Women who had abortions reported hightened levels of stress just finishing the survey, suggesting that many suffer in silence.
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A new survey is examining rates at which women of the United States experience pressure to abort. The data was compiled by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, which surveyed 1,000 women between the ages of 41 and 45, a group that has already experienced the majority of their reproductive life.
Of the survey sample, nearly one in four (226) acknowledged a history of abortion. Of this group, about 60% said they felt pressured to have an abortion during their pregnancy by their male partner, family member, or other people. Furthermore, they suggested that the circumstances around the pregnancy (financial instability, employment, status as a student, etc.) had made them feel pressure not to have a child as well.
The perceived pressure these women felt was described as closely associated with negative emotions, as well as disruptions to daily life, work, and relationships. Women who felt pressured into their abortion reported more frequent thoughts, dreams, and flashbacks to the abortion. They also reported more frequent feelings of loss, grief, or sadness over their abortion, with some even reporting developing a moral and maternal conflict with the procedure. Overall, there was a distinct decline in mental health noted by those who reported having abortions.
Even finishing the survey was more challenging to women who had perceived pressure to abort. Women with a history of abortion were four times more likely to drop out of the survey before completion. Those who did not undergo the procedure, but still felt pressured to do so, also reported heightened levels of stress while answering the survey.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Signal, David Reardon, Ph.D., lead author of the study, noted that applying pressure to women to abort is not conducive to a “pro-woman” society. He said:
“In a country torn by political debate over abortion, surely these findings underscore one point on which we should all be able to agree.”
“No woman should ever feel pressured into accepting an unwanted abortion. Clearly, abortion clinics need to provide better pre-abortion screening and counseling in order to prevent unsafe and unwanted abortions.”
He noted that one of the most significant findings was in the group of women who experienced heightened levels of stress while taking the survey. These women were far less likely to complete the survey than women who had not perceived pressure to abort, which is a problem that Reardon suggested could skew similar surveys. This, in turn, could prevent public acknowledgement of these problems and prevent these women from seeking and receiving help. Reardon said:
“This is why surveys about abortion will always underreport negative outcomes. It is precisely the women feeling the most negative emotions who are most likely to not want to talk about it.”