Women With Access To Abortion Have More Positive Views On Life

A new study suggests that abortion access allows women to have "aspirational" one-year plans.
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Academic studies can be fascinating... and totally confusing. So we decided to strip away all of the scientific jargon and break them down for you.

The Background

Previous research has shown that some women faced with unwanted pregnancies report having abortions for reasons associated with their personal goals and futures. According to a 2013 study from the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at University of California, San Francisco, 36 percent of women reported that they chose to have an abortion for reasons related to timing and 20 percent reported that they chose to do so because a child would interfere with future opportunities. A new study from Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) looks at this idea more deeply to determine whether abortion access impacts women's abilities to achieve their goals.

The Setup

ANSIRH researchers used data from the Turnaway Study, a larger study from ANSIRH which gathered information from more than 1,000 women recruited from 30 abortion facilities throughout the country. Dr. Ushma D. Upadhyay, an assistant professor at University of California, San Francisco, explained that this method is innovative because it allowed the researchers to only include women who wanted to have an abortion, avoiding the unfair comparison between women faced with unintended pregnancies who decided to carry the child to term and those who didn't.

"Comparing two groups who sought an abortion evens the playing field and allows us to see what the effect of receiving or being denied a wanted abortion is on women’s lives," Dr. Upadhyay told The Huffington Post.

The participants in the study belonged to one of four groups: women who were denied an abortion because of the facility's gestational limit and went on to parent the child ("parenting turnaways"), women who were denied an abortion because of gestational limits and did not go on to parent the child ("non-parenting turnaways"), women who sought out an abortion just under the facility's gestational limits and received an abortion ("near-limits") and women who sought out an abortion in the first trimester and received an abortion ("first trimesters").

Upadhyay used this data from the Turnaway Study for her analysis on the relationship between women's one-year plans and their access to abortion. One week after being recruited, participants answered the question, "How do you think your life will be different a year from now?" Researchers conducted follow-up interviews 6 months and one year later to see if they were achieving their goals.

The Findings

In total, the 757 participants in Dr. Upadhyay's analysis shared 1,304 one-year plans related to education, employment, change in residence and more. Researchers defined 80 percent of the goals as "aspirational" or "a positive plan for the next year." Participants in the first trimesters and near-limits groups were more than six times as likely to share aspirational plans for the next year than parenting turnaways. Parenting turnaways were also less likely to have both a positive one-year plan and to have achieved it compared to near-limits and non-parenting turnaways when it came to measurable goals.

The Takeaway

Based on this analysis, having access to abortion allows women to be aspirational, more easily accomplish their goals and overall maintain a more positive outlook on the future. According to Dr. Upadhyay, this link also says something very important about women.

"Results from my analysis on women’s one-year plans show that women know what is best for them," she said. Boom.

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