I’ve been thinking about this all day while trying to figure out how to approach it because abortion is a very controversial and sensitive topic. I’m not here to tell anyone whether abortion is right or wrong because everyone believes differently.
But I personally do think that women should have the option. I wouldn’t have told you that years ago, but as someone who thought she was pregnant as a teen and someone who’s sat with a friend as she looked at a positive pregnancy test, knowing you have the option is relieving.
And according to this study, 90% of women surveyed felt relief after they had abortions. Researchers from the University of California “studied over 800 women who sought abortion services between 2008 and 2010. The participants were asked about six emotions: relief, happiness, regret, guilt, sadness and anger.”
This study aims to explore something that I’ve always heard, “The notion that abortion causes poor mental health has gained traction, even though it is not supported by research.”
Back in 2009, a study was released by Dr. Priscilla Coleman of Bowling Green State University and her colleagues and published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. The study “suggested that abortion was associated with long-term mental health problems like panic attacks, depression, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.” And this study has since been used to support laws that women must be counseled on mental health risks of abortion. This study has also since been seen as flawed.
While some women did experience feelings of regret if the abortion was closer to the gestational age limit, many of these women experienced negative feelings because they were previously denied abortions. And even the majority of women who did have negative feelings or who expressed regret still felt it was right: “Most (95%) women who had obtained the abortion felt it was the right decision, as did 89% of those who expressed regret.”
The study acknowledges that, of course, every woman is different and will experience various emotions depending on herself and her situation. I think it’s important to show that while many of these women did feel negative emotions, so many of them felt relief. And the majority of women who experiences negative emotions had difficulty getting an abortion or got an abortion when the pregnancy may not have been unplanned.
I’m not sitting here reading this and thinking that any woman who has an abortion is going to just feel relief. But I am comforted knowing that the women who participated in this study did feel relieved even though they may have had negative feelings as well.
When I sat in my bathroom alone at 17, I thought about it. I wondered what my options were. I wondered how I would feel if I did get an abortion. I wondered if I would feel massive regret, if I would hate myself, if I would completely fall apart. I fortunately had the relief of a doctor saying, “You’re not pregnant.”
I think it’s important to recognize that you can still feel relief even if you have negative feelings as well. And perhaps this study might bring some comfort to women who are struggling with those negative feelings.
What do you think about this study? Do you think a lot of women feel relieved or feel regret? Tell us in the comments.