So, last Sunday, Aug. 28, has been the international action day for the decriminalization of abortion, and last week I have attended a very interesting Amnesty International conference/solidarity event, where I have found out about the plight of women in El Salvador imprisoned for having suffered miscarriages while not having access to medical care and supervision.
There is evidence that restricting the availability of legal abortion does not appear to reduce the number of women trying to end unwanted pregnancies (see here), what it does lead to is the death of around 70,000 women yearly from seeking unsafe illegal abortions; and the death of women denied the termination of a pregnancy that endangers their lives (often non-viable anyway).
Today on Jezebel, I came across another study, carried out by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco; tracking 862 women over the course of five years. The participants were divided into three groups: women seeking abortions who were within two weeks of the facility’s gestational age limit for the procedure (Near Limit Abortion Group), women who were turned away because their fetus was over that age limit (Turnaway Group) and women receiving an abortion in the first trimester (First Trimester Abortion Group). Each participant was asked questions about physical and psychological violence from the man involved in the pregnancy during biannual interviews.
According to the study,intimate partner violence is common among women having abortions, with between 6% and 22% reporting recent violence from an intimate partner.5% of the participants reported physical violence from the man involved with the pregnancy within the 6 months prior to the baseline; with no statistically significant differences between the three groups.
However, subsequent interviews shows that in some cases, violence from the man involved with the pregnancy subsequently decreased; in many cases because of contact with the abusive man being cut and the relationship terminated. In this case, the Turnaway group, who could not obtain the abortion they were seeking, did not experience a decrease in violence like the other groups did.
Therefore, the researchers concluded that ” terminating an unwanted pregnancy may allow women to avoid physical violence from the MIP, while having a baby from an unwanted pregnancy appears to result in sustained physical violence over time. This finding is consistent with our hypothesis that having a baby with an abusive man, compared to terminating the unwanted pregnancy, makes it harder to leave the abusive relationship.”
Consequently, laws restricting or denying women access to safe and legal abortions may have the unintended consequence of leaving women more vulnerable to domestic abuse; by making it, in the authors’ words, “tethered” to their abusers.
You can read the full article here