Researchers debunk this common anti-abortion myth, once and for all

A new study of nearly 700 American women has found an overwhelming majority of women who get an abortion do not regret their decision.

A new study has quashed the rhetoric overused by anti-abortion campaigners that women who get an abortion will later regret it, revealing that an overwhelming majority of women who have an abortion believe they have made the right decision.

Researchers surveyed 667 women across 21 states in the US over a five-year period to track how each felt around their decision to get an abortion.

The findings, published in the academic journal Social Science & Medicine, showed that 95% of women felt it was the right decision over the course of the study.

Researchers checked in with participants every six months to note any emotions of sadness, guilt, regret, anger or happiness over their decision. Relief was the most common emotion, the study found.

“For years… there has been a belief promulgated or a claim made that we really need to protect women from the emotional harm that many of them will suffer from when having an abortion,” said Corinne Rocca, lead author of the study and a professor at the University of California at San Francisco. “There was no evidence ever to say that was actually true.”

While women often reported mixed emotions, such as guilt and relief, first thing after having an abortion, the study found that “both positive and negative emotions declined over the first two years and plateaued thereafter, and decision rightness remained high and steady”.

95% of women did not regret getting an abortion

The right to abortion in the US has come under increasing threat during Trump’s presidency with recent law changes restricting access in some states to a level not seen in decades.

Alabama, for example, passed a near-total ban last year, including for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, unless the woman’s life is in danger.

Perhaps the biggest threat yet though has come in the form of an amicus brief signed by more than 200 members of Congress lobbying for the US Supreme Court to “reconsider” Roe v Wade, the 1973 decision which legalised abortion in America.

Many states still require women seeking abortions to undergo counselling and waiting periods.

However, Rocca said that according to the study’s findings, abortion counselling was unnecessary and if offered, should instead focus on helping women cope with the stigma of having an abortion. About 70% said they felt that would be stigmatised by their communities for having an abortion.

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