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Article

Having an abortion does not lead to increased alcohol, tobacco or drug use

New research from ANSIRH’s Turnaway Study found no evidence that having an abortion leads women to increase use of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. We compared telephone interview data over the course of five years from women who received abortions and women who were denied wanted abortions. We found that having an abortion does not lead women to increase alcohol, tobacco, and drug  use and that a woman who has an abortion typically continues the same alcohol, tobacco, and drug use patterns they had prior to discovering their pregnancies.

Women who had abortions did have higher levels of any alcohol use and binge alcohol use after having an abortion than women who continued their pregnancies. But, the difference was related to women who gave birth reducing their alcohol consumption during the course of their pregnancy rather than women who had abortions increasing their use.

Although policies in some states require abortion providers to tell women that having an abortion might put them at risk for alcohol or drug disorders, this study indicates that those claims are not evidence-based.

The study, titled “Changes in alcohol, tobacco, and drug use over five years after receiving versus being denied a pregnancy termination,” is available from the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Summaries of these findings can be found in our infographic and issue brief.

Request a pdf.

Banner photo: © Aura Orozco-Fuentes

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ANSIRH is a program within the UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health and is a part of UCSF's Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences.

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