A recent study confirms what many feminists already knew to be true: hardly any women regret having an abortion. This conclusion comes after a three-year research period involving over 600 women of all social backgrounds, which showed that 95 percent of women who have had abortions do not regret the decision to terminate their pregnancies.
Researchers from the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at UC San Francisco’s School of Medicine carried out the study, and it was published last week in the multidisciplinary academic journal PLOS ONE.
The sample group was diverse on the matter of what the study calls “pregnancy and abortion circumstances.” 40 percent of women stated “financial considerations” as the reason for an abortion, while 36 percent decided it was “not the right time.” The study also noted that 26 percent of women found the decision very or somewhat easy, and 53 percent found it very or somewhat difficult.
The authors of the study concluded that the “overwhelming majority” of the women participating in the study felt that abortion had been the right decision “both in the short-term and over three years.”
These results are important because they could prompt positive change in the political arena because they statistically disprove a common claim from anti-abortion campaigners that women who have abortions “suffer emotionally as a result.”
The study also deserves praise for its carefulness to avoid generalizations, something often not considered when discussing the topic of abortion. According to the study, “Certainly, experiencing feelings of guilt or regret in the short-term after an abortion is not a mental health problem; in fact, such emotions are a normal part of making a life decision that many women in this study found to be difficult.”
Perhaps the most gripping conclusions from the study were the two major factors cited by the small percentage of women who did feel significant regret post-abortion. Women who felt long-term guilt and regret stated a lack of social support of the decision and fear of the stigma they would face for admitting to receiving the abortion. This discovery is devastating but emphasizes the imperative need to change the way we think about, discuss, and view abortion. We have to stop demonizing the decision many women choose to make, and we must be sure to think about it as a deeply personal matter. We can’t keep tolerating the idea that abortion is somehow dirty or something of which to be ashamed. The study reminds us how important it is to support all our sisters and the personal life decisions they make.
Images via Jezebel and PLOS ONE
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