Are women more likely to have better futures if they can terminate unwanted pregnancies? New research suggests this is in fact often the case: "There is a belief that access to abortion is important for equal opportunities for women and for their financial stability," researchers write in a new study in the journal BMC Women's Health. To study this, the team interviewed 956 women who sought abortions at 30 clinics across the US, 182 of whom were ultimately turned away. Researchers checked in with these women through the so-called Turnaway study a week after either receiving an abortion or being denied one, then a year later, and then again five years later (this latter phase of interviews is underway now.) Some 86% of turnaways kept their children, and 67% of them were below the federal poverty line a year later, compared to 56% of women who had abortions.
That finding underscores the reason most cited by the women for seeking to terminate a pregnancy: Financial instability. And of the 1,304 one-year plans made by 757 of the study's participants, positive goals (i.e. I'll have a better job) were found in 85% of those who received abortions. Meanwhile, negative goals (i.e. I'll be more stressed with another child) were far more common among turnaways, who also reported having only 53% aspirational goals, reports Ars Technica, which calls this "an opportunity to reframe abortion as a public health issue for women who are suffering in measurable ways." Per the researchers: "Whether or not a person has aspirational plans is indicative of her hope for the future. Without such plans or hopes, she misses out on opportunities to achieve milestones in life." Not surprisingly, the study has its share of critics, like so. (Abortion rates are down across the US.)