Turnaway Study releases preliminary findings

At the American Public Health Association (APHA) annual meeting in October 2012, UCSF Bixby Center researchers shared the first findings from the Turnaway Study. This study examines the effects of access to abortion services on women’s lives, comparing women who received an abortion to those who were denied care because they presented past the gestational limit of the clinic. The study’s Principal Investigator, Diana Greene Foster, reported that “there is no evidence of a post-abortion trauma syndrome, receiving an abortion does not increase the incidence of mental health disorders compared to having an unwanted birth.” Another important finding was that the socioeconomic consequences for women denied abortions are substantial. “Women denied abortion were more likely to be receiving public assistance (76% vs. 44%) and have household income below the federal poverty level (67% vs. 56%) than women who received an abortion,” said Dr. Foster. Since these initial findings were announced at APHA, the Turnaway Study has received significant media attention, including Dr. Foster’s appearance on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show.

The Turnaway Study’s research team will continue to collect data and report findings in the coming years. The team is also expanding its investigation internationally with a Global Turnaway Study, which studies access to legal abortion and the consequences of illegal abortion and childbirth in Cambodia, Colombia, India, Nepal, South Africa and Tunisia. The global research effort will replicate the domestic study’s design in a range of different cultural and legal environments in where the rates of maternal mortality and morbidity are higher than they are in the US.