Understanding Abortion Regret



The Understanding Abortion Emotion Study investigates the emotions associated with having an abortion in the United States. Using qualitative methods, the study examines women’s lived experiences of abortion emotion as well as various judicial, political, religious and scientific discourses regarding abortion emotion. The goal of this work is to contextualize and depolarize the debate about women’s emotional responses to abortion while documenting the ways that individual emotional experiences shape social discourses and vice versa.

We have conducted in-depth interviews with women who had an abortion, including women who expressed emotional difficulty following their abortion. We find three primary sources for this difficulty: social disapproval, relationship loss, and a head v. heart conflict about having the abortion. Overall, respondents articulated a need to feel that the decision to have an abortion was their own and a need for non-judgmental social support following the procedure. Data also yield insights into how the clinic experience itself can make the overall experience more or less difficult.

In addition to interviews with women who have had abortions, we conducted focus groups and in-depth interviews with staff and/or volunteer counselors at four peer counseling services. We have also completed a content analysis of websites that forward a claim of abortion regret. We are in the processing of analyzing these data.

Now that data collection for this study is complete, we are in the process of data analysis and manuscript writing. In the near future, we plan to publish our findings in peer-reviewed journals and present our results at academic conferences.

This research is funded by the Ford Foundation.