The Results

The Washington Post
Fifty articles have been published from [Turnaway Study] data, including many headline grabbers, such as the finding that women unable to obtain abortions had a higher probability of living in poverty, and another that showed no difference in mental-health issues, such as depression and suicidal thoughts, between those who received abortions and those who were denied the procedure. The Washington Post

Analysis of Turnaway Study data resulted in 50 scientific publications examining physical and mental health, socioeconomic status, employment, educational attainment, relationship status, contraceptive use and emotions about pregnancy and abortion. Descriptions and links to all these publications are listed here or you can download the list in our printable PDF.

Why do women seek abortions?

The most common reasons for seeking an abortion are not being able to afford to have a child, the pregnancy coming at the wrong time in life, and the man involved not being a suitable partner/parent. Alcohol, tobacco and drug use can also be a factor.

Who is denied abortion and why?

Even before most 20-week bans were implemented, more than 4,000 women per year were denied wanted abortions due to gestational limits. Women who seek later abortions are often slowed down by not realizing they were pregnant, followed by logistical barriers to getting an abortion.

How were participants recruited?

Recruiting from 30 facilities over three years, the Turnaway Study relied on a variety of recruitment strategies to increase participation in the study. These strategies are discussed in this publication.

What are women’s experiences paying for abortion, viewing ultrasounds, and seeing protesters?

The Turnaway Study examined women’s feeling around abortion counseling, ultrasound viewing, the impact of clinic protestors on decision making, and the challenges women faced to cover the costs of abortion — many of whom did not have access to public or private insurance.

What are the effects of having or being denied abortion on mental health and wellbeing?

The Turnaway Study examined the effects of receiving or being denied abortion on women’s mental health (anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, and suicidal ideation) and well-being (self-esteem, life satisfaction, stress and social support).

How are women’s emotions affected and how do they feel about their decisions?

Women experience a mix of positive and negative emotions after an abortion, with relief predominating, and the intensity of all emotions diminishes over time. The Turnaway Study also found that over 95% of women consistently felt abortion was the right decision for them over the duration of the study.

How does abortion impact substance use?

The Turnaway Study found that women who are denied abortions and carry the pregnancy to term reduce/cease some, but not all, substance use, while women who have abortions tend to continue substance use patterns from before their abortions.

Do women who are seeking abortion consider adoption?

Considering adoption and placing a child for adoption is rare, even when abortion is no longer an option. This paper describes the experiences of the women who make that choice.

How does being denied abortion affect physical health?

Women giving birth after being denied an abortion experience more potentially life-threatening complications such as preeclampsia and postpartum hemorrhage. They also report more chronic pain and rate their overall health as worse. Two women in this study who were denied abortion died due to maternal, or pregnancy-related, causes.

What are the socioeconomic consequences of having or being denied abortion?

The Turnaway Study showed that being denied a wanted abortion results in economic insecurity for women and their families, and they have increased odds of falling below the Federal Poverty Level. They experienced more debt, lower credit scores and worse financial security for years after the pregnancy.

How does being denied an abortion affect romantic relationships?

Women who receive wanted abortions are more likely to describe themselves as being in very good relationships years later compared to women who are denied an abortion. Women who were denied abortion were more likely to continue to be exposed to violence.

Do women’s attitudes toward abortion rights and morality change after having an abortion?

Nearly all women in the Turnaway Study who sought abortions reported that they support abortion being legal in some or all situations, yet 20% also believed abortion is morally wrong. Most women who participated in the study supported abortion rights, but support was slightly higher from women who received abortions.

How does having or being denied abortion impact life plans and educational attainment?

Women who receive abortions have six times higher odds of having positive one-year plans and are more likely to achieve them. Women who are denied abortions are neither more nor less likely to graduate or drop out of school than women who receive abortions, but they are less likely to obtain college degrees.

How does having or being denied abortion affect contraceptive use and subsequent pregnancies?

The Turnaway Study found that women who receive an abortion are more likely to have an intended pregnancy within the next five years compared to women who are denied, and they are slightly more likely to use contraception.

What is the effect of having or being denied abortion on women’s existing and future children?

The Turnaway Study demonstrated that, when women have control over the timing of having children, existing and subsequent children benefit. Children born later to women who are able to get an abortion experience more economic security and better maternal bonding than the children born because a woman was denied an abortion.

Does being denied abortion affect how pregnancy intentions are reported?

As time passed after seeking an abortion, women’s perceptions of whether their pregnancy had been intended or unintended changed. Those who were denied abortions and gave birth tended to report their pregnancy as more intended. These papers show how hard it is to measure whether pregnancies are intended, unintended, or some of both.