We all know what happens in a film or TV show when there’s an abortion storyline. Woman or girl gets pregnant, she finds out, she worries about what to do with it and if she doesn’t keep ‘the baby’ then she sure feels crap about not keeping it.
But that’s Hollywood’s version, and it’s so far from the truth, because a recent study of 667 women (across America, done from 2008-2010) who have had abortions shows that the ‘overwhelming majority’ do not regret having the procedure.
Most women don’t regret their abortions
Researchers interviewed the participants intermittently over a three-year period following the terminations and overall, found that 95% ‘reported that having the abortion was the right decision for them’.
While a little over half of them said it was a ‘difficult or very difficult decision’ to make, the long-term effects of an abortion showed no evidence of the so-called ‘post-abortion trauma syndrome’ that pro-lifers have been touting around as a thing (they think that a woman will be more psychologically scarred from having an abortion than, say, carrying a foetus she didn’t want to term and either raising it or giving it away for adoption).
Why the majority of women weren’t so upset with their abortions
Factors making the abortion decision easier included: being at school or on low wages, and situations where the man involved in the pregnancy was not part of the decision-making process.
Why the minority of women weren’t so happy with their abortions
Factors making women less likely to feel at peace with their abortion include those who’d planned the pregnancies a bit more and Latinas (perhaps this is to do with the fact many Latinas are Catholic, a religion that is as anti-abortion as it is anti-birth control).
Stigma still a huge issue
And of those 5% who didn’t feel like their abortion was the right decision, one of the major reasons behind their regret was not the procedure itself – or the fact they didn’t have a three-year-old toddler – but the stigma that comes attached to getting an abortion.
The researchers had asked the participants to rate from 1-4 ‘how much they would be looked down upon by people in their communities if they knew they had sought an abortion’, and this is where most of those unhappy with their abortions were likely to report higher figures. Without this fear of stigma, the women – many of them mothers already – would’ve felt much happier with their abortions.
The researchers explained in the study, titled *Decision Rightness and Emotional Responses to Abortion in the United States: A Longitudinal Study *and published in PLOS One: ‘Community stigma and lower social support were associated with negative emotions.’
The moral of the story? That letting women make decisions about their own bodies and not judging them for it makes women that much happier. Who would’ve thought it?
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.