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Study: Most women don't regret abortions

An abortion rights supporter and an anti-abortion protestor

An abortion rights supporter and an anti-abortion protestor stand outside the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, on July 2, 2013. Credit: AP / Jay Janner

Most females who choose to have an abortion do not live to regret it, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco recruited women seeking abortions between 2008 and 2010 at 30 facilities across the United States, and followed them for three years after they terminated their pregnancies. Of the 667 women in the study, more than 99 percent reported that having the abortion was the right decision for them, according to an article published earlier this month in the academic journal PLOS ONE.

Over the course of the three years, participants completed semiannual phone surveys to assess their negative emotions, including regret, anger, guilt and sadness, and positive ones such as relief and happiness, toward their procedure.

"The overwhelming majority of women felt that termination was the right decision for them," the study concluded.

And whatever emotions they did have, postive or negative, became less intense over time, researchers found.

The study also looked at how the gestational age of the fetus at the time of the abortion impacted women's emotions by dividing the participants into two groups -- women having first-trimester procedures and women who had abortions later on in their pregnancies. But the study found no significant differences in the reactions between the two groups.

Of those women who did report negative feelings though, the study did note some commonalities. These women usually had more planned pregnancies and had more difficulty deciding to terminate the pregnancy. The negative emotions were also usually associated with concerns about a lack of support and also the stigma surrounding abortion.

That led researchers to conclude that "emotional support may be beneficial for women having abortions who report intended pregnancies or difficulty deciding."