IIn the early 1990s, the pro-life movement adopted a new strategy and emerged what has been called the "anti-abortion abortion argument" was developed, based on the statement that which abortions hurt women.

Until then, the argument in favor of life was largely focused on the fetus; Internally, advocates of life have debated whether this message is most effective for their cause.

A new study of patients from 30 US abortion centers, released on Monday, shows that in many cases the opposite of this woman-centered strategy is true: being denied an abortion has the effect of physical health of the woman.

Scientists analyzed data from the Turnaway study (longitudinal study of the effect of unwanted pregnancy on the lives of American women) to conduct their research. The study, published in 2014, examined the lives of women who wanted to have an abortion, but in some cases they were denied because they had exceeded the pregnancy limit.

While previous studies using Turnaway's data had shown that favoring was a less dangerous means of prevention than childbirth, in terms of women's physical health there has been little research on the long-term effects on women's health. the women.

Dr. Lauren Ralph is an assistant professor at the University of California at San Francisco and has been a co-investigator in the Turnaway study. She is also the principal investigator of this new study, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

"Overall, our study indicates that abortions are not detrimental to women's physical health, but denied access to an abortion," says Ralph.

The new study (titled "Self-Reported Physical Health Status of Women Who Have Terminated or Not Aborted Pregnancy After Searching for Abortion Services: A Cohort Study") examined the health status of 874 women who used the services of these 30 US abortion centers between 2008 and 2010. Of this group, 327 had an abortion in the first trimester, 382 had an abortion in the second trimester and 163 gave birth.

Twice a year, during a five-year period, these women reported by phone the state of their health and the researchers then found that the physical health status of the women who were aborting It was not worse than the women who gave birth during the course. of those five years.

However, some differences appeared between the groups. Those who gave birth have always complained of poorer health than those who have not done so. For example, five years after being denied a requested abortion, 27% of women rated their overall health as fair or poor. In comparison, about 20% of women who had an abortion said the same thing.

In addition, women who gave birth reported more chronic headaches, migraines, and joint pain than those who had an abortion. Two women who gave birth died after delivery. These deaths were due to pregnancy-related causes after being deprived of a requested abortion.

According to Ralph, observing both maternal deaths "made you think". She explains that while the maternal mortality rate in the United States is high – especially compared to other developed countries – maternal deaths are still an unusual event. On average, one in every 1,000 women dies in childbirth. But in this study, this percentage was closer to 1.2%.

"Now, as it is so rare, we can not determine if this difference is statistically significant," Ralph warns. "But, at the very least, we can say that these maternal deaths could have been avoided if these women had had access to the health care that they were looking for."

pro-choice
Supporters of abortion in 1986

Ralph hopes that his team's findings provide "indispensable evidence" of what could happen if the US continues to restrict women's access to requested abortions. Although the United States Supreme Court has recognized a constitutional right to abortion with Roe v. Wade more and more states have challenged its protections. In May, Alabama passed a bill banning abortion, with very few exceptions, while a number of states have recently passed bills banning theft. Abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat.

These invoices may be inapplicable due to Roe v. Wade, and Alabama is currently being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Fetal heartbeats can sometimes be detected as early as six weeks of pregnancy, often before women realize that they are pregnant. According to an analysis conducted in 2016, 76% of American patients can have an abortion within seven days of their call to make an appointment. But the majority of these patients lived in states with no waiting time. For others, living in states that need pre-abortion counseling or living in states with poorly available abortion clinics often means that they can only access these services after those abortions. six weeks.

The population of this study is limited to women who have requested an abortion – which Ralph sees as one of his strengths. Previous research has largely focused on health differences between women who chose to give birth and those who did not. She explains that what is known as "healthy mothering" – the idea that healthy women are more likely to continue a pregnancy – "previous research may have underestimated the relative safety of abortion in relation to childbirth ".

This study is also unique in that it examines a group that is not often examined: those who have an abortion in the second trimester. The researchers found no difference in physical health, chronic pain and self-perceived health among those who had an abortion in the first and second trimesters.

The data do not suggest that women who have had an abortion have worse health than those who do not have it, but they suggest that women who are denied abortion and who come to term do not do not do it.

"Our data do not support the argument that abortion hurts women or that it is necessary to restrict access to abortion to protect women's health," says Ralph.

Partial summary:

Background: Research shows more serious morbidity and mortality associated with childbirth in the short term than at abortion, but few studies have focused on long-term physical health women with an unwanted pregnancy after an abortion or childbirth.

Participants: Of 1132 women who requested abortion and who agreed to participate, 874 were included in this analysis (328 who had an abortion in the first trimester, 383 who had an abortion in the second quarter and 163 who gave birth).

Results: No significant difference was observed between self-rated health status and chronic pain after first-trimester and second-trimester abortion. At age 5, 27% (95% CI, 21% to 34%) of women who gave birth reported fair or poor health, compared to 20% (CI, 16% to 24%) of women who experienced First trimester abortion and 21% (CI, 18% to 25%) who had an abortion in the second trimester. Women who gave birth also reported more chronic headaches, migraines and joint pain, but similar levels of other types of chronic pain and obesity. Prenatal hypertension was reported by 9.4% of participants who gave birth. Eight of the 1132 participants died during follow-up, 2 at postpartum. Maternal mortality did not differ statistically by group.

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