Maybe you’ve read reports – once again in the likes of The Guardian – about a study that claims to demonstrate few women regret their decision to obtain an abortion. Sadly, when you dig a little deeper into the methodology, there are some serious flaws with the research.
As noted elsewhere, obtaining a representative sample for this type of research is very difficult. Of all the woman eligible and invited to participate, less than 38% actually consented to be surveyed. Even worse, only 85% of that cohort completed baseline interviews (that is 956 women). Among those, 93% completed at least one follow-up interview, and 71% completed an interview in the final two years of the study. The authors record that a mere 667 ultimately completed all the questions.
Now, why do you think there was such a high dropout rates? Well, surely those who initially, and ultimately, experienced the greatest trauma excluded themselves from the sample. Who would want to discuss such intimate pain with a researcher? Remember, this is someone who is trained not to influence the respondent by offering any sort of feedback to their answer, whether affirming or disapproving. The fact such a large number of the women involved appear so keen to completely forget their choice is the standout finding of this survey.
Note also that the participants were actually given $50 gift vouchers after each set of phone interview they completed successfully, which would have totalled $550 (not bad for answering what must have been rather brief questions about their emotions and the perceived rightness of their actions). Such an approach is controversial and they managed to violate one best practice guideline, which is to ensure that participants who choose to withdraw from the research will still receive payments. By offering such an incentive did they end-up capturing those of a more mercenary, utilitarian mindset?
Anyone with any real doubts or qualms about their abortion would not consent to be repeatedly, over the next five years, asked if they regretted their decision or to reflect on how much, if any, guilt they felt.
The researchers claim this was a relatively diverse sample because about “half of participants felt that deciding to have the abortion was very difficult (27%) or somewhat difficult (27%), while almost half felt it was not a difficult decision (46%).” That’s 180 (a rather small selection) who initially found the decision “very difficult” but then we need to probe further and ask why exactly.
The questions only seem to offer “perceived community stigma” as a possibility for “regret” or “guilt”, not their views on what exactly abortion constituted. Did any of these believe the medical procedure, cast so often by the likes of Planned Parenthood as “my body, my health, my choice”, consider that they were killing another human being? Of course, if you can hide behind the fig-leaf rationalisations, there’s very little that these women would regret about apparently freeing themselves up from what is often depicted as an unwanted burden.
In fact, there have been other studies that track actual health outcomes, as opposed to a small selection of those who opt in to phone interviews, which show clear connections between women seeking abortions and longer-term health problems. You can read 2271 (as 17th January 2020) heart-rending testimonies of US women who regret their abortion at the “Silent No More” website. Whenever are they reported across the major news outlets? Yet as pro-abortion campaigners become more militant in celebrating the murder of innocent babies, exhorting anyone who will listen to “Shout Your Abortion”, as if it’s some proud boast, of course researchers will find more women who will be happy to report no initial, and definitely no lasting, psychological harm from that little trip to the clinic.
This is the tragedy. That life inside the womb can be dismissed as a possibility (what – even at 38+ weeks, when said baby could exist quite happily on the outside?). It’s not about prioritsing the baby over the mother but simply affirming that both lives matter. Every human being deserves a fighting chance:
“Every life deserves a voice
Every child deserves a chance
You are more than just a choice
There’s no such thing as unplanned.”
PS – if you read The Guardian report on this survey (as of 10pm 16th January 2020), you will see they manage to conclude with “The new research follows another study, also led by Rocca, published in the academic journal PLOS One in 2015 that surveyed 667 women over a three-year period and had similar results: 95% of women said that having an abortion was right for them.” (emphasis added)
Wow – corroboration. Only, is 667 the magic number? Reach that dizzying height of sampling and your results will be bullet-proof? No, of course not. It’s the SAME SURVEY GROUP – results collated after THREE and then FIVE years, with (funnily enough a five year gap between their appearance in different journals). The women are from the “Turnaway Study, a longitudinal study examining the health and socioeconomic consequences of receiving or being denied termination of pregnancy in the US.” The author, Lauren Aratani, spent so little time actually checking the details of these publications, she did not even notice. You could not make this level of bias up!
PPS – further research into this “Turnaway” study led to an excellent article, which makes the point that “over two-thirds of the women approached at the abortion clinics refused to be interviewed, and half of those who agreed dropped out. Refusers and dropouts are known to have more postabortion problems.” Please read this in full to appreciate the deceptiveness perpetuated by the abortion advocacy group Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health.