According to a recent study, the statement that women are harming their health by choosing to terminate a pregnancy is unfounded. In fact, the researchers found that women who undergo abortions in the first or second trimester are less likely to suffer from serious short-term health problems than those who are denied the procedure.
The findings come from a new interpretation of data collected as part of a 2014 survey on women's health. Researchers at the University of California conducted their analysis on a longitudinal study of women who had requested an abortion without aborting it from early 2008 to the end of 2010.
This is what the Turnaway study is called, and the results of the survey have already been used as proof of the mental and physical consequences of a desired termination refusal.
Few debates are as emotionally and politically charged as those on the right to abortion, the facts often being confused in a moral struggle and misinformation spreading without control.
With respect to the use of scientific evidence, proponents of choice have maintained the assertion that the risks to a woman's well-being are serious enough for her to be at risk. decide whether or not she should continue her pregnancy.
At the same time, opponents often cite studies identifying specific risks to health, such as future pregnancies developing placenta previa or higher rates of mental health care among women who undergo abortion compared to a population. widespread.
Yet such arguments often hide the details of a more complex story.
A 2018 study by the University of Maryland on the use of antidepressants in nearly 400,000 women revealed that there was a difference in mental health between aborted women and other women .
But, on closer inspection, this difference already existed before the procedure, making more statements about demographics seeking an abortion than about the impact of the procedure itself.
Now, the Turnaway Flagship Study provides researchers with a more accurate way to compare US women in the same population as those facing an unwanted pregnancy.
The researchers broke down about 900 self-reported responses into more than 700 abortions in the first or second trimester and about 160 who gave birth after being excluded from an abortion clinic.
Comparisons between the two groups on past and persistent health problems revealed a number of significant differences.
Overall, women who had an abortion in the first trimester were less likely to be in poor health within five years of the procedure. In comparison, women who gave birth had an increased risk of expressing poor or poor general health.
Headache also contrasted between groups, with nearly one-quarter of women having migraines or headaches five years later, compared with only 18% of those who had an abortion.
A higher number of chronic health problems have also developed in women who have given birth, including asthma and joint pain.
Surprisingly, follow-up with survey volunteers revealed that two participants who had requested the abortion had died while they were pregnant, asking whether such a tragedy could have been avoided if they had received adequate care.
The findings put the earlier findings on the well-being of women seeking an abortion in a new context, which makes the goal of a general comparison and a clinical diagnosis to a state of health from the point of view of the individual.
"We listen to women's views about their overall health and do not necessarily rely on new clinical diagnoses," said obstetrician Lauren Ralph of the University of California at San Francisco. Time Jamie Ducharme.
"I think this measure of self-rated health status is more likely to summarize various aspects of their health and well-being than specific measures might not be."
Others might disagree. The researchers admit that it's hard to say whether the adverse health reactions were all due to childbirth or the stress of raising a newborn baby. There was also no difference in health insurance coverage in the coming years, which contrasted with the results.
The role of science in the ongoing debate on abortion is at best tenuous. The philosophical divisions on the definition of human life and the value of the body's autonomy can not be solved with statistics and biology.
But where science is referenced, the context of the evidence is important.
"Our data certainly do not support the argument that abortion hurts women," Ralph said.
This research was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.