A new study from the University of California’s Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health investigates the law-shaping myth that women who wish to have an abortion need extended counseling, ultrasounds, and waiting periods to make a decision. For the huge majority of them, the decision is already made.
The findings from ANSRH, lead by epidemiologist Lauren Ralph, were the result of interviews conducted amongst 500 English and Spanish speaking women, ages 15 and older, as they navigated their abortion process at four different family planning locations in Utah. They first spoke with women before their abortion information visit, then followed up three weeks later. 89 percent of the women surveyed received abortions.
In their questioning, researchers used The Decisional Conflict Scale, making it the first study in the U.S. to use a validated scale, which Ralph describes as the “gold standard for assessing an individual’s certainty about a health care decision.” Its use allowed researchers to compare women’s decisions regarding abortion with decisions made by both men and women on medical procedures such as reconstructive knee surgery or treatment for colorectal and breast cancer. Women were as, or more, certain about their choice as people facing those health decisions.
Ralph told Think Progress, “Our finding directly challenges the narrative that decision making on abortion is somehow exceptional compared to other health care decisions and requires additional protection, such as state laws that mandate waiting periods or targeted counseling, and whose stated purpose is to prevent women from making an unconsidered decision.”