The Turnaway Study

Presented by the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH).

It is estimated that more than 4,000 women are denied wanted abortions due to facilities gestational limits every year. As more states pass gestational limit laws, thousands more will be affected.

The Turnaway Study was the first study to rigorously examine the effects of receiving versus being denied a wanted abortion on women and their children. Nearly 1,000 women seeking abortion from 30 facilities around the country participated. Researchers conducted interviews over five years and compared the trajectories of the women who received a wanted abortion to those who were turned away because they were past the facility’s gestational age limit. As legislators pass more and more laws to restrict access to abortion care, it’s important to document what happens to women who are unable to obtain an abortion.

RESULTS

Abortion does not harm women. It does not increase women’s risk of having suicidal thoughts, or the chance of developing PTSD, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, or lower life satisfaction. Abortion does not increase women’s use of alcohol, tobacco or drugs. 95% of women said abortion was the right decision for them. Women who received a wanted abortion were more likely to have a positive outlook on the future and achieve aspirational life plans within one year.

BEING DENIED AN ABORTION REDUCES WOMEN AND CHILDREN’S FINALCIAL SECURITY AND SAFETY.

Women denied an abortion had almost four times greater odds of a household income below the federal poverty level and three times greater odds of being unemployed. There was an increased likelihood that women didn’t have enough money to pay for basic family necessities like food, housing and transportation if they were denied an abortion. Women unable to terminate unwanted pregnancies were more likely to stay in contact with violent partners, putting them and their children at greater risk than if they had received the abortion. Continuing an unwanted pregnancy and giving birth is associated with more serious health problems than abortion.

WHEN WOMEN HAVE CONTROL OVER THE TIMING OF PREGNANCIES, CHILDREN BENEFIT

Existing children of women denied abortions were more than three times more likely to live in households below the federal poverty level and they were less likely to achieve developmental milestones than the existing children of women who received abortions. Nine percent of children born because an abortion was denied met the threshold for poor maternal bonding, compared to three percent of children born subsequently to women who received an abortion.

OUT-OF-POCKET COSTS

Out-of-pocket costs for women whose insurance or Medicaid did not cover abortion were $575. For more than half, out-of-pocket costs were equivalent to more than one-third of their monthly personal income. It cost closer to two-thirds of their monthly personal income for those receiving abortions after 20 weeks.

For more information about the Turnaway Study and detailed references, visit http://bit.ly/TurnawayStudy.