are required to be counseled for possible negative emotional wellbeing. Nine of these states focus solely on only potential negative effects.
“[We] would expect the women who have an abortion to have increasing depression and anxiety over time, but instead we don’t see that. Women denied an abortion have more anxiety, lower self-esteem, less life satisfaction than women who are able to get an abortion. But by six months to a year, they’re similar to women who had an abortion.”
Details of the study were published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.