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Desperation Resurrects Debunked Study

Bradley Mattes   |   January 21, 2022

As America awaits the US Supreme Court ruling on abortion, desperate abortion advocates are resorting to debunked research to salvage abortion on demand.

They claim that women who are denied abortion will suffer financially, struggle to achieve their education goals, and pay with their physical and mental health.

These arguments hinge on a past study rife with deficiencies and overstated findings. Serious researchers have poked so many holes in this study, if it were a boat, it would be docked next to the Titanic.

They call it the Turnaway Study.

3,045 women seeking abortions in 30 different abortion facilities were invited to participate in a survey and asked to consent to multiple follow-up phone interviews at six-month intervals. An offered $50 per call provided incentive.

The women were placed into two groups, those who received an abortion and those who were turned away due to the advancement of their pregnancies. By comparing the two groups, Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) hoped to establish that women who are denied access to abortion are adversely impacted in the multiple ways mentioned above. The abortion advocacy organization published over 24 papers touting its findings. Multiple sympathetic media outlets scripted dramatic headlines.

The New Yorker: The Study That Debunks Most Anti-Abortion Arguments
Time:  Abortion Doesn’t Negatively Affect Women’s Mental Health: Study
The Guardian: Most women do not regret having an abortion, study finds
95% of women believe they made right decision to have abortion
Five-year study surveyed 667 women across 21 states
Ms. Magazine: New Research Proves Restricting Abortion Harms Women Amazon and Google promoted the resultant book: Ten Years, a Thousand Women, and the Consequences of Having – or Being Denied – an Abortion

Pinocchio would be proud.

David C. Reardon, PhD, an associate scholar with Charlotte Lozier Institute and president of the Elliot Institute has considerable expertise in research and analytics. He published a paper that exposed numerous problems with the Turnaway Study and decimated its credibility.

Here are some of his findings.

Contrary to its highly exaggerated promotion:

  • Over two-thirds of the women invited to be surveyed refused.
  • Half of those who agreed dropped out.
  • Only 31 percent participated in at least one interview.
  • Just 27 percent participated in the first six-month interview.
  • By the end of the five-year study only 17 percent of the women were still participating.
  • Similar credible studies have had retention rates of 88 percent.

These realities undermine media headlines and ANSIRH’s claim that 95 percent of the women said abortion was the right decision. Dr. Reardon points out that ANSIRH’s own data revealed that after the first week the women who were denied an abortion and carried to term fared significantly better with anxiety, depression, and self-esteem.

The bias of the Turnaway Study goes beyond the abortion advocacy of ANSIRH. Unlike more credible research, the study depended upon a nonrandom self-selection of its participants. ANSIRH admits that the women who participated were more likely to support their abortion decisions than those who either refused or dropped out of the study. It is not likely the latter wanted to revisit their painful abortion experience.

Of the women who were turned away from the abortion facilities, at least 24 percent had abortions in another state or suffered a miscarriage. The inconvenient reality is the group of women who had abortions were compared with a “turnaway group” that consisted of a quarter of the women who had abortions or miscarried just weeks later.

Further, there is no accounting for the women in the “unexposed group” with a history of multiple pregnancy loss, either by abortion or miscarriage before and during the five-year study. Women who have had multiple abortions have issues with mental health.

The many vulnerabilities of the study explain ANSIRH’s refusal of requests to publish their complete questionnaire or make their data accessible for reanalysis.

Space limits our ability to share more failings of the Turnaway Study, however, you can access them in Dr. Reardon’s published analysis.

The abortion industry is pinning their desperate hopes on misrepresentations and sloppy research which is congruent with their method of operation over the past five decades.

Protecting women and their babies,

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