In nine states, women who seek abortions must first sit through a counseling session on the procedure’s supposed negative psychological effects.
Women who have abortions might experience “depression or thoughts of suicide,” reads one example, the Texas “Woman’s Right to Know” booklet.
“Some women,” it continues, “after their abortion, have also reported feelings of grief, anxiety, lowered self-esteem, regret, sexual dysfunction, avoidance of emotional attachment, flashbacks, and substance abuse.”
Women’s-rights advocates have long questioned the evidence behind these mini-interventions, and a new study published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry suggests they’re onto something: Women who had abortions aren’t any worse off, psychologically, than those who initially sought abortions but gave birth instead.
“We found no evidence that women who have abortions risk developing depression, anxiety or low self-esteem as a result of the abortion, either immediately following, or for up to five years after the abortion,” said M. Antonia Biggs, a social psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco and lead author on the study, in a statement.
Psychological Outcomes of Abortion-Seeking Women
The study authors followed 956 women, who were recruited from 30 abortion clinics in 21 states. They interviewed the women a week after they sought an abortion, then twice a year for five years. Of the women who sought an abortion, 231 were turned away from the clinic because they were too far along in their pregnancies, and of those, 161 ended up giving birth.