Women are raised to choose whether or not they should bear a child. When it appears that they will but they aren't ready to, their only hope is abortion. While abortion has been opposed by many countries, particularly the most conservative ones, many women still rely on abortion for various reasons.
A 2017 study by the World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute reported that there were over 25 million unsafe abortions every year between 2010 and 2014. About 97% of these cases occurred in developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. This is the first time that a study included sub-classifications within the unsafe abortion category as less safe or least safe. The findings also showed that about 55% of all abortions during the said years were conducted safely, while 31% were less safe.
In the US, approximately 876,000 abortions took place in the United States in 2018, which represents a constant decline of abortion since 1996. According to Abort73.com, a nonprofit organization that aims to protect women and children from the violence of abortion, with over 1,360 million abortions in 1996, it slowly decreased to 1,310 million in 2000; 1,290 million in 2002; 1,210 million in 2005; 1,060 million in 2011, and 926,000 in 2014.
The 2019 data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that all statistics measuring abortion in the US reached a “historic low” in 2016. The decline was driven by two factors: a declining pregnancy rate and a growing disparity between abortion access in liberal and conservative states. During the same year, the abortion rate dropped to 11.6 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age and the ratio fell to 186 abortions per 1,000 live births.
One factor of this decline is the decreasing abortion facilities in the US. Recent reports show that a total of 36 abortion facilities closed nationwide in 2019, which poses a great danger for women seeking an abortion. State politicians across the country also introduced 300 bills restricting access to abortion last year. According to CBS News, the news division of American television and radio service CBS, 12 states have already passed abortion bans.
Banning abortion means we are restricting women from deciding what to do with their own bodies. Regardless of their reasons, they should have the right to an abortion, especially if a ban would endanger their lives.
Do Women Feel Guilt After Having An Abortion?
One of the most common misconceptions with women undergoing abortion is they would live a dysfunctional life. People think that women for sure would regret their decisions later in their lives. However, a recent study published in the journal Social Science and Medicine showed that of all the emotions that women were asked about – guilt, regret, anger, and happiness – it was relief that was the main one expressed. This debunks the assumption that women regret terminating their pregnancies.
Activists have long used this misconception to lobby for mandatory waiting periods and abortion counseling in many states. However, the findings of the study show that this isn’t true since 99% of women who had an abortion stated that it was the right choice. The researchers from the University of California San Francisco and Columbia University used the data of Turnaway Study, a 5-year project that examined the health and socioeconomic effects of abortions. The research had information on 667 women across 21 states.
According to Healthline, an online site that covers all facets of physical and mental health openly and objectively, the participants were composed of 35% non-Latina whites, 32% non-Latina blacks, 21% Latinas, and 13% other faces. The researchers revealed that 97.5% of these women stated that abortion was the right decision after the procedure, despite more than half of them struggling to decide. After five years, the figure increased to 99%.
“I perform abortions, and most people who come in asking for it know that it’s what they want. Of course, there are always exceptions, but most people feel that they can’t get it done soon enough and they’re all relieved [when it’s over], ” Dr. Tristan Bickman, an OB-GYN in Santa Monica, California, and co-author of “Whoa Baby!: A Guide for New Moms Who Feel Overwhelmed and Freaked Out (and Wonder What the #*$& Just Happened),” said.
The study showed that more than 50% of the respondents stated that after five years of getting an abortion, they felt mostly positive; 29% felt either mixed or negative about their abortions within a week of ending their pregnancies, and 20% felt few to no emotions. However, the researchers discovered that women were more likely to feel sadness, guilt, and anger after the procedure if they belong to a community that would judge them.
Dr. Amir G. Nasseri, an OB-GYN at Her Choice Women’s Clinic in Santa Ana, California, stated that how a community looks down on a person who has undergone an abortion plays a huge role in how women perceive their decision. “Because of the stigma around abortion, many people don’t talk about it and patients can feel isolated. I show them the numbers of how many people have abortions and the reasons for getting them. She often falls into one of those categories and can feel less alone in that decision,” he explained.
Abortion is Not a Crime
Many countries across the world have criminalized abortion. Thus, women often risk their lives seeking unsafe, illegal abortions since they have no options for safely ending their pregnancy. This tragic reality is felt by women living in marginalized communities. They are not only restricted from deciding but also shamed for deciding to undergo an abortion. Delaying or effectively blocking abortion care puts women’s health at risk.
Advocates have campaigned that abortion is a health issue and a basic human right. Major complications are more likely to happen with a woman has no option but to obtain an abortion later in pregnancy. Previous studies even showed that carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term is more dangerous to a woman’s health than abortion. Research by the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health also showed that an abortion does not negatively impact a woman’s well-being.
Thus, governments should realize that granting women the right to abortion would mean protecting them from unsafe procedures. This would also show that they believe that women have the right to decide for themselves.