The Turnaway Study: Women’s experiences five years after receiving versus being denied a wanted abortion
University of California, San Francisco, Oakland, CA, USA
The Turnaway Study is a longitudinal study of nearly 1,000 women who sought abortions from thirty abortion facilities across the United States between 2008 and 2010. We followed women just above and just below facility gestational limits to examine what happens to women when they have abortions and when they are denied, wanted, abortions. Findings from this study have been used to inform U.S. Supreme Court cases and Senate Committee hearings. It has produced data for 25 scientific papers on multiple aspects of women's experiences with unwanted pregnancy such as reasons for choosing abortion, experiences finding and receiving an abortion and emotional responses to abortion and childbirth. We have completed five years of data collection. In this panel the principal investigator will share results on women's physical health, mental health, emotions, relationships, socioeconomic wellbeing, subsequent pregnancies and the wellbeing of their children. We find no mental health harms from either abortion or birth following abortion denial but significant economic hardships among women denied, wanted, abortions compared to women who receive an abortion. We also find negative consequences for women's existing children and new child if they are forced to carry a pregnancy to term.
Women are thoughtful, even prescient, in the reasons they give for wanting to terminate a pregnancy. Their concerns around economic security, relationships with the man involved and ability to care for existing children are born out in the experiences of women denied a wanted abortion. Understanding the real consequences to women's lives of abortion and unwanted childbearing is essential to informing policy and providing reproductive health care. These data also help us to identify groups of women who may need additional support after abortion and to support policies to improve abortion access and mitigate the harms of being denied a wanted abortion.