There’s a new twist in the ongoing debate on reproductive rights: a San Diego doctor claims that an injection can reverse the effects of the abortion pill, thus saving the pregnancy. Since there’s a necessary 24-48 hour delay between the first and second pills a woman must take to induce an abortion, there’s an opening in between for medication that erases the effects of the first pill. While it appears to work in many cases, the research is still out on if it’s completely healthy for the woman.
While “abortion regret” is a very real phenomenon, some believe that this is the latest attempt by the anti-choice crowd to further guilt women who have abortions. You have to wonder whether their advocacy is motivated by a desire to help women or do whatever it takes to save a fetus, two things that don’t always go together.
Ruth Graham explains in the New York Times that the reversal attempts to treat a problem very few women have.
A vanishingly small percentage of women decide they want to reverse a medication abortion halfway through. In fact, regret is quite rare when it comes to abortions in general. A 2013 study found that although women experienced a wide range of often conflicting responses to the procedure, relief was the most common emotion one week after. A later study found that women who had abortions were also confident in their decisions beforehand — more confident than people who decide to get reconstructive knee surgery, for example. “Most women are certain of their decision when they present for care,” says the study’s lead author, Lauren Ralph, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco. Their certainty is largely unchanged by waiting periods and mandated counseling, which suggests “women do not change their minds.” Ralph also found that women who do experience uncertainty are more likely to already believe a myth about abortion, such as that it causes breast cancer.
It’s worth asking what exactly makes women feel relief after having abortions. While some women opt to end their pregnancies because they don’t want to be mothers, many more women end up aborting wanted pregnancies for more complex reasons: perhaps they don’t have health insurance and can’t afford prenatal care. Maybe they live in poverty and can barely afford to feed themselves (much less the children they already have). Maybe they are trapped in abusive relationships and don’t want to bring a child into an unhealthy and dangerous situation.
For many in the “pro-life” movement, those reasons never seem to factor into the way they vote and the politicians they choose to support. If they were truly interested in preventing abortion — and reducing abortion regret — they could support comprehensive sex education in public schools, fight for access to affordable birth control and healthcare, and stop endorsing politicians who don’t understand the first thing about these issues.
“Abortion regret” would occur far less often if more women were ready, on their own terms, to bring new life into this world.
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