- Diana Greene Foster conducted a landmark study which found women denied abortions are more likely to have poor health and stay in abusive relationships.
- On Friday, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which will lead to abortion bans in more states.
- Foster told Insider abortion is a universal need and without it, patients’ physical and mental health will suffer.
Research shows women who are turned away from abortion care after seeking it are more likely to stay in abusive relationships, sideline their life’s ambitions, and develop life-threatening health problems like eclampsia and post-partum hemorrhage and experience chronic pain.
It’s a reality many more could face now that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 SCOTUS case that made it legal for a person to seek an abortion with limited federal government intervention. 13 states already have “trigger” bans in place, which will severely restrict or completely eliminate abortion access in the coming days and weeks, Insider previously reported.
Diana Greene Foster is the researcher who led the landmark 10-year study, called the Turnaway Study, which found dire health and relationship consequences for denying people abortions. In her book “The Turnaway Study,” Foster details her interviews with 1,000 women from 30 abortion clinics who were turned away from abortions due to missing their state’s legal cut-off period for one, not knowing they were pregnant, feeling pressured to keep it, or not being able to afford an abortion.
Foster told Insider that if a person is denied an abortion for any of these reasons, there are both short- and long-term health consequences, regardless of their relationship status and personal abortion beliefs.
“Receiving or being denied an abortion doesn’t change whether a couple stays together. Many people choose abortion because their relationship is not doing well, not well enough to support a child,” Foster told Insider.
Women denied abortions have more anxiety and potentially fatal child-birth related complications
One in four American women will have an abortion in their lifetime, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
The majority of people who can get abortions say they don’t regret their decision. 95% of the women in Foster’s study reported their abortion was the right decision for them five years afterwards.
“We’ve had this idea that abortion hurts women, and we didn’t find that kind of emotional harm that people might have expected,” Foster previously told Insider.
But Foster has seen how not getting one can lead to a lifetime of physical and emotional pain, especially for lower-income families. Indeed, abortion rates are the highest among women who live below the federal poverty level.
“This is a real issue that affects hundreds of thousands of people in our country. And the impact on already disadvantaged families is going to be huge,” Foster said.
In addition to the emotional toll of being denied an abortion, it can also lead to potentially fatal complications, said Foster. In her study, two women died from birth-related causes.
And for those who stay in abusive relationships because they can’t access abortion, the consequences can be both physical and mental. Foster says she’ll never forget interviewing Jessica, a mother in an abusive relationship who identified as anti-abortion.
In “Turnaway Study,” Jessica said she had to either sacrifice her anti-abortion beliefs, or leave her two young children without the attention they needed as she tended to a third, and unwanted, baby. Jessica chose to get an abortion.
“It shows how universal the need for abortion care is,” Foster said.