Denying Abortions, outcomes examined - Turnaway Study, May 2022

This study deserves a thread over here at CFI Forum, I first heard about it a few days back via NPR. Its findings seem a little obvious to me from my own life experiences, but science and quantification must be, so this attention is important and long over due just the same.

The Turnaway Study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, shows that women experience harm from being denied a wanted abortion.* These findings have far-reaching implications for lawmakers, judges, health agencies and others as they consider policies that restrict abortion access.

Denying a woman an abortion creates economic hardship and insecurity which lasts for years.

  • Women who were turned away and went on to give birth experienced an increase in household poverty lasting at least four years relative to those who received an abortion.
  • Years after an abortion denial, women were more likely to not have enough money to cover basic living expenses like food, housing and transportation.
  • Being denied an abortion lowered a woman’s credit score, increased a woman’s amount of debt and increased the number of their negative public financial records, such as bankruptcies and evictions.

Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), based at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), is a leading research program that informs the most pressing debates on reproductive health, rights, and access.

The Turnaway Study is ANSIRH’s prospective longitudinal study examining the effects of unwanted pregnancy on women’s lives. The major aim of the study is to describe the mental health, physical health, and socioeconomic consequences of receiving an abortion compared to carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term. The main finding of The Turnaway Study is that receiving an abortion does not harm the health and wellbeing of women, but in fact, being denied an abortion results in worse financial, health and family outcomes. Highlighted resources include:

Before the Turnaway Study, there was little quality research on the physical and social consequences of unwanted pregnancy for women.

For over 10 years, Dr. Foster and her team of researchers tracked the experiences of women who’d received abortions or who had been denied them because of clinic policies on gestational age limits.

The research team regularly interviewed each of nearly 1,000 women for five years and found those who’d been denied abortion experienced worse economic and mental health outcomes than the cohort that received care. And 95% of study participants who received an abortion said they made the right decision.

The idea for the Turnaway Study emerged from a 2007 Supreme Court abortion case, Gonzales v. Carhart . In the majority opinion upholding a ban on a specific procedure used rarely in later abortions, (the 82 year old male Justice Anthony Kennedy ( had the f’n audacity to judge woman, when he) speculated that abortions led to poor mental health:

“While we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained,” he wrote. “Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow.” …

Women turned away from getting an abortion are more likely to stay in contact with a violent partner. They are also more likely to raise the resulting child alone.

  • Physical violence from the man involved in the pregnancy decreased for women who received abortions but not for the women who were denied abortions and gave birth. 3
  • By five years, women denied abortions were more likely to be raising children alone – without family members or male partners – compared to women who received an abortion. 1

The financial wellbeing and development of children is negatively impacted when their mothers are denied abortion
• The children women already have at the time they seek abortions show worse child development when their mother is denied an abortion compared to the children of women who receive one. 6
• Children born as a result of abortion denial are more likely to live below the federal poverty level
than children born from a subsequent pregnancy to women who received the abortion. 7
• Carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term is associated with poorer maternal bonding, such as feeling trapped or resenting the baby, with the child born after abortion denial, compared to the
next child born to a woman who received an abortion. 7

There’s more!!!