abortion providers save women's lives

Study finds that being denied an abortion makes it harder to escape domestic violence

abortion providers save women's livesYou’ll recall that researchers at the University of California, San Francisco are conducting a large study, called the Turnaway Study, into the effects of denying people access to abortion. They’ve already found that when women who wanted an abortion are forced to have a baby, their physical health and economic stability suffers greatly. Now their latest study suggests that being denied an abortion makes it harder to escape domestic violence.

ThinkProgress sums it up:

Researchers found that having an abortion was associated with a decline in physical abuse perpetrated by the man involved in the pregnancy. But, among the women who weren’t able to have the abortion that they wanted, continuing the pregnancy didn’t lead to a similar drop. “This finding is consistent with our hypothesis that having a baby with an abusive man, compared to terminating the unwanted pregnancy, makes it harder to leave the abusive relationship,” the researchers conclude.

And it’s not like this is a rare senario in the least. Domestic violence is devastingly prevalent, and one study has found that people seeking abortions are seven times more likely to have experienced it than the average. The UCSF researchers note that between 6 and 22 percent of women having abortions report recent violence from an intimate partner. Given that reproductive coercion is a common form of abuse, being in an abusive relationship may actually have put them at greater risk for an unintended pregnancy to begin with. These women often explain that they’re seeking an abortion because they don’t want to expose children to violence or to be further tethered to an abusive partner–and this study backs up those concerns. Gee, it’s almost as if people seeking abortions are the #1 experts on what’s best for them, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, our politicians don’t agree. The researchers are very clear about the dangers of gutting abortion access: “Policies that restrict abortion provision may result in more women being unable to terminate unwanted pregnancies, potentially keeping some women in physically violent  relationships, and putting both women and their children at increased risk of violence and other negative health consequences.”

Maya DusenberyMaya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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