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Article

Women denied abortion are significantly less likely to support the legal right to abortion

Research from ANSIRH’s Turnaway Study found that being denied an abortion can lead to reduced support for abortion rights.

The mixed-methods study, published in Sexuality Research and Social Policy, examined attitudes toward abortion legality and morality among women who received an abortion vs. those who were denied the abortion they sought. We found that women who were denied an abortion were significantly less likely to support the legal right to abortion years later than women who received a wanted abortion.

We also found that the vast majority of women who seek abortion are highly supportive of the legal right to abortion. Yet at the same time, more than a third believe abortion is morally wrong or can be wrong depending on the circumstances. Qualitative interviews help illuminate the findings: Even women who held negative or mixed views on abortion reported increased empathy for others facing unwanted pregnancy, or noted they would not impose their moral views on others.

This work confirms prior findings that views on legality and morality of abortion do not always correspond. This points to the importance of distinguishing between morality and legality of abortion in research on abortion attitudes and in public debate on abortion policy.

Read more about the study, titled “Attitudes Toward Abortion After Receiving vs. Being Denied an Abortion in the USA,” in Sexuality Research and Social Policy.

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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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