Health & Spirit

Study: Women's health worsened over 5 years after being denied an abortion

Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Health & Fitness

There were no differences for chronic pain in the back, abdomen or anywhere else, nor were there differences in obesity.

"Whether the adverse outcomes observed among women who gave birth are due to term pregnancy, the birthing process itself, or parenting, the point is that reproductive life events and overall health are entwined long after delivery," Dr. Lisa S. Harris and Dr. Vanessa Dalton, both of the University of Michigan's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, wrote in the editorial.

Abortion opponents maintain that advocates of legalized abortion routinely downplay or deny the health risks of the procedure. A report by the Center for Arizona Policy details a litany of problems that have been reported in the medical literature, including increased risks of suicide, breast cancer, drug abuse and future miscarriages.

"This simple truth remains: Abortion harms women," the report states.

In contrast, a 2018 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine concluded that "legal abortions in the United States ... are safe and effective," and that studies that meet high standards for "rigor and lack of bias" have not shown an increased risk of physical or mental health problems.

The Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe vs. Wade allows states to place restrictions on abortions performed after the end of the first trimester and up through the point of fetal viability only if doing so would protect a pregnant woman's health. That principle was upheld in the 2016 decision in Whole Woman's Health vs. Hellerstedt.


Yet 24 states have tried to impose new rules on abortion providers, arguing that the strictures are needed for patient safety, according to the Guttmacher Institute. (Regulations in six of those states have been invalidated in court.)

In 2019 alone, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio outlawed abortion during part of the first trimester. If more states follow suit, the number of women denied abortions because their pregnancies are too far along is expected to increase dramatically.

The Turnaway Study has tallied the costs of such restrictions, which already result in an estimated 4,000 women being denied wanted abortions each year.

In 2016, researchers reported that compared with women who got an abortion, those who were forced to complete their pregnancies were more likely to suffer depression or anxiety disorders five years later.


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